It’s hard to have a good day when we spend our nights in unrest. If it feels that you are struggling to get some good sleep, here are some tips that can help you out.
How does sleep work :
-Sleep happens in four stages, defined by the frequency of neuronal activity, which indicate how deep one is sleeping, and therefore, the quality of recuperation.
A complete sleep cycle takes an average of 90 to 110 minutes, with each stage lasting between 5 to 15 minutes. Deep sleep is longer and REM shorter during the first cycles and then the process reverses with the later cycles of the night.
Falling asleep happens in successive phases :
-the awaken state or vigilance
-Somnolence, a progressive diminution of the brain the frequency and the electrical intensity of nervous activity
-Leading to the four stages of sleep.
Stage 1 :
-Qualified as the lightest stage of NREM sleep.
-Defined by slow eye movements.
-Presence of a feeling of drowsiness
-Muscle tone progressively relaxes and brain activity slows down
-Presence of muscle spasms of hypnic jerks, and/or a sensation of drifting or falling.
Stage 2 :
-Qualified as NREM sleep.
-Eye movements slows down further
-Brain waves continue to slow down
-Presence of specific bursts of mental activity known as sleep spindles, intermixed with sleep structures known as K complexes to prevent awakening
-Awakening is less likely
-body temperatures decreases and heart rate slows down.
Stage 3 :
-Qualified as deep sleep.
-Most restorative stage of sleep.
-Slow brain waves consists of delta waves, the body is still
-Most difficult time to awaken
stage 4 ;
-Qualified as REM sleep for rapid eye movement.
-also know as the dreaming stage
-brain waves are more actives
-Awakening is more frequent and easy.
-waking in the stage can leave one feeling groggy or overly sleepy.
How do we know what we know about sleep :
You can monitor and study sleeps via electrodes :
-EGG : electroencephalogram register the electrical activity of the brain during sleep.
-EMG : Electromyogram register the muscular tone or contractions
-EOG : Electroocculorgram which trac the movement of te eyes.
-we can also observe movement by filming sleeping subject
-And make evaluations with questionnaire
Sleep is essential because :
-Sleep permits the maintenance of synaptic connection, the support of innate memory and the formation of new neuronal connections.
-There is a reconstitution of stocks of glucose in the muscles.
-It is the time of the day when detoxification of the body is at it’s peak.
-The body repairs different tissues, the nervous system (new myelination), muscles and organs.
-During sleep, we can observe a lowering of body temperature, which is favorable to the synthesis of new cells and proteins ?
-During sleep, the production of cortisol is at its lowest,
-Emotional break, the lack of sleep can lead to depression.
-Sleep permits the reorganization of the brain: to cement learning of the day by creating new synaptic link. There is also a reorganization of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, after feedback from exercise.
-This lead to muscle memory, improve coordination, an increase ability to recruit muscle fibers, and body learning.
-Sleep also helps t support the immune system.
Tips for better sleep
-Staying cool :
The body temperature lowers while we sleep, and it has been shown that a lower ambient temperature lead to better sleep.
You might have notice that on the hot summer night, falling asleep was more difficult, and the night was disrupted more often.
The ideal ambient temperature as been determined to be between 18 to 21 degree Celsius or 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
To lower the temperature of the room, you can ideally have a air-con system installed with which you can control ambient temperature. Otherwise, leaving the windows open the the cool night air, helps to lower the room temperature. Lowering heating in winter ensure that ambient temperature are in the optimal range.
-Cooling your body :
Similarly, you can cool your body before going to bed for a better sleep. This will simulate the lowering of body temperature.
You can either take a quick cold shower, right before sleep or put ice packs on your body while you watch TV.
You can also take an evening walk, lightly dressed, which will cool your body, clear your mind and allow you to relax.
Another strategy is to take a relaxing hot bath about two hours to 90 minutes before bed. The bath will help loosen your muscles, and your body temperature will naturally drop in the hours that follow.
-Maintain a sleep regiment :
Your body works like a clock, and certain metabolic functions often happen at the same time everyday, this is call the circadian rhythm.
If you change the time upon which you are going to bed every day, it makes it difficult for your body to adapt and secretes melatonin as well as relaxing muscle tensions at the right time.
Ideally, you want to be able to go to bed and wake as the same time everyday, even in the weekend if you can. That way, you will teach you body to prepare for sleep when the time is due.
Having a fix rhythm will allow melatonin production to be regulated in as little as a week, and your sleep will show definite improvement.
It is typical for sleep to be adapted to the time of year. Therefore sleep during winter are usually longer than summer.
