It doesn’t matter exactly what reasons led to the fact that you cannot fall asleep and wake up at the desired time — a change of time zone or insomnia. Only one thing is important: it is quite possible to normalize the sleep mode.
Here are some research-backed recommendations provided by experts from the reputable medical resource WebMD.
1. Control the light
Obvious fact: we fall asleep when it’s dark, and wake up when it gets light. The hormones melatonin and cortisol are responsible for this.
The first is produced in the thyroid gland only in dark conditions (the part of the brain that is responsible for the biological clock that is responsible for the thyroid gland is the suprachiasmal nucleus in the hypothalamus). Melatonin lowers body temperature, blood pressure, and blood glucose. Together, these processes make our body go into hibernation. When it brightens again, melatonin levels drop and drowsiness recedes.
The amount of cortisol, in contrast, is reduced in the dark and increased levels of melatonin. Less cortisol – less stress – deeper relaxation and easier sleep.
If with darkness of difficulty, melatonin is not produced in the right amount. And cortisol is growing.
The conclusion is simple. Want to fall asleep at the desired time – make the brain dark. Hang blackout curtains on windows, turn off the whole world and don’t sit on social networks before going to bed. The last point is especially important.
Electronic devices are the source of the so-called blue light , which especially intensively reduces the level of melatonin. And at the same time increases the concentration. We should relax and sleep, but if you have seen enough of the blue screen, the body will resist. In general, turn off the TV and computer, put off your mobile phone and tablet at least an hour before you are going to bed.
2. Prohibit your daytime sleep
If you need to restore the mode, refuse the siesta. Daytime sleep is highly likely to make it harder to move to nighttime.
An important point: if you feel so tired that in the middle of the day you literally tumble down, you can still take a nap. But try to devote no more than 20 minutes to this. And preferably until 15:00.
3. Do not just lie in bed
If you can’t fall asleep for 20 minutes or longer, get up and do something relaxing (take a deep breath , meditate, turn on the dim light and read a book), but don’t look at the ceiling.
By staying in bed, you teach your brain that you can lie in the dark and not sleep. This risks becoming a bad habit.
4. Wake up at the same time every day
To convince the body to fall asleep at the right time is far from always obtained. But to plan the time of awakening is quite possible.
Waking up at the same time every day, you set the body rhythm and thus set your biological clock to function according to a certain schedule.
5. Observe sleep hygiene
Here are a few rules to help you fall asleep at your desired time:
- Provide silence. Close windows, doors, try to prevent extraneous sounds from entering your bedroom. If it does not work, use a white noise generator .
- Sleep in a cool room. Perfect temperature – 15–19 ° C.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks, especially in the afternoon. These include not only coffee and tea, but also all kinds of energy and often even ordinary soda.
- Make sure your bed is comfortable. A stray too soft (or, on the contrary, very hard) mattress and lumpy pillows will cause you to unconsciously spin in bed in search of a more comfortable posture. And these movements reduce the quality of sleep.
- Be sure to exercise during the day. Regular exercise will increase your chances of a healthy vacation.
6. Do not eat before bedtime
The biological clock also responds to diet. We eat during the day, do not eat at night. Therefore, if you eat food (or your digestive tract is busy digesting eaten), the body believes that another day. So, it’s too early to fall asleep.
Try to eat no later than 2-3 hours before your expected bedtime.
An additional unpleasant effect: knowing that they are fed in the evenings, the body will try and stay awake at that time tomorrow (the day after tomorrow and so on). Therefore, it would be nice to make early dinners regular so that the body gets used to it: there is nothing to wait for food late, it is better to sleep.
7. Try to starve
Scientists at Harvard found that in animals, circadian rhythms (the so-called internal biological rhythms of the body) shift depending on the availability of food. Based on this, researchers suggest that 12–16-hour fasting can help with insomnia due to jet lag – change of time zones.
To restore sleep mode, including without jetlag, try a 16-hour post. Have dinner early for a few days (e.g. around 4 p.m.) and then avoid eating before breakfast (around 8 a.m. the next morning). When the mode is normal, go to the 12-hour interval between dinner and breakfast. This is beneficial not only for sleep, but also for overall health.
8. Go hiking
With backpacks and tents. At least three days, but preferably a week – to increase the effect.
The natural change of day and night helps restore the circadian rhythms of the body.
So, a study published in the jungle Current Biology, provides the results of testing this theory.
Eight participants in the experiment went on a hike, where they spent a week without artificial lighting, phones and laptops. During this period, all volunteers had their biological clock rearranged, synchronized with solar time: people began to easily wake up at dawn and fall asleep at nightfall. Most clearly, this effect manifested itself in those who, before the start of the experiment, positioned themselves as an owl.
9. Try lack of sleep
Another effective, albeit rather controversial, way to restore sleep is to stay awake for exactly one day. When finally the long-awaited evening comes, you will probably fall asleep as soon as your head touches the pillows.
This method is, of course, cool. But the researchers managed to prove the connection of daily lack of sleep with the activation of a certain type of brain cells that produce adenosine protein. It is extremely important for the regulation of sleep: a sufficient amount of adenosine helps to normalize the sleep-wake cycle.
- Since the method is severe enough, you can resort to it only after consulting with a doctor – the same therapist.
- In the period of lack of sleep, refuse to drive and perform other tasks that require attention and concentration.
10. Talk with the therapist.
From time to time, having trouble sleeping is normal. In most cases, it is enough to change the lifestyle in accordance with the list above – and you will again get enough sleep.
However, if, despite all your efforts, insomnia and other inconveniences persist, it is worth contacting a therapist. You may have an undiagnosed sleep disorder . Such conditions require treatment – sometimes even medication.