It's 8 PM. I just returned home from work and am thoroughly exhausted. A nice and cosy bed seems about the best idea right now, but there is so much still left to do. And I also need to binge-watch a few episodes of the fifth season of Money Heist. I can’t wait till the weekend, I'll munch on some snacks alongside and then have dinner.
It's 10 PM, already? I'll just quickly have dinner and then I'll sleep… No wait, I should exercise and burn those extra calories I consumed while watching the series. I think I'll go for a walk and then treat myself to a warm shower before bed.
It's 11 PM, I think I should go to… Tring… Tring…it's my friend's call, if I pick it up I'm sure I won’t keep it down for an hour at least! Fine, let me take this call, then I'll hit the sack.
It's 1:25 AM! Oh my God (while yawning) “We spoke for more than two hours…I have a busy day tomorrow…let's catch up some other time!” Now no one can come between me and…Oh No! The presentation is due tomorrow…There goes my good night’s sleep…
Are you one of those people who, even though, would like to give sleep your complete attention, are just not able to give it its fair share of your day? Or do you think sleep is overrated and with just three hours of sleep you can continue and manage your entire day? The more apt question is for how long? For how long can you go on like this and not feel the effects of sleep deprivation?. Sometimes going without sleep can become a vicious pattern you can’t get out of, but this can be seriously detrimental to your health.
Why do you overwork yourself? To gain success and be able to afford good healthcare? Are you able to succeed while running on just a handful of hours of sleep? Or are you constantly worried about something and unable to rest? Or are you feeling that you have to handle too much and sleeping would waste your time? Maybe sleep is the missing puzzle to your roadmap to success and it’s time to understand it better.
What happens when we sleep?
Have you ever wondered what sleep is? Why do we sleep? What happens when we sleep?
Sleep is the state that occurs in the body when the conscious mind hands the keys to the subconscious mind and lays down to rest! It is the period when your conscious mind wants to stop thinking or carrying out any mental activity. This enables your body and mind to recuperate and rejuvenate so that you wake up fresh and ready to take on yet another day. And while we sleep, our body and the organs are busy working. The brain is getting rid of accumulated waste thoughts, the nerve cells are reorganizing, the cells are repairing, hormones and proteins are releasing. This restoration is critical for physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Is Your Insomnia Triggering Your Anger?
Research has shown that lack of sleep harms your mood. It can easily make you agitated, anxious, and sometimes even moody. The root cause of this unnecessary anger is disturbed bodily functions. When you are sleep deprived a lot of things can go wrong in your body, like:
Your central nervous system can get disturbed as you have not slept sufficient hours to relax it and keep it functioning normally. This can cause spells of dizziness, loss of focus while working, anxiety and undue stress, paranoia, and in extreme situations hallucinations.
The respiratory system also bears the brunt of sleep deprivation. There is an inversely proportional relationship between sleep and respiratory infections like flu, cold, and disorders like “Obstructive Sleep apnea.”
Lack of sleep affects digestion and can make you obese and overweight. Since, you have not rested well you don’t have the energy for exercising too, thus affecting your health. Leptin, the hormone which makes you feel full, is reduced in amount. Ghrelin, the hormone which makes you feel like eating excessively increases when you sleep fewer hours.
Your immune system becomes an easy target as the number of cytokines, i.e., protein cells that help in controlling infection and inflammation in the body, and antibodies that are generally produced in the body during sleep, is significantly reduced. This can lead to heart problems and in some cases diabetes.
Believe it or not even your cardiovascular and endocrine systems do not function properly if you haven’t slept well.
When so much has gone wrong within a span of one night, it is natural to wake up in a sour mood. To prevent this from happening, it is really important to understand why you are not able to sleep.
Reasons for Sleep Deprivation
Do you lie down each to grab the 7 to 8 hours of sleep you think you have earned and deserved after a full day of work? Do you feel tired and drowsy, but the moment your head meets your pillow, sleep leaps out of the window? Then your subconsciousness slyly whispers to your conscious mind to think about the undigested and unprocessed thoughts you have been too scared to acknowledge. You check the wall clock, (hopefully not your mobile!), for time and decide a few minutes of thinking won’t hurt and suddenly it is 5 in the morning. You are dead tired but now you can’t go to sleep even if you wanted to because you have to wake up in a few hours anyway and half-heartedly you start to go about your day. Where did those golden hours of sleep go? Why were you not able to sleep? Why is this happening to you? Well, this can happen due to several reasons.
Overthinking: when you obsess over a feeling so much that thinking about it becomes strenuous yet you still ponder over it again and again, especially before going to bed; the mind is hardly able to come to rest. Even when you try to not think about it the thoughts keep coming. This makes it very difficult to fall asleep.
