In a perfect world, everybody would get 8 blissful hours of restful sleep a night. But as people with sleep disorders know all-too-well, those nighttime hours can be filled with tossing, turning and other issues that can prevent us from waking up refreshed and ready to go. According to the Centers for Disease Control, somewhere between 50 and 70 million adults in the United States have some sort of sleep disorder. These can range from snoring and insomnia to sleep deprivation and other issues. Here are just a few ways to help correct your sleeping disorder:
Sleep Cycles 101
As we sleep, we are doing much more than lying in bed having the occasional dream. Our brains actually go through four stages of sleep during the night, and a full cycle takes about 100 minutes, notes World of Lucid Dreaming.
- The first stage, called NREM Stage 1, is a light sleep that can cause us to experience odd, jerky motions.
- NREM Stage 2 features a loss of muscle tone, so we are unable to act out the sometimes wacky stuff we are experiencing in our dreams.
- In NREM Stage 3, most outside noises and stimuli will not cause us to easily wake up, and dreams do not occur during this time.
- The final stage, REM, is when dreams take place.
People who sleep an average of 8 hours a night typically go through five sleep cycles, but sleep disorders like insomnia can cause these cycles to be disturbed.
Reasons for Sleep Disorders
Sleep problems are caused by a variety of reasons, states WebMD. In the case of acute or short-term insomnia, stress can be the culprit as can being under the weather or environmental factors. Sleep deprivation, as its name implies, is caused by not getting enough sleep, and this can be due to issues like insomnia or staying up late to finish a project.
In order to try to get the best night’s sleep possible, it’s important to find ways to overcome sleep issues and practice good pre-sleeping habits. In the case of insomnia, the following tips and ideas can help:
- Reduce stress and anxiety: Since feeling stressed about retirement, work, money, relationships and a myriad of other things can interfere with getting to sleep, Psychology Today notes that it is important to take steps to reduce these negative feelings. For example, use breathing and muscle relaxation exercises to help clear your mind, to have your body relax and to get your body ready for sleep. Also, try writing down whatever is bothering you, and set aside a specific time of the day for worrying. If you find yourself fretting over having enough savings for your retirement at 2 a.m., remind yourself that you can worry about it at 10 the next morning, and then practice deep breathing until you fall back asleep.
- Make your bedroom snooze-worthy: In order to have a fighting chance to get to sleep, you have to make your room as conducive to slumber as possible. According to the Mayo Clinic, for most people this will mean a room that is quiet, dark and on the cool side. If your spouse is struggling with a sleep issue like snoring, wear earplugs and use a fan for additional white noise. If the morning sun starts to peek through the windows super early or you have a street light near your bedroom window, purchase window treatments that will keep the room as dark as possible.
Although these suggestions may not completely cure your insomnia, they are good health and sleep habits to implement into your lifestyle. And hopefully, they will lead to some restful sleep.
This article is from Alison Stanton, a freelance writer for the past 14 years. Based in the Phoenix, Arizona area, Alison enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics, but especially loves meeting interesting people and telling their stories.