If you love life, don't waste time, for time is what life is made up of. - Bruce Lee
Struggling to fall asleep is something we can all relate to. The majority of us are all too familiar with this scenario: It’s 10:30pm on a weekday - time for bed. It’s going to be a busy day tomorrow. By getting to bed early, we’re ensuring a productive day ahead of us. There have been sleepless nights before - but this is not one of those nights! So we’ll lie down, maybe with our laptop or cell phone, and before we know it, it’s 3:00 in the morning and we’re 90 minutes into a Lord of the Rings movie.
All this would be fine if we were nocturnal animals (and who doesn’t love Lord of the Rings), but unfortunately, most of us have classes, a job, or other responsibilities that are expected of us during the day. Tiredness prevents are brain and body from working to it’s full potential. Although much about sleep is still a mystery, we know the brain needs periods of unconsciousness to process conscious experience. Turning to coffee or 5-Hour Energy can temporarily solve the problem. However, they are no substitute for a good night's sleep.
We want to feel our eyes get slowly heavier as 11:00pm approaches, notice our mind start to drift off into la-la land, rest our heads, and then, like magic, it’s morning! It may sound like a dream (pun intended), especially having this experience happen night after night. But it’s very possible. Here are a few habits to get you dreaming again.
Lighting - You’ll want to stay away from light in the hours before you sleep. More specifically, blue light (emitted from electronics). This type of light can throw off our sleep rhythm and confuse our biological clock. Naturally, when we see light, our brain - which has been evolving for billions of years without the presence of technology - thinks, Oh it’s bright.. I should probably go looking for food or potential mates. And as a result, we are restless.
There are a few methods to cheat your brains recognition of blue light (like browser extensions that will change screen color and blue light blocking glasses). But they are no real substitution for a nice dark room.
Breathing - If blue light is too tempting, controlled breathing is another route to better sleeps. The 4-7-8 Method has grown in popularity recently and involves controlling breath for counts of 4,7, and 8. The method, which apparently takes practice to master, is said to be able to put you asleep in 60 seconds. If nothing else, breathing exercises help us relax. And relaxation is probably the most important tool for getting to sleep.
Staying out of bed during the day - The brain is certainly a recurring theme when talking about sleep. The human brain is an network of connections. Some of the connections our brain makes could be harmful for falling asleep. Light (from above) is an example of this. Another more day to day example is the connection our brain makes with our bed. Our brains perceives places we spend time in during the day to be those that need conscious awareness. Beds are the best example of this. By spending time in bed during the day, our brain (which at this point in the article, we are starting to despise), associates bed with daytime activity.
Hopefully, leaving the bed at some point during the day isn’t too challenging, but even lying down after work can cause sleep problems later in the night.
Exercise - Because sleep is largely a process to regain energy, it helps to use up energy given by the previous night. Going back to biology, our brain knows that exerting energy during the day is necessary. Our brain is used to working for food (as opposed to working for money to buy food). So when we lay down after a day being behind a desk, our brain is getting conflicting messages. Hopping on the Core Flytes for a few minutes a day can help here!
Final Thoughts: Ultimately falling asleep is still largely an involuntary process that will happen best naturally. The best method is the one that’ll put you at ease. Find your happy place and your brain will do the rest.
Be Flyte Fit,
Marketing and Customer Engagement Manager