Perhaps one of the most depressing banes of human existence is jolting awake from a deep sleep, only to realize you have mere minutes left before your alarm clock goes off. Or perhaps you wake minutes after having fallen asleep, which is equally annoying. How dare your body rob you of those precious moments of sleep?
So, why do we wake up at the random times we do during the night? It just doesn’t seem fair. Well, Tonic is giving us some scientific answers.
A study by Tel Aviv University’s School of Psychological Science was conducted in order to figure out the “cognitive and emotional consequences” these frequent wakings had on a young adult. The consequences were alarming. Night-wakings that occur night after night can negatively affect metabolism, libido, and immune systems in young adults. So what can one do to sleep peacefully through the night?
1Don’t go to bed after having consumed alcohol.
According to Tonic, an Australian study found that alcohol can make you fall asleep quicker than average, but will cause you to wake up more often than if you were sober.
In a follow-up study, researchers found that when you fall asleep with alcohol in your system, “your brain produces more delta wave patterns on an electroencephalogram (EEG)—patterns that typically show up during the most restful phase of sleep.” But don’t be fooled because, “an alcohol-saturated brain also pushes out alpha patterns, which reflects a brain that is awake and passive, like when you close your eyes and meditate.” Your brain is kind of battling with itself all night, causing you to feel utterly restless.
2 Get some exercise during the day.
Exercise seems like it’s the answer for everything – getting fit, feeling happy, sleeping better, etc. But honestly, exercise could be the key to keeping your brain nice and rested during the night. Tonic says that in an Appalachian State University study, researchers found that participants who strength trained for 30 minutes during the day, slept sounder at night than they did on the days where they did not strength train.
“What’s more, people who exercised around 7 p.m. slept the most soundly compared to hitting the gym at either 7 a.m. or 1 p.m.,” Tonic explains. Exercising not only makes you fatigued, but also sends your body into “cool down mode,” aka, temperature downregulation. The same phenomenon happens when we fall asleep at night, so exercising could boost you into sleepy-time.
3 Turn down the heat in your bedroom.
If your room is too hot, your body struggles to cool down. As we learned in the last tip, your body cooling down helps you fall into deep sleep.
If you can avoid sleeping in a hot and humid climate, that would be beneficial. According to a Japanese sleep study review Tonic got their hands on, heat and humidity does not allow for your body to cool off via sweat evaporation, therefore you remain hot and wide awake.
4Try sleeping with a pink/white noise machine.
Tonic reports that sounds as quiet as 33 decibels can keep your brain alert and working while you’re trying to reach your deep sleep stage. It’s hard to mask all the noises that are happening around you, but if you’re willing to introduce something new to your sleeping habits, Tonic suggests trying a pink noise machine.
Chinese researchers tested the pink noise machine on 40 participants and “they found it increased their stable sleep time compared to no noise at all,” Tonic writes. You can also find pink noise loops on YouTube, or make your own with a small fan or anything that makes a soothing constant sound.
5Put the dang phone down! Put it down!
We don’t mean to sound like your mother, but the little bright rectangle is messing up our sleep cycles! Tonic reports that our brain confuses the light coming from electronics for sunlight, and therefore suppresses the production of melatonin, which we need to get some good shut-eye.
A Harvard study showed that participants who read from an e-reader took 10 minutes longer to fall asleep and felt groggier in the morning, compared to participants who read from an actual book. “In one study,” Tonic reports, “people ages 19 to 32 who spent more than two hours a day on social media were nearly twice as likely to report sleep disturbances as people who were on Facebook and Twitter less for than 30 minutes.” We guess it’s time to star that New Year’s “cut back on social media” resolution…
These may not be the most fun suggestions to get a better night’s sleep. But restful sleep is a vital aspect of staying mentally and physically healthy, so sometimes one has to sacrifice fun for health! Thanks to Tonic for sharing this science with us. After all this sleep talk, we’re ready to hit the hay!