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Sleep advice you won't hear from anyone

Improved sleep without giving up technology

By T MANJUNATHAPublished 2 years ago 9 min read

You are probably already aware of the negative impacts of lack of sleep if you've ever had a bad or even average night's rest, which studies and polls suggest a good proportion of people have experienced. Lack of sleep can impair thinking and reaction time in addition to making you sluggish and lethargic, and it can also affect your judgement. Long-term sleep loss has been associated with increased risk of obesity, diabetes, anxiety, and depressive disorders.

Sleeping problems can be caused by a variety of things and are not a reflection of how well-organized or efficient your life is. Shift work, children's erratic sleeping patterns, stress, intense evening light (from both house lighting fixtures and technology), the pandemic, and sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea can all make it difficult for a person to get enough sleep. The root cause of sleep deprivation is society as a whole, thus people shouldn't blame themselves for these problems.

Despite all of the contemporary sleep-related challenges, you can enhance both the quality and quantity of your sleep, and you don't even need to leave your phone in a different room to do it.

Observe your body.

Educate Vox about its future.We want to learn more about you and your needs in order to better serve you. Take this Vox survey.The majority of quantifiers are rather ambiguous when it comes to sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises adults to get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, but according to sleep psychologist Jade Wu, author of the soon-to-be-released book Hello Sleep: The Science and Art of Overcoming Insomnia Without Medicines, "the magic number is really dependent on the person."

Instead, Vanessa Hill, a behavioural scientist at Central Queensland University and producer of the YouTube series BrainCraft, advises individuals to pay attention to how they feel when they get up and throughout the day. The body will become tired during the day if it doesn't receive enough sleep. Take a look inside to see why: sleeping too late? Having difficulty sleeping? Having trouble staying asleep?

Wu emphasises the significance of understanding the difference between "sleepy" and "tired" in order to help you assess how well-rested you feel during the day. Sleepiness shows itself in the body as heavy, droopy eyelids and a general feeling of exhaustion. Physical fatigue can also occur, but it typically results from a lack of mental energy, a loss of inspiration, or motivation. Wu explains that if you feel drowsy during the day, it is likely that you slept poorly or not at all the night before. "It's possible that you didn't get enough sleep if you feel exhausted during the day. You could be dehydrated, bored, or depressed, for example.

Wu asserts that sleeping is the easiest—though possibly not most obvious—remedy for being tired. Instead of resting, you can beat fatigue by taking a break during the workday, consuming some water, hanging out with friends, or going dancing. Wu argues that going to bed could not be the solution and even be counterproductive since if you go to bed when you're exhausted but not yet sleepy, you'll likely develop insomnia.

Take your signal from your body and hit the sheets just when you're tired rather than forcing yourself into bed at a specific hour every night and battling to fall asleep, advises Wu. Then, she continues, "instead of us imposing our idea of how much sleep we need, we give our bodies an opportunity to tell us, 'Here's what I need.

Try to keep your room as dark, cool, and quiet as you can for the best sleeping conditions, advises Hill. Allow your body to choose the most comfortable temperature; everyone will have a different preference depending on their body type, the weight of their bedding, what they wear to bed, whether they sleep with a spouse or pet(s), and whether they tend to run hot or cold. Hill recommends using blackout curtains, a white noise machine, or a smart speaker to block off light and distracting noise from your bedroom. If you don't want to spend the money on a new gadget, you can download many white noise apps for your iPhone, which also includes a white noise feature.

It can feed into an unhelpful preoccupation, so resist the urge to use sleep tracking apps to monitor and analyse your sleep data. To strive to improve your sleep merely for its own sake is not helpful, according to Hill.

one issue at a time

After identifying the nature of your sleep problems, you must ascertain what is initially triggering them. According to Hill, this can be challenging because so many things affect how well you sleep, including your use of screens, exposure to light, food, stress, and irregular work schedules. People must keep in mind that nothing can be changed, adds Hill.

Determine which potential sleep-preventing factors are having the biggest effect. Are you awake at night due to work stress? Do you occasionally find yourself stuck in a TikTok wormhole till the early hours of the morning? Do the dazzling garden lights of your neighbour enter your window? Snores your partner? You'll be considerably more likely to keep up the change if you concentrate on making one modification at a time, advises Hill. Possible solutions include helping your partner manage their snoring (which might require a trip to the doctor) or switching TikTok for a book before bed to reduce tension. Wu also advises considering sleeping apart from your partner if you have the room if sharing a bed is affecting your ability to sleep. Again, it is not your fault if these alternatives are not practical for you due to a lack of room, money, or time at work. It's not your responsibility to change how poorly our constructed environment affects sleep.