Have a pre-sleep routine: triggers sleep
Because we are creatures of habits, our behaviors are often triggered by cues. Having a little routine in the evening that act as a cue for bed will have a similar effect as going to bed at the same time everyday. It will teach your body to start winding down, taking confort in a regular, known pattern.
The routine can involve any activities of your choice, such as cleaning, grooming, reading, relaxing. You just have to do the same thing every night.
Go to bed early:
Ideally, go to be early. Detoxification happens early in the evening, and our body clocks are usually wired for early sleep.
Hours before midnight are considered to be the most restful. Going to be early will usually lead to more deep sleep, increasing the quality of sleep.
Avoid napping during the day :
Naps perturbes nocturnal sleep, and are better avoided, unless a particular schedule is established.
Naps can be beneficial to complement night sleep and increase afternoon productivity, especially micro nap of 10 to 20 minutes. This is only valid ,if there are no impact on sleep during the night from napping.
Control exposure to light :
Light exposure is directly link to a reduction in melatonin, especially blue light spectrum. In the evening, prevent exposure from blue and artificial lights:
-Try to not watch a screen a couple of hours before bed.
-Try to have ambient light that are dimmer, ideally a red light spectrum.
-Alternatively, you can were blue light filter glasses, that will help to reduce blue light exposure and help you produce melatonin.
-You can use apps on your devices or use glasses to stop most of the blue light.
Relax and limit strenuous activities in the evenings :
Intense physical or mental activity in the evenings will stimulate the nervous system and make it more difficult to fall asleep, increasing the chances of ruminating thoughts and nervosity.
Falling asleep is a progressive relaxation process. Beginning to relax before you go to bed can help you fall asleep straight away.
Some particularly effective way to relax before bed are :
-Meditate, or listen to calming music, to calm down your mind
-Body scan, to progressively relax your body, you can try the contract/release variation
-Stretch, to loosen the muscles and facilitate a good posture during the night
-Myofacial releases, to get rid the body of tension
-Eat right to optimise your sleep :
The type of food you it during the day, especially in the afternoons and evenings can either help or prevent sleep.
Food to add :
-Try to eat and optimise the assimilation of tryptophane as it is one of the main precursor to melatonin.
Because its assimilation takes a few hours, it is ideal to consume tryptophane during afternoon snacks, from sources such as, eggs (raw yolk), cheese, nuts and seeds.
Tryptophane is also a precursor to serotonin, the happy neurotransmitter.
-Eat better fat. Good fat will ‘feed’ your brain, increase the sensation of satiety and reduce metabolic inflammation which can prevent sleep.
-consider supplementing in vitamin D, as ideal level of vitamin D have been show to produce better sleep.
-You also want to improve the quality of your digestion by eating mindfully, eating slowly, and supplement in probiotics. A poor digestion can definitely impair sleep, with feeling of bloating and unrest.
-If you wake up hungry during the night, eat long lasting food with GI index such as long lasting proteins and carbs
Plants, teas and supplements:
-chamomile, valerian root, lemon balm, passion flower.
-cherry juices are high in melatonin
-cinnamon and banana skin tea is rich in tryptophane
-Nut milk with honey
Things should try to avoid :
-eating to much and bloating
-Food that are difficult to digest, excess grains,bad protein sources, saturated fat, food very rich in fiber.
-Avoid inflammatory food, refined carbohydrates
-Avoid stimulant, tea coffee, cigarettes.
Track you sleep :
Tracking your nights is a great way to improve the quality of your sleep over time.There is plenty of tools nowadays to track the quality of your sleep. You can monitor how much you move during the night, how many time you woke up, and plenty of other factors to rate the quality of your sleep.
Once you have data, you can self-experiment and try to improve the quality of your sleep progressively by seing what works.
The data does not have to be perfect, but having something to mesure will help you determine which endeavor is effective.
Perform exercises during the day or light exercises in the evenings :
-Physical activity increases the quality of sleep.
-Working out or sports can lead to a good fatigue, physical tiredness, as opposed to mental or intellectual strain. Falling asleep becomes easier and faster, and there is less of a tendency to be stuck in your end, with ruminating thoughts.
-Exercise can increase the time spend in deep sleep during the phases of sleep.
-However performing physical activities late in the day can lead to excitability and insomnia, via the acceleration of the endocrine system, via an increase in specific hormones and endorphines such as dopamine, cortisol, GH, and testosterone.
This can be accentuate by the training environment or gym, if it has loud music and has bright light, as well as facilitating exciting social interactions.
–Light exercises in the evening or afternoon can trigger and increase in body temperature, and a post-exercices drop in temperature which can help falling asleep.
