Half the battle to getting enough sleep is constructing a nightly schedule to go to bed at an ideal time. While most people will fall into a natural routine thanks to the hustle and bustle of their day-to-day lives, it can sometimes be hard to attain a healthy sleep pattern.
Causes of a poor sleep pattern
There are a number of factors which can directly contribute to a poor sleep pattern. These range from what you’re doing directly before bed, to your hours of sleep. Let’s explore some of them.
Eating too close to bed – Snacking, or even eating your dinner right before bed is an almost guaranteed way of disrupting your nocturnal habits. This happens because your stomach acid becomes active and, when you lie down, travels up your gullet to cause irritation. If you want to satisfy your midnight cravings, opt for food like cereal with milk. These contain tryptophan and calcium, which help encourage sleep.
Caffeine in the evening – It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that having drinks which are high in caffeine before bed will hinder your chances of getting rest. If you make a habit of having caffeinated drinks before trying to sleep, you’re bound to keep yourself awake longer.
Technology in bed – Having engaging technological devices in bed will keep you up for a couple of reasons. For one thing, what you’re watching will probably keep you from drifting off. As well as that, the light which smartphones and laptops emit keeps the human eye active – making it harder to relax, even after it has been switched off.
Sleeping in too late on weekends – We all love a lie-in, but it’s important to remember there’s a limit. Even though you might not feel like getting out of bed at 8am on a Saturday, you probably should. You’ll benefit from sticking to a similar routine throughout the week. If you’ve adjusted to a set amount of sleep per night, your body won’t suddenly adapt.
In other words, if you get a regular eight hours sleep and wake up at 7am most days, but wake up at 11am on the weekend, there’s a good chance you’ll fall asleep four hours later than usual. Try to stem this overlap as much as possible by cutting your lie-in short.
Odd hours – On a similar note, a general lack of routine is a key contributing factor to poor sleep patterns. This won’t be an issue if you’re employed with a regular 9-5 routine, but it often plays havoc for students and shift workers. Having no set time to head to sleep or get up can result in a sleep pattern descending into chaos.
Quality of mattress – The material and comfort of your mattress will have a huge impact on how easily you’re able to nod off. Interestingly, a study carried out by the Sunday Rest team found as many as 30% of people who slept on a new mattress (one bought within the last three years) found it considerably easier to fall asleep.
City of sleep – The same survey found the city you sleep in will also have a major impact on how well you drift off. It showed 37% of people living in Bangalore are asleep by 10pm, while only 10% of citizens in Delhi are in bed by that same time. This trend continues across the world. Ambient noise and working hours have a direct impact on this.
Do you suffer from a lack of sleep because of any of these factors? Fear not if you do. There’s always a solution to any problem – and that’s certainly the case when it comes to getting your sleep fixed. If you’re guilty of any of these, address the issue head on.
Tips to help you fall asleep easily
Even with that in mind, it isn’t always easy to actually fall asleep in the first place. Just because you’ve addressed the immediate issues, it doesn’t mean you’ll magically be able to nod off the second you lie down and close your eyes.
For some people, the act of actually falling asleep can be just as challenging as arranging a healthy sleeping pattern. To heighten your chances of quickly dozing off, try some of these useful steps:
Go to bed when you’re tired – Even if it’s as early as 6pm, don’t force yourself to stay awake. If you’re feeling tired enough to sleep at that time, there’s probably a reason. The most likely reason will be because you haven’t had enough sleep recently.
Make your bedroom more sleep-inducing – Set up an environment which is perfect for encouraging someone to fall asleep. If you’re unsure what that constitutes, it could include the likes of:
- Making a room as dark or dimly lit as possible
- Keeping the room cool (not too hot or cold)
- Reducing the noise and distractions as much as possible
- Limiting your activity in the bedroom to sleeping and relaxing
Come up with a pre-sleep routine – Just as you have a routine which you stick to before cooking and working, you could easily craft one for before you head to sleep. Pick something which relaxes you and stick to this on a regular basis before you attempt to hit the hay. Taking a bath is a particularly effective choice, as this rise and fall in body temperature encourages drowsiness.
Don’t check the clock – Waking up and constantly checking the time will not help you fall asleep any easier. It’ll probably have the opposite effect – causing you to stress out regarding how quickly time is passing. If you have to, turn your clock to face away, and don’t have your phone nearby to check. The light and notifications are an immediate distraction from restful sleep.
Exercise early – Getting involved in something particularly active right before bed isn’t smart, as it’ll raise the adrenaline levels in your body. If you’re going to exercise, make sure you do it well before the time when you’d go to sleep. This will allow adrenaline to wear off before you attempt to doze.
How to stay asleep
Once you’ve drifted off, the battle’s only half won. Falling asleep and staying asleep are two very different beasts. It’s not quite as black and white when it comes to staying in your slumber. Regardless, here are some tips for trying:
Eat certain foods – Some foods are proven to have a relaxing impact on the body. These include the likes of honey, grain and bananas. With the chemical reaction these trigger, there’s a good chance you’ll stay relaxed throughout the night.
Get a white noise machine – White noise machines work by emitting a sound which remains consistent. The aim is to provide a background noise for the mind to adjust to, which theoretically helps an individual fall asleep. If this plays all night there’s a good chance the consistency will carry your sleep through to morning. It’s the same reason many people find a fan comforting whilst they sleep.
Meditate – Another means of achieving greater relaxation, meditation serves to calm the mind, body and soul. It stands to reason it should help encourage a deep night’s sleep. In a much more relaxed state, there’s a good chance you’ll make it through the night without waking.