Worry: it is known to cause temporary insomnia and if not treated or addressed, it can cause insomnia and can get chronic.
Loneliness: sometimes it is hard to go to bed all alone. You crave for someone to be beside you because the world is too big for just one person and success is not a success if you don’t have anyone to share it with. All-day people rarely ponder over the fact that they don’t have many people in their life, but at night it all comes crashing down, and sleeping becomes scary.
Excess Fitness Regimes: when you exercise too much before going to bed the body experiences an adrenaline rush and it takes a lot of time to come down from it. Also, when the body is severely exhausted it is not easy to sleep.
Too much caffeine in the body: caffeine tends to make us vigilant and alert all the time. It delays the body clock by preventing the buildup of adenosine, which is the chemical responsible for causing sleep.
Excessive use of gadgets: using smartphones and other similar gadgets is not only harmful because of the radiation they emit, but also delays the sleep cycle as the blue light they emit prevents the production of melatonin. These gadgets also constantly stimulate the brain and make it difficult for the flow of thought to stop.
5 Ways to Sleep Better
Everyone faces challenges daily, for some facing each day is a struggle. This can be due to several reasons including marital discord, unhealthy work environment, ill-health, a broken relationship with family, lack of genuine friends, examination or work stress, peer pressure, or even bullying. These struggles already take so much from us and to keep fighting the fight you need to be your best self, and this is only possible when you have had a good night’s sleep.
Some commonly known techniques that work
The easy way out is to pop a pill. But that is not curing the problem, just suppressing the symptoms. We must find a way to sleep well naturally. Every human being would have a unique reason for not being able to sleep, so the important part is to check in with your own body and mind and see what your reason is. Accordingly, you can find which one of these you need to do.
Reducing Screen Time: This is true for most of us! I am often guilty of it too. But if you can stop using any light-emitting device (mobiles, laptops, TVs, etc. ) at least 1 hour before going to bed, you will sleep much faster and better! Yes, no more Netflix or Instagram bedtime. Read a book or write something to yourself in a good old-fashioned diary! Or listen to some music, preferably instrumental, rather than viewing a screen.
Incorporating some Relaxing Night Time Routines: For some people, their mind needs to know that it’s approaching bedtime. So see if a nightly routine helps you. Maybe sleep around the same time every day, sip warm milk, have a warm bath (preferably with some salt thrown in for the tiredness to release!) or meditate.
Banishing Caffeine from your Diet after 5: after 5 PM caffeine intake should be stopped. It takes a lot of time for caffeine to exit our body hence if we stop taking caffeinated drinks after 5 Pm the body will be able to come out of its influence by bedtime.
Some other techniques that can help:
Journaling: The other day, I found myself tossing and turning for a long time and I wondered what it could be. Then I felt it was related to the conversation I had with a client half an hour ago and that was probably keeping my conscious mind awake. I whipped out a diary (keeping one close at night is a great idea!) and just spent 10-15 minutes pouring out my thoughts. This helped me empty my mind and the conscious mind felt its work for the day is over and it could hand over the key to the subconscious more easily! So the next time your mind is too active, just spend 15 minutes before going to bed to write down your thoughts on paper. This can help you fall asleep faster.
Listening to Binaural Music: When nothing else works, I love this one. I drift off to sleep with most kinds of meditative music, but binaural beats induce very relaxing deep sleep. Youtube has a lot of binaural music that is said to create the same state of mind that meditation does. A calming and relaxing effect that is healing in nature. Binaural music is designed to help us when we listen to two slightly distinct beats at the same time. Our brain creates an illusion called a binaural beat. Listening to these beats before we sleep is known to reduce anxiety and induce relaxation. The commonly used frequencies are delta 3Hz or theta 4-8 Hz. Try it today by clicking here.
Therapy: Sometimes the reason for our poor sleep could be more deep-rooted and we could be constantly worried or anxious. Then we can seek help and allow someone to guide us into our subconscious and unearth the possible reasons that are worrying us. Once I had a client who was unable to sleep well at night and on regressing to solve this, we saw so many memories that were unknowingly haunting her. Ranging from a loved one’s death to business losses to a failed relationship and even a shaming in school. All of it was healed in the session and then, with a fresh perspective adopted, she could relax and sleep better.
So before popping that pill to get some shut-eye, see if any of these natural ways work for you. Work hard at getting sleep back! Rather than simply working hard and not sleeping well.
Sleep has just one motive, and that is to heal you. So, take the backseat for a few hours each day and let sleep ride shotgun on the journey of life.