My Sleeping Problem Solutions From Having Had Chronic Sleep Deprivation
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Sleep. It’s essential. Even more so than many people realize. Countless studies have shown that not having enough sleep directly affects your mental and physical health and the quality of your waking life.
It alters your productivity, emotional balance, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and even your weight.
How much sleep we need varies between individuals and age (on average, children need at least 10 hours, teens 9-10, and adults 7-8 hours).
If you are half falling asleep during the day, or you’re forgetful, clumsy, or moody… you are, in fact, experiencing sleep deprivation. This is a condition that appears – yes you guessed it – from not having enough sleep.
We have all heard the general sleeping problem solutions. Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning, avoid large meals, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before bedtime, exercise every day, etc…
While they will most definitely help you to fall asleep better.
They don’t, however, really help you switch your brain off and wind down for the night, which is for most people – and indeed is for me – the most significant problem with sleep, or the lack of it.
So here, let me present you with some different sleeping problem solutions that I have learnt and used over the years.
They not only help me shut down my thoughts, fall asleep and keep me sleeping peacefully, but also help me to want to actually go to bed!
Remove Blue Light
Let me start by talking about one of the more prominent new age reasons affecting our sleep these days: blue light. The light displayed on your computer, phone, TV, etc. is made from blue light which is designed to look like the sun.
The problem with that, is that in the evening, this confuses our brain into thinking that it is still daytime and so it suppresses the production of melatonin (the sleep hormone).
Enabling night display on your phone, or installing the free program Flux on your laptop or computer, fixes this problem and is the first significant addition to this list of sleeping problem solutions.
What it does is simple: it removes the blue light, adapting your screen automatically to the time of day, warm at night, and like sunlight during the daytime. I can recommend doing this. It just takes a minute or two to either install Flux or enable night display on your phone.
There is new research coming out every day that suggests blue light does indeed affect our sleep.
And in the world we live in today, most people are exposed to blue light almost non stop, not only during the day but also throughout the evening.
So do take care to bring some sense back to your brain, by simply doing this little – but essential, first step to sleeping better.
Buy a Fiction Book
I have this obsessive drive to always want to learn more and more. In the past, I used to reach for my stack of nonfiction books in bed so I could keep on learning. And while I love reading these kinds of books, they don’t help to turn off my brain. In fact, it only turns it back on again.
Changing nonfiction to a good fiction book however, has been one of the most dramatic changes, and one of the best sleeping problem solutions.
I have figured out over the years that this helps me not only fall asleep better, but also want to go to bed. Yes, that’s right, a good fiction book makes me excited to go to bed, which has been problematic for me for a long time as I found going to bed just plain dull.
But now, I often look forward to bedtime simply because I can continue reading. It’s marvelous how a good story leaves you wanting more and more.
I prefer very easy-to-read fiction books that require as little thinking as possible, so I can completely shut down my brain, relax and just enjoy the ride.
By that I mean, I don’t like reading weighty drama, horror, or crime books. Therefore, I turn mostly to sci-fi, fantasy, or even children’s books (don’t laugh, some are amazing!).
And while I know it’s not for everyone – indeed, it doesn’t have to be in that category as there are many easy reads in other categories, such as romance and thrillers – I would recommend you try sci-fi or fantasy books.
Just to get you started. Here are a few I would recommend:
Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.
But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.
Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners.
A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.
And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible.
The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning — and he has something they need.
Not an object, but an experience. He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.
For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear.
For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible.
Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier “snapped” and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn.
A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.
Kelsier recruited the underworld’s elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge.
Only then does he reveal his ultimate dream, not just the greatest heist in history, but the downfall of the divine despot.
But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel’s plan looks more like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she’s a half-Skaa orphan, but she’s lived a much harsher life.
Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets, and gotten it. She will have to learn to trust, if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed.
This saga dares to ask a simple question: What if the hero of prophecy fails?
Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs.
But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard.
A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid.
But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.
Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.
The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature.
A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.
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Have a Bedtime Drink
Alright, so reading fiction is one thing that helps a lot. Now, let’s make it even better, and add some extra sleep fuel to this list of sleeping problem solutions. Yep, with a bedtime drink. There are two drinks here that work wonders.
There’s nothing better than a hot cup of warm milk. Now, if you don’t like milk or are allergic to it, skip through to the next bedtime drink.
