I can’t believe it’s already the last week of summer classes! It went by really fast, as I knew it would! I have my two final exams this week, and boy is the work piled up for this week. This week’s material in neuroscience is interesting. It’s all about sleep – and of course, it made me sleepy! Power of suggestion I suppose 🙂 It was probably the most interesting unit in the course. Sleep is definitely a lot more complicated than I realized!
It really made me think about my own sleep, though. Mine is definitely out of whack, has been for years. My professor talked about different types of treatments for different sleep disorders, such as insomnia, as well as how to make sure to get a good night’s sleep, which he called sleep hygiene. I thought it was all really interesting. My sleep hygiene isn’t as good as it should be, but I doubt anyone’s is perfect.
For instance, it’s best to listen to one’s own body, meaning to go to sleep when one feels tired rather than pushing oneself to stay up til the early hours of the morning. Now, we’ve all stayed up late cramming and studying, or even just for fun. I used to pull all-nighters for the fun of it, especially at sleepovers when I was younger. But it’s not a good thing to do because it throws the body’s clock (or circadian rhythm) out of balance.
Another thing one shouldn’t do is use the bed for anything besides sleeping and sex. I use my bed for everything – it’s my desk, my dinner table (my actual table has so much stuff on it that I don’t even eat there), my lounging place, and so on. I’ve learned to get out more and be more active, which is part of the reason why I started doing yoga.
I used to have the hardest time figuring out why I was so tired all the time. While I did have other physiological reasons, probably the biggest reason was that I was in bed all the time. I used my bed for almost all activities. Even at friends’ houses when I was younger, I’d always just lounge there on the bed, never in the chairs or on the floor. As a result, my mind naturally started associating the bed with wakeful activities, leading to me having a hard time getting to sleep.
So the takeaway: only use your bed for sleeping and intimate activities – that is if you want to get to sleep with little difficulty!
Another tip my professor gave was to avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bed – I’d say once it’s late afternoon, avoid those things. I love caffeine, I live off of caffeine, and I probably would go bonkers without it. It’s pretty common knowledge that caffeine wakes people up, but it also gives them jitters and tremors and can cause their hearts to pound or race, depending on how much they consume. I’ve cut down on caffeine, and I’ve felt better overall.
One tip my professor gave that I actually follow, which my body has loved me for, is to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday – even on the weekends. I tend to go to bed around midnight because I just personally don’t feel the need to stay up until the next day – though I usually don’t actually fall asleep until around 1-2am, it takes me a while (but I’ll talk about that in a bit). I aim to get up between 8 and 9 every morning. Weekend or weekday. I hate sleeping until or after 10. I just feel lazy, personally, and I tend to feel like my day is halfway over. That may sound weird to some of you, but that’s just me. So yes, my body loves me for it. I have felt better as a result of doing this. (Now I just have to work on everything else!)
My professor also talked about not exercising once it’s evening, which is why I do my yoga usually between 3 and 4 – but sometimes we just can’t help but fit in exercise a bit later! It all depends on our own personal daily schedules, but it’s still best to try to work it in by the afternoon. Some like to do it in the morning to wake up easier, which I’ve done, and it works; but I’m not a morning person, so I wait until the afternoon, personally.
Napping is both good and bad. It shouldn’t be done in the evening and shouldn’t be more than a half hour on average. I never nap unless I’m sick, because it makes it harder to sleep at night. And for some reason, napping during the day makes me feel sick. I’ve found that if I get less than 8 hours, I wake up feeling groggy and sick, so napping definitely makes me that way; so I just avoid it altogether unless it’s really necessary or I’m sick.
Now, I stated earlier that it takes me a while to get to sleep. I found the content on insomnia interesting in this unit. I’m not sure if I fit it or not, but I know that I can’t get to sleep without something, unless I’m exhausted – and even then, it can be hard sometimes. I need 2 things to get to sleep: Zzzquil and a movie. I used melatonin for years, but I found out that it’s meant for short-term use, not long-term; so it quit working completely. Zzzquil usually knocks me out, which I’m so thankful for; otherwise, I wouldn’t get to sleep until probably 3 or 4am. I also need a movie playing (on my laptop, not my tv, that way it’s dark enough for me to sleep). I need it to keep my mind from wondering. I just lie there listening to it until I fall asleep. I know many people who can’t get to sleep with the tv on or a movie on, but it works for me. In fact, I can’t sleep without it.
So yes, I found this unit very interesting. I learned a lot, and a lot more than what I just talked about! And it made me think about my own sleeping habits. I would go on, but I don’t want to make this post too long. Anyway, I need to start the next unit now, so I’ll post later! 🙂