Sleep is necessary for the immune system to function properly. But, high-tech gadgets in modern life can make the bedroom a repository for lights on televisions, laptops, smartphones, and even alarm clocks that prevent darkness from lulling us to sleep. Insomnia is a major problem for adults of toddlers, and young professionals typically do not obtain the recommended eight hours of nightly sleep. The following are five tricks to get a better night’s sleep:
Do Not Eat Before Going to Bed
Eating a heavy meal within two hours of going to bed is a bad idea (according to the National Institutes of Health’s Medline). This is primarily because food is digested, and this requires the body to perform physiological activity that involves an active (as opposed to resting) brain. Additionally, food is converted to glucose—which can raise the blood sugar level and increase energy. Therefore, it is best to refrain from eating before going to bed, in order to decrease biochemical processes that can prevent falling asleep.
Darken the Bedroom as Much as Possible
The body’s biological clock is attuned to light as a signal to awaken. This is what makes it so difficult for some night-shift workers to get uninterrupted sleep. In particular, periods of REM sleep in night-shift workers may become shortened (according to a report of the American College of Emergency Physicians). Closing blinds, covering gadgets with blinking lights, and darkening the room as much as possible can aid in falling—and remaining—asleep.
Keep to a Routine Bedtime
Going to sleep at the same time each night (or day) can help in combatting difficulty in falling asleep. It aids in training the brain to switch to a restful state—especially for people who suffer from insomnia. While sleep is usually categorized by scientists as REM and non-REM, the first stage (out of four separate stages) is falling asleep. Advancement to REM is not possible without the first, non-REM stage of sleep (and a lack of REM can lead to memory difficulties).
Do Not Watch a Thriller on TV Before Bedtime
Many people watch television or play video games in the evening. However, action-filled, “high-drama” enactments on TV, via computer, or in video games (particularly life-threatening enactments) can increase heart rate. The increased heart rate promotes signals to the brain to increase release of the adrenalin hormone. In turn, the released adrenalin promotes alertness—which “short-circuits” the brain’s efforts to calm signal transmissions in alliance with a state of restfulness. Therefore, it is preferable to watch something boring or calming on TV before bedtime.
Turn Off Cell Phones and Tablets Before Bedtime
The current workplace environment has promoted an invasion of verbal contact into workers’ night-time hours. Smartphones have made employees easier to contact in their “off-hours”. The result is that employees feel pressured to answer phone calls and email from colleagues at any time of day or night. This is counter-productive in that it is causing employees to experience greater fatigue at work due to disrupted sleep—and lowering their overall health status. The best way to combat the problem is to turn off cell phones and laptops before bed. Sleep is more important to being productive at work than constant availability.