I know a lot of people who have trouble sleeping for different reasons. Personally, anxiety is the main issue among other things I would prefer to discuss with a therapist. Over the years, I’ve tried a few remedies to improve my sleep. I learnt most of them from therapy so the first thing I would recommend is therapy or counselling. However, I know therapy is a complicated subject for some people, so I’ll just share some other things that have worked for me. Even so,please see a counsellor if you can afford to. Your mental health is important.
Here are my three main tips.
Technology is a huge part of human life. We are constantly trying to make things smarter, easier and more efficient. To facilitate this push for efficiency and ease there are now apps for almost everything including sleep. This is why my first recommendation is sleep apps.
Since I acknowledged my sleeping problems, I have tried a few sleep apps. However, my favourites of all I tried are Sleepiest and Sleep Cycle. They both serve different purposes and they are very useful for not just sleep but productivity as well.
Right off the bat I’m just going to say that this app saved me when I needed to get a good night or day’s rest. The first time I tried it I was at my friend’s house. We were both tired and we squeezed into her single bed which was not fun for me at all. I generally find it very difficult to sleep with my body directly in contact with another living thing so for the first thirty minutes my mind would not shut up and my body would not stay still. For her own peace of mind my friend who is arguably more anxious than I am opened this app and played a bedtime story. The creators of this app claim that it can get you to sleep up to eleven times faster than you normally would. I have to say that this claim is true because I was out like a light in ten minutes which is simply a miracle. I think Sleepiest is amazing because when I’m not in the mood for stories I can just listen to nature sounds or white noise and music. If those don’t appeal to you, there’s also an option for you to compose your own sleeping sounds. The app also offers guided meditation which really helps to calm your mind and body down before bed. The drawbacks are that only a few sounds and stories are actually available without a subscription and this app is currently unavailable for android devices. There is a 7 day free trial but to unlock all the benefits you have to pay a fee of about 3,600 naira monthly.
You can download it here.
Sleep Cycle (Alarm Clock)
This app is essentially an alarm clock with the primary purpose of making sure you wake up rested and ready for the day. We all know that to wake up energised you have to go to bed at a reasonable time. However, when you wake up also has a huge effect on how you feel in the morning.
The term sleep cycle is used to refer to the five stages of sleep collectively. According to the app, stages one and 2 are light sleep, stages 3 and 4 are deep sleep and stage five is REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM sleep is the stage at which dreaming takes place. A sleep cycle lasts for a period of about 90 minutes on average so when we sleep, we actually move from one stage to another. As we move between stages, our physical movements also change. It has been claimed that people who wake up in the middle of deep sleep wake up tired, so this app basically takes note of the time at which you go to bed, records your movements using an accelerometer in your phone and analyses that information to determine what kind of sleep mode you’re in.
The aim of the app is to wake you up when you’re in light sleep (stages 1 and 2) so that you wake up rested not tired. Personally, I think this app is amazing but I’m not sure about how well it would work for someone who doesn’t really move around while they are asleep.
ELIMINATE BLUE LIGHT
Blue light is the light emitted by electronic devices and many studies have found that it has a bad effect on our ability to sleep.
In the brain, there is an organ called the pineal gland. This gland is responsible for releasing melatonin which is the sleep hormone. The pineal gland often begins to release melatonin a few hours before your bed time but blue light interferes with this function. Studies have found that when people read on a tablet instead of paper before bed it takes them longer to fall asleep and they do not have enough REM sleep which means they wake up feeling sleepy even when they get the seven to nine hours of rest recommended for high productivity.
To prevent this stay away from blue light at least two hoursbefore bed. It’s bad for you!
This one is a bit obvious but also very important. After a long day out, I like to take some time to relax and wind down before bed. My pre bed time ritual involves having a shower (because this country is way too hot), brushing my teeth, filling a glass of water for my bedside table and putting on some calm music (right now I’m really into Charlotte Day Wilson). Once all that is done, I get under the covers depending on how hot it is, and I daydream until I lose consciousness. Just thinking about this makes me sleepy. This ritual might not work for everyone but just like your skin care routine, it has to be tailored to suit your nature or personality and your needs.
One last point I would like to make is please try not to think about anything stressful before bed and ignore all those people who say things like rich people don’t sleep. Sleep is important and it has many health benefits. Having healthy sleeping habits has a positive effect on memory and people with bad sleeping habits risk developing Alzheimer’s disease as they get older.
Remember, health is wealth.