December 7, 2016
You woke up with mild heart palpitations and a heavy heart. It’s 5:00 a.m. and you’re pretty sure that you’ve slept, or tried to, for at least seven hours. However, your mornings are still a struggle. You can barely survive the entire day without caffeine. The signs are clear, you’re sleep deprived.
What can help you sleep better at night? The most common advice we get pertain to our diet—cut carbs consumption, regulate caffeine, and drink warm milk at night. Others recommend meditative activities that can help evoke relaxation response at night. Another set of tips you should look into involve your sleep environment. Quality sleep doesn’t only mean sleeping for a certain number of hours. It also means getting uninterrupted sleep throughout the night. Explore 7 points on the effects of your environment to sleep here.
Internal and external factors can significantly influence our sleep-wake balance. One of internal factors is aging. As we grow old, our body experiences structural and functional changes that affect our sleep patterns. The external factors include our lifestyle choices and sleeping environment.
Light influences our natural sleep-wake cycles through the cells in our eyes. These light sensitive cells tell the brain whether it’s daytime or nighttime. The problem arises when our exposure to light changes because of work schedule, travels across time zones, and unregulated use of artificial light. The prolonged exposure to artificial light in electronic gadgets can cause sleep problems.
Insufficient sleep leads to significant impairments and accidents, too. Short term lack of adequate sleep can affect your mood, judgement, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the long term, sleep deprivation may lead to various health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and even premature death.
One way of protecting yourself from the hazards of sleep deprivation is to create an ideal sleep environment. A recent study suggests that setting the thermostat to 60.8 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect for sleep. This is because our body temperature tends to fluctuate over the course of the day. To initiate sleep, the bedroom temperature should be lowered to cool levels. Dr. Matthew Walker, professor of neurology at the University of California, Berkeley, said: “If your core temperature is too high, the brain cannot easily make the switch from being awake to being asleep, or create the best quality sleep.”
The importance of sleeping environment to our health cannot be understated. Unfortunately, many of us neglect lighting, temperature, and other external factors that are within our control. To help solve your problems of falling and staying asleep throughout the night, it’s imperative that you have a comfortable and supportive bed mattress.
To help keep the body in-sync, the Orthocare Biorytmic has been infused with rejuvenating minerals to improve balance, vitality, and concentration. It also offers exceptional back support so you won’t have to wake up every now and then because of back pains and a stiff neck.
For side sleepers, the Senso Memory Ultima Plus Pillow helps create a more comfortable sleeping space with its curved design and an elevated side. It helps relieve neck pains and give a sound, refreshed sleep with its Cooler fabric and Hydragel beads.
Our brain goes through several stages of sleep. The first stage, or the light sleep, occurs between being awake and falling asleep. In the second stage, or the onset of sleep, we become disengaged from our surroundings and our body temperature drops. The last stage, or the deepest and most restorative sleep, is when our body undergo significant changes. At this point, the blood pressure drops, breathing rates slow down, muscle relax, and tissue growth and repair occurs. The deep sleep stage is also instrumental to energy restoration and release of growth hormones.
Ensure that you experience important body functions during sleep by shutting off noise within your sleep environment. You can install soundproofing in your room or use white noise machines. White noise blocks out sudden changes in noise that prevent sleepers from getting past the light sleep stage.
What’s keeping you up all night? Your body wants to doze off, but your brain keeps on analyzing random thoughts. A conducive sleep environment is free of clutter that triggers anxiety and excessive thinking. Keep as much items in closets, dressers, and boxes. If you have extra space in your home, transfer your bookcase and working desk to a separate work area. You can check traditional Japanese bedrooms where the only items visible during bedtime are the mattress, pillows, and blanket.
Anxiety can keep you up all night. Some people call this as the natural alarm clock. One possible cause of your anxiety is your constant time checks. Harvard Medical School expert notes that staring at a clock in your bedroom can increase stress, preventing you from even reaching the light sleep stage. Go to bed only when you’re truly tired. If you wake up in the middle of the night and unable to doze off in 20 minutes, get up and do a restful activity such as listening to relaxing music. Remember to keep the lights dim so as not to stimulate your internal clock.
The factors surrounding your sleep environment are within your control. One of the most challenging tips for sleeping at night concerns another person—your sleep partner. Does he/she snore loudly or make distracting noise at night? If this person is affecting your sleep habits, it’s just fair to discuss this matter towards a solution. Your partner may need to seek medical attention to address his/her disruptive snoring and sleep-disordered breathing. Otherwise, you may need to explore the possibility of sleeping in separate rooms.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends a sleep range of seven to nine hours for adults aged 18 to 64, and seven to eight hours of sleep for those aged 65 and older. Other studies, however, suggest that sleeping for five to 6.5 hours per night is more ideal for adults aged 50 to 80. The best way to know whether you lack sleep is to observe your body. Understand what happens to your body when you sleep and whether the occurrences are normal or not. If your sleeping troubles are starting to interfere with your normal functioning, don’t hesitate to speak to a doctor.