What Gets Measured Gets Managed
To improve your quality of sleep, you need to know the barriers that are disrupting your sleep. For that, you must track your routine and everyday habits to see what’s keeping you from having a good night’s sleep.
All you need to do is start recording your actions for at least a week, including
• Time You Go To Bed
• Time You Get Up In The Morning
• Your Nap Time During The Day (If Any)
• What And When You Eat
• Your Sleeping Environment (Everything That Could Be Keeping You Awake)
• Your Pre-Sleep Routine (Including Use Of Gadgets And TV Time)
• The Number Of Times You Get Up During Sleep (Either Due To Noise, A Full Bladder Or Mere Lack Of Sleepiness)
• Daily Physical Activity
Reasons for Poor Sleep
Once you are done gauging your current sleep schedule, you can start to identify things that are causing poor sleep. It could be anything from eating too late or sleeping too much during the day. Sleep problems can be complex and it can get affected by more than one factor. So, let’s look at a few things that could be getting in the way of good sleep.
A lot of people find that a nightcap will help them sleep faster and longer, and while that’s true, alcohol affects your sleep in the long run. You may fall asleep faster, but over time, you will lose the ability to fall into deeper stages of sleeping, which means you will be getting up more than once during the night. Simply stop consuming alcohol altogether, or at least refrain from drinking before going to bed.
Your phone, TV, laptop and other gadgets all emit blue light, which essentially messes with your sleep pattern. Your brain is fooled into thinking it is daytime, which in turn reduces your sleeping inducing hormone, i.e. melatonin. Thus, before sleep avoid using all gadgets at least half an hour before and remove all sources of artificial light from your room.
Certain foods, especially ones that are rich in carbohydrates, spike your blood sugar level. In response, your body releases a large amount of insulin and your blood sugar drops. This drop causes an increase in stress hormones, which means you won’t be falling asleep anytime soon. To battle this issue, consume small snacks that are not rich in carbohydrates, such as almond or peanut butter, whole wheat crackers, milk, yogurt or banana.
Lack of Sleep Schedule
Your mind and body are built to follow a schedule and lack of one could cause sleep problems. Most people feel that part of enjoying their weekend is to sleep late and get up late the next morning. As tempting as that sounds, sleeping in on weekends will disrupt the following weekdays. So, let your body follow its circadian rhythm by keeping a strict sleep schedule.
Where you sleep plays a huge role in your quality of sleep. If the room’s too cold or too hot, you are unlikely to have comfortable sleep. If there is too much light pouring in or you live by a busy street, you will probably spend the night tossing and turning. To create the perfect sleeping environment, draw the drapes, create some white noise and adjust the temperature of your room. This also includes having a comfortable mattress and pillow to sleep on.
While the above problems can be dealt with easily, there are other problems more complex. For instance, your sleep can get affected by psychological problems and emotional distress, which could easily lead to insomnia.
You could also be suffering from medical problems or illnesses and maybe the medication you are taking is disrupting your sleep pattern. Sleep disorders are also fairly common, such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome. These problems are a lot more serious and require the help of a healthcare professional.
The communication of neurons within our brains is called brain waves. These brain waves are the root of all our thoughts, emotions and behaviors, including our ability to have a good night’s sleep. With the help of sensors placed on the scalp, we can read brainwaves.
The different bandwidths allow us to understand what part of the brain is being triggered. While brain waves are quite complex, here is a simplified explanation of the different types of brainwaves. Brainwaves are measures in Hertz and they are divided into bands that show slow, moderate and fast waves.
Infra-Low (< 0.5 Hz) The basic cortical rhythms are the infra-low brainwaves which indicate higher brain function. Since they are slow, this makes it hard to detect and measure them, which has led to little research in this area. Delta Waves (0.5 To 3 Hz) Delta waves are slow brainwaves but they are loud. These brainwaves occur when the mind is in deep meditation and sleeping dreamlessly. During this stage, healing and regeneration is triggered, which is why restorative sleep is so important for the healing process. Theta Waves (3 To 8 Hz) Theta brainwaves also occur during sleep and they are our door to learning and memory. This is during deeper meditative stages of sleep where our senses become disconnected with the rest of the world. The dreams in theta are vivid and the information is beyond our normal consciousness. It’s a place where we hold our anxieties, fears and troubled history. Alpha Waves (8 To 12 Hz) Alpha waves are present during deep thoughts and only in some meditative states. These brainwaves are essentially all about being in the present. The resting state of your brain is alpha and it helps with mental coordination, calmness, alertness and learning. Beta Waves (12 To 38 Hz) Our normal waking consciousness is controlled by beta waves where we are concentrating on cognitive tasks and interacting with the outside world. These waves are fast, especially when we are alert, attentive, solving problems, judging, making decisions or other mental activities. Gamma Waves (38 To 42 Hz) Gamma brainwaves are the fastest and they are present when information is being processed. This rapid passing of information happens when the person is engaging in strong emotions of love, selflessness or higher virtues. This area still requires quite a bit of research. What Brainwaves Mean For Sleep When our brainwaves are not in balance, it starts to interfere with our emotional and neurological health, including our sleep. Anxiety, sleep problems, nightmare and other psychological issues are often linked to over-arousal in certain brain areas. Under-arousal, on the other hand, can cause depression, chronic pain and insomnia. To keep our brainwaves in balance, it’s important to train them through meditation and yoga. Also engaging in problem solving tasks can alter your brainwaves to its original and healthy state. For more information here is our book: Sleep Smarter, Not Harder
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