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How to transform your sleep

Getting enough sleep is often considered a luxury, but it can also lead to poor health. The meta-analysis revealed that being sleep-deprived increases one’s risk of dying. Also, being sleep-less for a long time increases one’s risk of assorted chronic diseases. If you think that sleeping less than the recommended amount is good for your health, think again. A meta-analysis conducted in 2018 revealed that an excessive amount of sleep is as harmful as not getting enough.


I read a sleep scientist addressing on the topic; sleep, that repeatedly hitting the snooze button doesn’t motivate people. The important issue is that people tend to get too little sleep. Many people could use some help getting a decent night's sleep. The good news is that there are many simple steps which will help improve your sleep quality and overall well-being.


The biology of sleep


Sleep is not an influence we can control. It can only be influenced by our actions and attitudes. It is a biological necessity like drinking water. During sleep, your body can recharge and recover. It is believed that sleep helps store and consolidate information that has been learned during the day. This is also true for muscle memory.


3 factors that control your sleep


A good night’s sleep is linked to a day’s wakefulness. It can even affect the following day’s wakefulness. Getting caught up on sleep after a late night out is what most of us tend to do. But this oversimplification can be very challenging to overcome.


The 2-process model describes how sleep regulation works. It states that the various factors that affect sleep onset and duration are interrelated to each other.


  1. Sleep Drive (Process S): A lot of people know that sleeping is a biological hunger drive. It accumulates while you’re awake. This is caused by a neurotransmitter known as adenosine. Your brain's natural metabolic process produces adenosine, which lowers your energy-producing cells' activity and makes you feel sluggish. As a result, high levels of adenosine can trigger sleep deprivation. Like your phone’s battery, it needs a certain amount of sleep each night to recharge. Getting enough sleep can help you recharge your battery and reduce your sleep drive. But it can also work against you if you try to sleep in late. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen often. Usually, people tend to wake up feeling great after lowering their adenosine levels. However, this doesn’t last long once they start to sleep. You can’t fall asleep even though you spent 12 hours in bed. Getting enough sleep is the key to having a good night's rest. After a good night's sleep, most people should be awake for around 16 hours.

  2. Circadian Rhythm (Process C): Your circadian rhythm is your body's 24-hour biological clock. It controls how alert you feel. Your body's natural response to sleep is to increase its frequency, which means that it will drive or quiet down throughout the day. This is when the circadian alerting signal suddenly surges and causes you to feel tired. Your circadian clock is responsible for regulating your body’s sleep patterns. It can also cause drowsiness by suppressing its quiet signal. In cultures, people tend to sleep in order to get “siesta,” which is when they feel like they're getting tired. Your internal clock is working hard to keep you up after a long night. This is because your sleep drive is now high. It has been theorized that this phenomenon is evolutionary. It means that instead of falling asleep when the sun goes down, you have time to prepare for its wakefulness. Ever feel like you're exhausted after returning home from work? This is the second wind that will wake you up once your alarm has gone off. Once it does, you'll fall asleep.

  3. Fight-or-Flight Response (Process W): The fight-or-flight response is a part of our brains’ natural response to danger. It activates when we sense that we’re in danger. Imagine you’re a cave-dwelling human in times of yore and as you sleep, you start to stress about whether a bear is going to enter your cave. You can’t fall asleep, and your stress response keeps you up late. In modern times, stress is a big concern. It affects our thoughts and behavior, and it keeps our brains busy.


Questions to change your sleep


  1. How long will you sleep? Each day, our bodies and brain accumulate a need for sleep. The majority of healthy adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep a night. How many hours do you typically get when you don't wake up and set an alarm? This is the number of hours that you'll want to shoot for each night.

  2. When will you wake up? Your biological clock will tell its internal clock when it gets tired. It can detect the time when you wake up and start producing a rhythm. Having a set of guidelines on how to get up will help you get organized and make sure that you’re not stuck with a schedule that doesn’t work for you. It’s important to consider your body’s natural rhythms when selecting a time to wake up. Ideally, start with your usual rise time and move it around a half-hour every three to four days. This will help you get up and ready to go for bed. For people who tend to feel sluggish in the mornings, try incorporating some movement into their day. Doing simple chores can help lift up your mood.