You don’t want intense exercise however, which can lead to hormones responses that make it more difficult to fall asleep.
-Because people experience a diminution of the quality of sleep while aging, physical activity it a great way to maintain a good quality of sleep for longer periods of time.
Purify the air of the bedroom :
-The air you breath plays an important part in how well you can sleep as well. Finds ways to detoxify the air, keep ideal humidity levels, in order to breath easily during the night.
-Plants such as English ivy or the Snake plant has been identified to detoxify the air.Or you can use an air purifier.
-Control humidity :The ideal humidity for sleep is between 30 and 50 percent. Anything higher or lower which is common depending on where you live can make it difficult to sleep. High humidity prevents moisture from evaporating off your body, which can make you hot and sweaty. Low humidity on the other hand can lead to a sore throat and difficulty breathing.
The quality of the environnement as well as sleeping habit play important rôle in the overhaul quality of rest and may need to be adjusted.
If all else fail, consider supplementing in melatonin :
Check with your doctor before taking any medication. Exogenous melatonin can help you sleep better. Exogenous melatonin is unlikely to have sides effects, nonetheless, you do not want to over use it, as regular dosage can lower your body’s capacity of producing melatonin naturally, perpetuating the problem.
Try to expriment with as little dosage as possible, to see what works best for you.
Some side effect of melatonin can be :headaches, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, irritability.
Because melatonin may affect the reproductive system, it is not recommended for use among people who wish to become pregnant or breast-feeding mothers.
How to wake up easier :
Have a morning routine or plan your next morning :
-Have something plan when you wake up or have a defined morning routine. One of the reason you are feeling lazy and unmotivated about getting up is that you don’t know what you should. You brain is not clear on the goal and benefits of getting up, so it will find ways to persuade you to stay in bed, requiring that much more will power to jump out of bed..
-wake up at the same time everyday helps you create a routine and prime your body to activate at a certain time.
-Use light :
Have your blind open to wake up with the sun or use a dawn simulator clock in order to be woken up naturally. A dawn simulator is a clock that gradually produces more intense light to wake you up. Eventually you can even ditch the alarm.
Avoid snoozing :
Snoozing will let your body start a new sleep cycle only to be interrupted soon after, leaving you in a state worth than before. Sleep inertia can last up to for hours, leaving you feeling cranky for the rest of the morning.
Snoozing can influence long term sleeping issues, such as irritability, heightened stress, lowered immunity, and increased inflammation.
The right gear :
Sweat, cold, itchiness and other sensation can disrupt sleep. In order to sleep comfortably, considerer what you are wearing :
Cotton and linen are the best because they can breath, avoid sleeping in anything that is synthetic which will maintain high body temperature, increase sweating and might disturb sleep.
In summer, pyjamas can actually help you stay cooler.
Have the right bed linen :
-Breathable bed linens are ideal.
-Chose cotton or bamboo linen, or full linen bed shits.
-Have summer and winter linens to have the ideal temperature.
Chossing the right matress :
There is plenty of mattresses out there, and the difference in quality can make a bid difference in the quality of your sleep. Because it is quite a technical product, most mattress retailers will be able to council you well on their products, however, here are some of the main things to consider when choosing a mattress. I personally have a preference for latex bed, and memory foam as a second option.
Different type of bed :
Innersprings: Coil type, coil count, padding type, foam layers (and quality), fabrics/ticking
Memory Foam: Memory foam type, memory foam density, memory foam thickness, core foam density, cover fabric, any padding/extra layers
Latex: Latex contents, latex type, thickness of all layers, ILD of layers, cover fabric, any padding/extra layers
Different type of foams :
There is 3 types of foam
-Poly-foam: cheap but degrade faster, often used as top layer of inner-coil mattress
-memory foam: viscoelastic polyurethane foam or tempurpedic foam
-Latex: tend to last longer and dont sink in as much as other types of foams
made from petrochemicals or natural latex from trees
For latex mattresses :
-Determine if the layers glued
-Determine what the latex material is made of.
-Determine the process, is the latex is made in the Dunlop (creates a firmer feeling foam) or Talalay (softer-feeling foam, synthetic blend, note 100% Natural Talalay does not exist) process for each layer.
-Both Dunlop and Talalay latex can be made 100% synthetic.
-Test the beds and get the firmness that is right for you
-Look for third-part third-party certifications : certified organic materials or safety/quality certifications
-check for warranty
Cons of foam mattress:
-can be hotter
-Less bouncy than spring beds, hard to move around
-Heavy and cumbersome to move
I hope you found some clues to improve your sleep.
All the best
Thank you for reading