Additionally, you shouldn't spend a lot of money at initially. There are many things that are sold as essentials for bettering sleep, but Hill advises doing fewer of them instead. She advises limiting screen time, caffeine intake (especially in the afternoon and evening), and alcohol use before bed.

Prepare yourself for success throughout the day.

The first step to a restful night's sleep is to be awake. Sunlight, especially in the morning, aids in the circadian rhythm's regulation, allowing people to sleep more soundly and with fewer waking interruptions. Wu advises receiving anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes of sunlight each day to prevent the negative effects of nighttime screen use. The issue is that you need to have a significant contrast between day and night in terms of how much sun exposure or light exposure you get, she explains, adding that if you walk outside during the day and get sunshine, then using a screen in the evening won't affect how well you sleep.

Hill's research shows that people frequently put off going to bed because they don't have enough "me time" or socialising time throughout the day. As a result, they stay up late reading the news, scrolling through social media, or texting pals. So that you don't feel the need to binge at night, Hill advises sprinkling a few brief moments of isolation or social engagement throughout the day — think five minutes of meditation or social media here, a quick 30-minute phone conversation with a buddy there.

Trying to fall asleep again after waking up in the middle of the night can be one of the most irritating aspects of sleep. Sara E. Benjamin, a neurology teacher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep, advises having a strategy in place for such circumstances. You might want to be ready to put on headphones and watch some TV, listen to a podcast, or have a set of breathing exercises you do when you're stressed out. It's okay to use your phone, but plan your usage carefully and set a time limit for how long you'll use it. The risk, according to Benjamin, arises when people go for their phones without a plan and wind themselves scrolling for hours.

Have a schedule

Wu argues that waking up at the same time each day, especially on the weekends, is more crucial than maintaining a regular bedtime. While you can regulate when you wake up during the day with an alarm, you have no such control over when you fall asleep at night. The 24-hour circadian cycle is effectively started by waking up, which occurs more abruptly than going to sleep. Wu claims that when people awaken, they "stand up, become upright, open the blinds, get sunlight in their eyes, start moving, and have breakfast. Everything in our body, including our metabolism, the light-sensing regions of the brain, and our blood pressure, are informed by all of these factors that it is morning. Benjamin advises including enough of bright light in your daily routine, whether it comes from the sun, sunrise lamps, or SAD lights.

While your body should decide when to go to bed on its own, there are things you can do to promote this process. According to Hill, effective nighttime rituals can involve dimming your lights two hours before bed, listening to music, meditating, performing gentle stretches, doing breath work, drinking a hot cup of tea, or taking a shower. Just remember not to add your nightly routine to your list of things to do. "I don't believe it's enjoyable to be 'that lady,'" adds Hill, referring to the online craze in which people have their life organised into a spreadsheet with every 15 minutes tracked. "I don't believe that's something that everyone can genuinely maintain,"

Don't try to fit in last-minute work or watch stressful or action-packed media since your brain needs time to unwind. Those things will only serve to awaken you.

Even your naps ought to follow a schedule. Siestas are essential for new parents or shift workers as they can enhance memory, productivity, and physical health. However, taking a nap for too long too soon after feeling drowsy can make it later to go to bed. Hill claims that taking a 30-minute nap after lunch is useful. After work, resist the impulse to collapse on the couch because doing so would put you too near to nighttime. If you want to nap, make sure it happens at around the same time each time so it becomes a regular part of your schedule.

Be a tech savvy user.

The sleep suggestion of keeping all electronics and smartphones in another room is impossible in today's always-connected environment. Since I'm on call for the sleep lab, I must have my phone close by, explains Benjamin. I am unable to leave my phone in a different room.

This does not give you permission to doomscroll all night. Consider the media you're consuming and the platform you're on. Your brain will be stimulated and keep you awake by TikTok and other social media platforms, bright lights, and anxiety-inducing television shows, movies, or video games. Instead, passive media such as books, music, a slow-paced TV show, and podcasts will aid in your ability to relax, according to Hill. Verify that any screens are in night mode or have the brightness down. According to Hill, "I personally have an iPad next to my bed that is not connected to the internet." "I have a Kindle as well as it, and it has podcasts and meditations on it. As a sleep scientist, I'm breaking all the laws since I have two devices next to my bed, but they both have very, very dim lights and heavy night shifts on the screen.

Turn on Do Not Disturb after you get into bed so you won't be disturbed by texts or push notifications while you're falling asleep and during the night, even if you use your phone for white noise, an alarm, or a sleep app.

Although technology is frequently portrayed as the enemy of good sleep hygiene, there are ways to use technology to your advantage. In the hour before night, Wu explains, "Sometimes we think we need to be a monk, but it doesn't have to be like that."

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