If you do want milk and are not allergic, stay here to read how milk helps increase sleep. It is, in fact, not in the way many people think.
The general thought people have is that milk makes you fall asleep since it contains two substances which are known to be related to sleep and relaxation: the hormone Melatonin and the amino acid Tryptophan.
However, no study has shown milk to help us sleep because of the Melatonin and Tryptophan as the amount it contains is too low for the average person to benefit from any real effects.
So why drink that warm glass of milk then? Why do so many other articles with sleeping problem solutions even bother mentioning it? It can be quite misleading, so let me reveal some truth to it.
The reason why milk can help is in fact because of the psychological effect it brings. Our brains like routine and predictability.
Adding this process of making a hot cup of milk each night to your bedtime routine will have a relaxing effect on the brain as it will start to recognize this behavior and link it as part of the preparatory process for sleep.
Also, the distraction of making a cup of warm milk helps you direct your thoughts to something different.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar & Honey
Alright, the other bedtime drink I have here for you is Apple Cider Vinegar + Honey.
What you’ll need:
- 1 cup hot water
- Two tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar
- One tablespoon of organic honey
There are some remarkable benefits shown by researchers when drinking apple cider vinegar (ACV). It helps lower blood pressure, improve diabetes and support weight loss. Yes, that’s pretty marvelous.
Smart Alarm Clock
A final important point – wake up at the right moment. In the end, if you want to have good-quality sleep it does matter which stage of the sleep cycle you wake up in.
As you might or might not know, there are three stages in the standard sleep cycle before we move to REM Sleep.
Awake –> Light Sleep –> Deep Sleep.
Let’s take a look at each sleep stage.
The first stage is the one where you are still awake but decide to shut your eyes. Typically, it lasts between 1-10 minutes before you move to the next stage.
When you get into the light sleep stage, which usually lasts about 20 minutes, things get a bit more serious. You are still easy to wake up, but your body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and other metabolic functions all start to decrease. Your body is reducing its activity to prepare you to go into deep sleep.
During deep sleep, also known as Slow-Wave sleep or Delta sleep, you will sleep through most potential sleep disturbances. Not much later after that, you move into REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep where yes indeed, dreaming occurs.
That right there is the standard sleep cycle, which, on average, lasts 90 minutes, and happens multiple times every night.
Now, if your alarm clock wakes you up without taking the sleep cycle into account, you could be woken up during deep sleep or REM sleep. That’s when you wake up feeling groggy and tired, even though you might have slept 7-8 hours.
A smart alarm, such as the application Sleep Cycle, will calculate and analyze when you are in your lightest sleep phase.
It will then gently wake you up with a gradually louder tone, at the right moment, helping you to wake up all refreshed and rested.
I highly recommended the application Sleep Cycle, as there are a ton of other neat features that come with it, such as tracking your sleep patterns, intelligent snooze, when/how you snore (in case you would like to know), and many more functions.
Understand that in the end, it is fundamental to wake up during the right stage of the sleep cycle.
All the other tips above are excellent sleeping problem solutions that will help you, however, if you don’t wake up at the right moment, you won’t feel the benefit.
Note that it might very well be that it has become a standard feeling for you to wake up disturbed in the middle of the sleep cycle, so you do not notice how it should feel to wake up naturally during your light sleep.
That was very much the case for me, and all the more reason to give this a try.
That’s all I would do. Sure you could use meditation, or do some breathing exercise, or whatever else.
But the longer the list of things to do to improve your sleep, the more you start thinking, when you are not falling asleep, what else there is on the list to do.
Meaning, you’ll be activating your brain again. Simplicity is the key to many things. So it is with a sleep routine.
Sleeping Problem Solutions Summary:
- Reduce your exposure to blue light by having Flux or turning on night display.
- Have an evening routine, such as making a glass of warm milk.
- Find a book that leaves you excited to go to bed.
- Use a smart alarm such as Sleep Cycle, to wake you up during the right stage of the sleep cycle.
All combined, these sleeping problem solutions work wonders. It really sucks to struggle with falling asleep, especially if it is on a regular or even daily basis.
For years I have struggled with chronic sleep problems. While the sleeping problem solutions I’ve outlined here in this article might sound simple, they do however make a huge difference for me. Hopefully, they can do so for you as well.
Give them a try, and let me know how you feel after two weeks to a month. I’ll be curious to hear about it.