  3. When will you go to bed? Take the number of hours that you need to wake up and count backward from your scheduled rise time. This will tell you how long it will take for you to feel rested after sleeping. You might think that this is impossible, but try to imagine that you need eight hours of sleep. Then, imagine that you want to get up at 5 a.m. You now have two choices: Get a ride home or set a later rise time. Both options are practical, and both will likely work for you.

  4. How can you make your bedtime a reality? One hour before bedtime. This is when you should avoid activities that can stimulate or distract you. Use these tips to minimize blue light exposure and avoid activities that can make you fall asleep too early. A half-hour before bed, develop a routine that will allow you to relax and enjoy the rest of the day. Some of these activities include: Change into your pajamas, Talk to your partner, Set out your clothes for tomorrow, Preparing lunch.

  5. How long can you follow it? We all make mistakes in our healthy habits. However, none of these are bad habits. The most important factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle is consistency. If you can keep up with your plan for six nights a week, then it’s fine to make exceptions for late night hikes, late night walks, or even sleeping in bed on Sunday mornings.

  6. Does the plan affect anyone else? We make our own sleep habits and routines. These decisions have a direct impact on the routines and sleep habits of others. For instance, if you’re planning on changing your schedule, how will this affect your partner? For instance, how will it affect their sleep schedule? How do you make sure that your kids' schedule is consistent with what they do? If they sometimes go to bed at 8:30, but then wake up 23 times in the between, how will you manage to get them to sleep? Tell us why you’re making these changes, and then ask us to work together on implementing these changes for a couple of weeks. It could help lower your stress levels and improve your sleep habits. If everyone is on board, then you can come up with a few solutions that work for everyone. For instance, if you go to bed first, then everyone else will too.


Truth about naps


Do I need to regularly nap? Many people can’t do it because they work, and napping is a hardcore habit. Sometimes, working a full-time job can make it hard to recharge overnight. For instance, if you work as a personal trainer, you might start working in the mornings and evenings. Sometimes, it’s smart to schedule an afternoon nap as a part of your sleep routine. This can help lower your risk of getting too tired after a long nap. Naps are good for you. They can help keep you up and going, and they can help with your sleep schedule. Naps are often used to make up for a hard night of sleep. This will lower your sleep drive and make it harder to fall asleep.


How to sleep better: Your 14-day plan


For this exercise, try to answer the six questions above to determine how you’ll sleep better. Once you have done this, set a goal for how long you’ll get up.

  • Having the blinds open can help you get up and feel better in the morning. It’s also beneficial to start the day early by making coffee, taking a shower, or checking social media. Varying the duration of your morning routine can help you get used to it.

  • You can also shift your bedtime. Doing so will help lower your stress levels and increase your sleep efficiency.

  • Family members can also help you get started. Follow this plan for two weeks, and then re-assess once a week to see how it's going. There are also three reasons why improving sleep matters to you.

If you answered yes to all the questions, that’s great. You’ve finally found a sleep routine that works for you. Your sleep schedule will stay consistent throughout your life no matter what happens. It’s also easy to get back on track after a few temporary changes. If you feel like you’re doing everything right, but still feel exhausted, then maybe it’s time to reassess what you’re doing. There are two possible reasons for this; You didn’t go far enough: you can either try to extend your time in bed by 15 minutes or 30 minutes. If that doesn't work, try another 15 minutes. There’s a different reason why you’re tired: If it’s happening to you, talk to a healthcare provider about it. Sleep disorders are typically unnoticed and untreated. If you suffer from sleep disorders, it is time to seek professional help. Sleep deprivation is a common issue that many people face. In fact, it’s the reason why many people spend thousands of dollars on luxuries that they seldom use. Yet many people still struggle with their sleep habits and wake up tired.


This can be solved by focusing on the parts of your life that can be changed to get better sleep.


 

References

1. Basheer R, Strecker RE, Thakkar MM, McCarley RW. Adenosine and sleep-wake regulation. Prog Neurobiol. 2004 Aug;73(6):379–96. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pneurobio.2004.06.004

2. Borbély AA, Daan S, Wirz-Justice A, Deboer T. The two-process model of sleep regulation: a reappraisal. J Sleep Res. 2016 Apr;25(2):131–43. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jsr.12371


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