Everyone agrees that good sleep is incredibly important. It serves to help you feel good and allows your body and brain function properly, yet important though it is – this perceived luxury of the modern world is often not afforded us for various reasons.
Science based sleep Hygiene tips for helping you fall asleep faster
Everyone agrees that good sleep is incredibly important. It serves to help you feel good and allows your body and brain function properly, yet important though it is – this perceived luxury of the modern world is often not afforded us for many reasons. Some people have no problem falling asleep. However, many others have great difficulty falling and staying asleep through the night – insomnia.
Here are some simple “sleep hygiene” tips ways help sleep onset as fast as possible. It is normal to fall asleep in approximately 15 minutes – falling asleep as soon as you head “hits the pillow” is often a sign of extreme mental or physical tiredness – even sleep deprivation, be aware of this possibility.
If your room is too warm, it might be difficult to fall asleep. Setting your thermostat to a cool temperature between 60–75°F (15–23°C) may help. Individual preferences will vary of course , so find the temperature that works best for you.
Taking a warm bath or shower can often also help speed up the body’s temperature changes. As your body cools down afterwards, this can help send a signal to your brain to go to sleep. Indeed this failure in thermoregulation has been proposed as a mechanism in insomniacs. Warm foot baths have also been suggested.
Use a relaxing breathing method
Find a simple yet effective and powerful breathing method that promotes calmness and relaxation. It might also help you unwind before bed. eg. 2-7-8 . These consist of a breathing pattern that relaxes the nervous system. It can be practiced anytime you feel anxious or stressed.
Adopt a regular sleep schedule
Sleep is important and – few things work as well as regular sleep schedule yet we often ignore it. Children and adults alike, respond well. Many people find that setting a sleep schedule helps them fall asleep easier. Your body has its a regulatory system – the circadian rhythm. This internal clock cues your body to feel alert during the day but sleepy at night.
Waking up and going to bed at the same times each day helps your internal clock keep a regular schedule. Once your body adjusts to this schedule, it will be easier to fall asleep and wake up around the same time every day.
It is also important to get around 8 hours of sleep each night. This has been shown to be the optimal sleep duration for adults.
It is important to allow 30 minutes to an hour to wind down in the evening before getting in bed. This allows your body and mind to relax and prepare for sleep and while perhaps quite obvious, is often ignored too.
Light influences your body’s internal clock, which regulates sleep and wakefulness. Irregular light exposure can lead to disruption of circadian rhythms, making it harder to fall asleep and stay awake. During the day, exposing your body to bright light tells it to stay alert. Therefore light – dark patterns affect sleep drive. It also drives thermoregulation in a complex communication pattern within the brain and the body.
At night, darkness promotes feelings of sleepiness. In fact, research shows that darkness boosts the production of melatonin, an essential hormone for healthy sleep and the avoidance of sleep disorders.
Exposure to natural sunlight or artificial bright light of the same wavelength throughout the day is beneficial. If possible, use blackout curtains to make your room dark at night, the way it would be in a natural (non light-polluted) environment. Blackout curtains work well and are easily available online.
Dr Stephen Bray 2020