Getting sleep is an important part of life. “Outside of bacon and sex, sleep is the most important thing on the planet, ”he says MH Counselor W. Chris Winter, MD, neurologist, sleep specialist and author of several books on sleep, including The rested child. And with good reason. When you lack quantity and quality Zs, you leave yourself open to a host of problems, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression.
Even if you do all the right things to promote a good night’s sleep, including regular exercise, sleeping on a schedule, avoiding alcohol at night, sleeping at cooler temperatures and keeping your room dark and calm, good sleep can sometimes still be a struggle. Fortunately, this is not always a major cause for concern. “An occasional cupcake or a forgotten meal is irrelevant. If one of them becomes the standard, it is deadly. The same with sleep. Night sleep is not such a big deal,” says Dr. Winter, noting that the difference between insomnia and insomnia are the anxiety you choose to bring to the situation.
Still, it does not mean that you can not snooze less annoying. If you are having problems, here are a few things at the moment you should and should not do.
Just enjoy the rest. Really.
You may not think there is value in just closing your eyes and lying in bed even though sleep evades you, but the truth is that rest is hugely beneficial from a physical and cognitive perspective, according to Dr. Winter, who says we put too much emphasis on tips for falling asleep. Rest is a way to get your body and mind to relax. “If it’s impossible not to sleep, we just have to take ourselves off the hook and be safe by being awake in bed. It is not something to fear, ”explains Dr. Winter, who also says we need to remove the word “unconsciousness” from our list of goals when we go to bed. “I would say if you do not mind being in bed, awake, thinking, meditating, praying, thinking about your celebrity infatuation … stay there,” says Dr. Winter.
Stay away from the screens
We understand that if you have turned and turned and sleep has not yet come, you may want to reach for your remote control for the television or grab your phone for a little thoughtless scrolling to pass the time. Do not. You do not want to use any electronics or devices with bright light, advises Kuljeet (Kelly) Gill, MD, a sleep medicine specialist at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, as the incandescent light, AKA blue light, can interfere with sleep even more by suppressing the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycles.
Use only your bed for sleep
One of the biggest sleep disorders: Using the bed for something other than sleeping. “Just go to bed to sleep,” says Alcibiades J. Rodriguez, MD, FAASM, medical director, NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Center-Sleep Center and Associate Professor of Neurology NYU Grossman School of Medicine. (Okay, and sex too.) Here’s the thing, slipping between the sheets should signal that it’s time for, well, sleep. If you do other things just before bedtime, whether it’s working on your laptop or having a snack, your brain will start connecting your resting place like anything other than what it’s made for.
Getting out of bed
Whether you have trouble drifting out into dreamland at the beginning of the night or falling asleep again after waking up in the middle of the night, it can be helpful to just be in bed for that long. Several experts say that if sleep does not occur after about 20 minutes, “get up and leave bed and do something relaxing, low energy and in low light such as reading, meditation or deep breathing,” adds Dr. Gill. And do not look at the clock, adds Dr. Rodriguez. Seeing these minutes and hours tick by can increase your worry factor and prolong the time it takes to go from wakefulness to sleep.
When should you return to bed? Dr. Winter is not a fan of putting a time limit on the situation. “It just increases the stress,” he says. “I would say go back to bed if you feel sleepy. If not, stay up as late as you want and do not despair about it.”
What you really need to remember: “Lying in bed and not falling asleep right away, or waking up during the night, is not terrible for me. It’s not even difficult. It’s just that,” says Dr. Winter. “What’s hard is the work some people have to do to get out of this kind of thinking. Most people do not want to do that. They want a pill or a simple trick. They actually do not want to explore the meaning of insomnia … and the fact that it’s really just fear … not lack of sleep. “
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