How To Get To Sleep
A Complete Guide To Better Sleeping
If you’ve woken up from your sleep feeling like you need another 8 hours then this is the guide for you.
Most people just don’t realize how important good quality sleep is to their health. Maybe if people knew how much a lack of sleep can damage their immune system, they might think twice about burning the candle at both ends.
Realistically, everybody knows how to get to sleep, right? Just hop in bed, lie down and “viola”. If only it were that simple, hence the need for this very article.
What we all need to know is what we can do to make the process happen a little faster and how to get a good night of sleep that leaves us rested and genuinely recovered.
We’ve compiled the very best tips on how to sleep better by looking at what the science has to say about sleeping using the best methods possible.
Let’s look at all the factors that come into play and how we can adjust things to sleep a little easier and finally get the refreshing rest that only sleeping well can provide.
How Many Hours Sleep Do You Need?
We frequently hear experts telling us we need 8 hours sleep but the truth is this varies a lot depending on several factors.
As you age your body creates less melatonin and this means you don’t seem to need as much sleep. That’s only the perception, it isn’t to say that a person’s sleep requirements are necessarily less because of their age, but generally that is the case.
A Growing Body Needs More Sleep
8 hours isn’t going to be enough for a baby and try getting a teenager out of bed after only eight hours of sleeping.
It really is different for every individual because not every person of the same age requires the same amount of time sleeping either.
Active People Need More Sleep
Someone with an active lifestyle may need more sleep to recover, especially bodybuilders and resistance training athletes. When muscle tissue is broken down because of resistance training, the body will likely require more sleep than usual in order to recover and repair.
Sick People Need More Sleep
Someone who is sick could require a lot more sleep as their immune system is fighting infection much like someone with large external wounds who will also need a lot of time recuperating.
Rather than aiming for 8 hours, which is the bare minimum, you should aim to see how you feel after waking and either improve sleep quality or duration accordingly.
So, How Many Hours Sleep Do You Need For Optimum Health?
8 is the minimum, so realistically it’s not enough a lot of the time. Aim for more if you’re tired too often.
How Important Is Sleep?
The thing about sleep is, most people really do pay little attention to it. We all know we need enough to get by, but the number of people who actually maintain a tight schedule specifically for their sleeping patterns is very low.
Sure, life is full of surprises and many of them will keep you up and reinvent your schedule for you, but most days we have the opportunity to turn off the TV a little early and get straight to bed… But we don’t and we probably should.
Let’s look at what a lack of sleep can do to your health…
Did that get your attention? Well, lack of sleep can lead to early death and studies show people who get more sleep live longer and those who don’t get enough sleep may find themselves facing eternal slumber earlier.
Lack of sleep is so serious it can be fatal. This all correlates with the way lack of sleep affects health, recovery and general wellbeing, of course, so though death is a bit hyperbolic, it’s still true to a degree.
Serotonin affects your ability to focus and makes you drowsy. Lack of sleep leads to irritability and high cortisol levels, hunger and possible disruptions in your mood.
The discipline you have when well rested may be very different to when you are extremely tired meaning your choices can be impaired which could mean you’re possibly going to make some regretful decisions.
Cortisol levels increase when you’re lacking sleep and this is bad for the diet. People who are tired have increased hunger and make food choices that may lead to weight gain. On top of all that, the hormone cortisol itself promotes fat storage and that’s the last thing most people want. (1)
For all you hard trainers out there, this is the real nightmare. Lack of sleep often leads to decreases in muscle mass and is especially bad for those trying to recover from weight training workouts.
Muscle is precious and sleep helps you recover and grow you biggest metabolic asset.
A good night’s sleep relieves those muscle destroying hormones that may catabolize muscle proteins and undo so much hard work in the gym.
Most resistance trainers know how to get a good night of sleep because they understand it to of equal importance to diet and exercise. Some have to learn that mistake the hard way though.
Your job, relationship and even driving aptitude can be affected by not having sufficient sleep. Working can be hard when you burn the candle at both ends, but for those who work in technical jobs the inability to concentrate is dire if you don’t know how to get to sleep and rest efficiently.
As you can plainly see, the importance of sleep is not something to be taken lightly.
So, How Important Is Sleep To Your Average Person?
VERY! Without enough, you can lose focus, gain weight, lose muscle, make poor choices and be in a cranky mood.
How To Get To Sleep Using The Best Natural Sleep Remedies
In a later segment, we’ll cover medications that can help you with sleeping better, but it’s important to note that many of the best natural sleep remedies really can work well so we looked at the science and came up with some excellent tips on how to sleep better.
Let’s go ahead and look at some tips on how to sleep better using the best natural remedies and ideas:
The Sleep Schedule
Your body has something called a circadian rhythm which set’s itself up to sleep at the same time every night. You should make sure you use this to your advantage.
Schedule your bedtime every night at the same time. Each night your body releases melatonin the signaling agent which lets your entire body know it’s time for sleep. (2)
Use this to your advantage and play to your natural strengths.
Set yourself a goal of going to bed each night at the same time.
Avoid Bright Light
This plays into the way melatonin affects your ability to sleep. Our circadian rhythm signals that we need to sleep, but bright light sends a contrary message that it must still somehow be daytime.
The best thing to do to counter the double edge sword of modern technology is to avoid bright lights before bedtime, and you should dim the lights wherever you can and where that’s not possible, use ambient light from other rooms to give visibility to rooms you’re in.
