7 Secrets to Faster and Better Sleep
Good night, sleep tight!
Did you know that more than half of working Malaysians don’t sleep enough? According to a report in the Asian Journal of Medicine and Health Sciences, 53 percent of Malaysia’s workforce is getting less than the minimum of seven hours of sleep in 24 hours.
We’re physically exhausted and mentally drained at the end of a long day. Yet it’s hard to fall asleep and maintain good quality rest through the night. Sadly, sleeping becomes a chore.
Well, all that is yesterday’s nightmare because we’re going to reveal seven secrets to sleeping faster and better at night.
WHAT’S A CIRCADIAN RHYTHM?
We bet you thought of sleep cycles at the mention of the circadian rhythm. You’re right, so here’s more about them.
Circadian rhythms play a major role in optimising bodily processes at various points during a 24-hour period. The sleep-wake cycle is one of the most critical functions of the circadian rhythm.
Our circadian rhythms align sleep and wakefulness with day and night. Light exposure from the Sun sends signals to the internal clock to help us stay alert and awake. When night falls, the internal clock generates the sleep hormone, melatonin. This transmits signals to help us snooze away.
So, it’s pivotal that the circadian rhythms are properly aligned. Otherwise, you might face difficulty falling asleep and maintaining that sleep until morning. With disrupted sleep, you might find yourself holding your head up from nodding off at work or school.
Guess it’s time to rethink before you binge-watch another season of a trending series!
HOW LONG SHOULD IT TAKE YOU TO FALL ASLEEP?
The amount of time it takes to fall asleep is called sleep latency or sleep onset latency. A healthy period typically ranges from 15 to 20 minutes. On the one hand, a longer sleep latency might indicate issues with sleep health. On the other hand, an extremely short period might be a sign of sleep deprivation.
Experts state that for the average person with no sleep difficulties, you should be able to fall asleep within 10 to 20 minutes. However, this figure can vary depending on the nature of your daily routine and bedtime habits.
SEVEN SECRETS TO SLEEP FASTER AND BETTER AT NIGHT
Motivated to alter your sleep latency? Check out these seven secrets to sleep faster and better at night.
Secret 1: WATCH WHAT YOU’RE WATCHING
The cliche hack to a good night’s sleep is to stay away from electronic devices for at least two hours before bed. On the contrary, if you’re immersed in late-night scrolling, that’s okay too!
Just remember to be mindful of what you’re doing. Tune in to some relaxing music or look up podcasts with calming sleep stories. The right kind of content can nudge your mind and body into a resting state and help you fall asleep quickly.
Secret 2: EAT THE RIGHT FOODS
You are what you eat, and what you eat can affect how you sleep. Foods that are high in sugar, saturated fats and processed carbohydrates can disrupt your sleep. Some of them include:
-> SPICY FOODS
They can worsen acid reflux and cause heartburn when you lie down.
In coffee and chocolate, caffeine has a half-life of about five to seven hours. It’s best to avoid it in the early afternoon.
You may have seen actors having a glass or two of wine before going to bed in many movies. Though it may aid with sleep onset due to its sedative properties, studies have shown otherwise.
Drinking to fall asleep can build a tolerance, forcing you to consume more alcohol each night in order to experience the sedative effects. One study in 2018 compared various amounts of alcohol and how it affects one’s sleep quality. These are the results:
>> LOW AMOUNTS OF ALCOHOL
Having fewer than two servings of alcohol per day for men or one serving per day for women decreased sleep quality by 9.3 percent.
>> MODERATE AMOUNTS OF ALCOHOL
Having two servings of alcohol per day for men or one serving per day for women decreased sleep quality by 24 percent.
>> HIGH AMOUNTS OF ALCOHOL
Having more than two servings of alcohol per day for men or one serving per day for women decreased sleep quality by 39.2 percent.
So, if you have leftover chicken curry from lunch, let it stay in the fridge. Instead, pick up more plants, fibre and foods rich in unsaturated fats like kiwi, milk and nuts.
Secret 3: TRY MELATONIN
If you’re a night owl, you’ll probably bid goodnight to the sunrise. You work all night and sleep all day. Though, what if you’re a school student or a working adult? Work and school schedules aren’t always the most accommodating. So if you’re having a hard time getting enough sleep, you have a delayed circadian rhythm.
Overcome this nightmare by taking melatonin supplements. Melatonin is a light-sensitive hormone that occurs naturally in our body. Darkness signals your glands to start producing melatonin while in the light, production ceases. Speak to a sleep specialist before purchasing melatonin supplements.
Secret 4: FIND YOUR STRESS-BUSTER
Stress is a major cause of delayed sleep. After all, how many times have you snuggled up in bed, only to lay awake for hours overthinking and ruminating?
Use relaxation techniques like:
-> MEDITATION VIA APPS OR ONLINE TUTORIALS
-> GUIDED IMAGERY
Begin by imagining a peaceful setting. Then take slow, deep breaths and focus on the sensory details in that setting. What can you see, hear and smell? Immerse yourself in that imagined space and let sleep take over.
It’s recommended that you go back to reading physical books. This is because the blue light that’s emitted from electronic books can reduce your melatonin secretion. Thus, keeping you awake.
Write down the things, people and events you’re grateful and appreciative of. You can also find journals and templates that come with introspective questions for you to ponder. Practice this every night for 15 minutes and you’ll find yourself more relaxed and happy!
Secret 5:CHANGE YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Sometimes, altering the environment you’re in can really make a huge difference. If you haven’t, give aromatherapy a shot.
Get an essential oil diffuser and a couple of scented oils like lavender, damask rose and peppermint. What about scented candles? Well, the commercially available ones were discovered to release volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde that may increase your cancer risk. But don’t worry as there are now naturally scented candles made from coconut wax, beeswax, soy wax and more.
Secret 6:PREPARE PHYSICALLY
Your body needs to know that you want to sleep. Why not give progressive muscle relaxation a try? It combines breathing techniques with muscle contractions and releases to alleviate bodily stress.
This process includes the following steps:
-> Lie in bed, close your eyes, and begin slowly inhaling and exhaling deep breaths.
-> Tense your face muscles for 10 seconds. Release the tension and take several deep breaths.
-> Next, tense your shoulder muscles for 10 seconds before releasing. Inhale and exhale deeply.
-> Repeat these steps for other muscle groups throughout your body, starting with your shoulders and continuing through to your feet.
Secret 7: USE THE MILITARY METHOD
Military personnel live with inconsistent schedules and less-than-optimal sleeping conditions. So, they need to get rest quickly whenever possible. This military method is a technique developed to help soldiers achieve sleep in two minutes. Here’s how you do it:
-> Assume a comfortable position and relax each part of your face, such as your eyelids, jaw, lips, and brow.
-> Allow your arms to rest at your sides, dropping your shoulders first.
-> Begin taking deep breaths to relax your chest.
-> Start relaxing your lower half, working your way from your hips down through each part of your leg to your feet.
-> Visualise a peaceful setting to set your mind at ease. If you struggle to conjure relaxing images, repeat a simple phrase to yourself, like “don’t think”.
If you still have trouble falling asleep after making these changes, consider consulting a healthcare professional. There may be underlying issues they can help you with. Now that you know how to sleep faster and better, go get yourself comfy pyjamas and sweet dreams!