Yes, avoiding bright lights means your technology too, so put the phone/laptop/tablet down.
Don’t Do Drugs
Just say no. We’re not talking about hard drugs either (that’s implied by the way), what we mean here is stay away from coffee, alcohol, and cigarettes (nicotine).
These drugs can overstimulate the brain and wreck havoc on your ability to get high quality rest.
As we discussed in a previous segment, beer, wine, and cigarettes can also affect REM sleep which is a very important part of the sleeping cycle.
Keep a reasonable distance between your vices and your bedtime.
Daily Exercise Can Help
As little as 20 minutes of exercise per day can naturally increase your ability to enjoy a deep sleep. Routines like HIIT training, boxing and rowing are excellent choices for shorter workouts.
Studies found that people who commit at least 20 minutes per day to some form of physical activity have an enhanced sleeping experience because of the effect on slow wake-sleep cycles. (3)
Just be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime because that can produce an elevated heart rate and body temperature that are not conducive to good quality sleep.
In the spirit of winding down in natural accordance to our circadian rhythms, taking time before bed to relax and lower the heart rate is an optimal way to assist the body on its way to sleep.
High intensity activities hurt your ability to fall asleep because of the effects on heart rate and body temperature.
Taking a bath or long shower or reading a book in dim light may be just the thing to allow you relax before falling asleep.
There are some really useful devices on the market that can play sounds like rain falling or an open campfire. This may help relax your mind ease you to sleep.
Whether you’d call this a natural remedy could be debated, but if it helps, it’s worth trying for some people.
Because tryptophan can help with sleeping, some people opt to eat high tryptophan foods before bed. Foods high in protein tend to be the best sources and these can include:
Cheese, eggs, turkey, nuts, salmon, tofu, and milk. By consuming these foods close to bedtime, you can possibly increase serotonin-melatonin production which can assist in creating a slumber-worthy environment.
Cool Down (Not Too Much)
Temperature affects the quality of your sleep. If you’re too hot, your body may believe that it’s still daytime your circadian rhythm could be thrown a little. (4)
If you’re too cold, your body might have to employ muscle twitching in order to warm you up which could accelerate your heart rate, which we’ve established is not good.
Finding a nice cool medium can help you to drift off in maximum comfort.
Okay, so not all these tips on how to sleep better are completely natural, but turning the air conditioner on to cool down because it’s a hot night is still a better idea than sweating awake for hours.
What’s The Take Away From This?
You’ve got options. Just be aware that overstimulation is the enemy of good sleep.
What Is REM Sleep?
REM sleep or rapid eye movement sleep is the fifth cycle of sleep your body passes through. The average human spends 20% of their time sleeping in REM sleep which is when you’re at your deepest state of slumber.
During the REM phase of sleep is when you have dreams (and nightmares).
People awakening during the REM phase of their sleep cycle can find themselves experiencing the most disorientation and derealization.
Because of the dizzy state of consciousness after waking up during REM sleep a person is much less likely to remember events that had occurred during that period of time, especially if they return to sleep and then wake again. (5)
Alcohol and nicotine can reduce the ability to progress through the sleep cycles especially to the REM phase of sleeping.
So, What Is REM Sleep? Is It Good?
It is your period of deepest sleep and very important. Because it’s when you dream, it’s also when you potentially have nightmares though, which for some with night terrors can be upsetting.
Formulating A Sleeping Plan
It’s really important to have a plan of attack if you’re having difficulty maintaining good sleeping patterns. A sleeping plan can help to stick to good habits exactly the same way a diet can.
If you take some ideas from the above section with those tips on how to sleep better, then you can put together a plan to help you fall asleep and stay that way.
Let’s look at a sample sleeping plan:
25 minutes exercise
No alcohol, cigarettes or coffee
Bath or shower
Dim all lights and read a book
Turn on rain sounds on sound device and relax your way to sleep.
It’s really as simple as putting the plan in place and following through.
It may take a little time, but the time you get back by not being tired can not be replaced and we’ve already discussed the dangers of going without sleep or having poor sleeping habits.
Do Sleeping Plans Work?
Only if you follow through. Plan ahead and stick with it to get a better sleep.
What Are Sleep Medications?
These are prescribed by a doctor and are closely monitored. Some sleep medications come with serious side effect warnings and many physicians prefer patients to make a sleep plan and follow a natural sleep cycle before prescribing these medications.
Some sleep medications are dangerous if the dosage is accidentally or purposefully increased, which is why extreme caution need to be metered if opting for medication.
Side effects of different sleep medication can range from drowsiness, memory loss, sleepwalking, sleep eating, hallucinations, depression, and agitation.
Are Sleep Medications Necessary?
This is something you need to discuss with a doctor who can evaluate your individual circumstances.
How To Get To Sleep – The Conclusion
Knowing that the amount of sleep each person needs varies considerably, you have to self-evaluate how you feel after sleeping to know whether you got enough.
Understanding the importance of sleep can be a motivating factor in establishing a solid sleeping routine and perhaps even encouraging oneself to create a sleep plan.
There are many natural ways to get to sleep and as we established in our tips on how to sleep better, so you have a few options to help you in your quest to slumber.
Medications exist, but they also come with some side effects which have to be considered.
We hope you like our article “how to get to sleep” and anticipate you getting a good night’s sleep soon. If you have trouble sleeping and think it’s affecting your health, please consider visiting your doctor.
The information herein contained in this article is not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any illness or complaint, please seek professional medical advice.