Sleep Disorder Patterns and Cycles
A good night’s sleep is one of the best ways to have more energy during the day, to be more productive at work, have a healthy immune system, and enjoying better health in general. However, statistics show that fewer and fewer people are getting enough rest at night, due to various sleep disorders.
Why You Need a Good Sleep Pattern
You shouldn’t give in to sleep deprivation and succumb to daily fatigue. A good sleep pattern is an essential biological need, like eating and breathing. It has a direct impact on your health and, of course, your quality of life. There are things you could do to get you the rest you need. These healthy sleeping habits are being referred to by researchers as ‘sleep patterns and cycles’, enjoy longer hours of deeper, healthier slumber and relief from any sleep disorders
Set Your Internal Clock to Improve Sleep Cycles
Try to find a certain bedtime that best fits your routine. Then try sticking to it every night, even on holidays and weekends. Do the same thing for when you wake up. Soon, you’ll start seeing your body adapt to its own sleep-wake cycle, which reinforces the whole concept of getting better relief from any sleep problems you may have.
But there’s a catch: if you’re still struggling to fall asleep even after 20 minutes, then stop agonizing over it because that will only lead to frustration and an even longer, sleepless nights. If – and when – this happens, get out of bed and try to find something relaxing to do. This is mainly up to you and your personal preference, but it could be anything from reading to listening to some light music. Your body will tell you when it’s ready to get back to bed.
One way to keep your sleep-wake cycle in check is to limit any daytime naps
• Limit naps to 10 to 30 minutes at most, and try to take them in the early to mid-afternoon so that your body has ample time to recover from the nap when it’s time to go to sleep at night.
• If you should feel tired later in the day and feel the urge to nap, try going for a short walk instead, or drinking a glass of ice water to overcome that sluggish feeling, or else than nap may end up having problems with your night-time sleep pattern.
Set Up Rituals to Prevent Sleep Disorder Problems
Another way to get your internal clock set is do the same things each night in ‘wind down’ routine.
• Take a bath, read a few pages of a book, turn on your aromatherapy diffuser, or any other activity that suits you. Make this a habit that you follow every night as it will set your mind to know it’s sleep time
• Dim the lights and turn down all sounds that may be coming from your TV, stereo or phone.
• Try to avoid physically or psychologically stressful activities, like work or dealing with problems before bedtime. These types of activities trigger the body to secrete the hormone cortisol, which is associated with stress and anxiety, and has a negative effect on the quality of your sleep disorder.
• Manage stress by organizing a set of priorities and, possibly, delegating tasks at work so you don’t have too many problems going on.
• A great way to empty your mind from all the worry and the stress is to write down your thoughts, then leave them for the next day. You’ll feel calmer after putting down your problems on paper, and more restful.
Make Sleep Time Conducive to a Good Sleep Pattern
Make sure the environment in your bedroom is suitable for a good night’s sleep.
• This applies to everything from your pillow, to the mattress, to your curtains. Choose a bedding that is the most comfortable to you, even if you share your bed or have children or pets. Remember to get new pillows every 1 – 2 years and change your mattress every 10 years.
• Another important step to getting better respite from a sleep disorder is to keep your room dark by using an eye mask or heavy curtains. Avoiding bright lights at night will help keep levels of melatonin elevated. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for giving you that drowsy, sleepy feeling. This naturally occurring hormone increases when it’s dark, your brain’s way of telling you that the day is done and it is time to end it by going to bed. Melatonin also helps regulate your circadian rhythm (your sleep – wake cycle).
• Also, keep the room well ventilated and cool by adjusting the temperature between 60F and 67F.
• Use earplugs or “white noise” appliances to keep outside problem noises at a minimum.
• A great tip to try is painting your room a relaxing shade in a matte finish, instead of a high-gloss one. Choose the shade that has the best calming effect on you, like Mediterranean-blue or a warm yellow.
Eat Right to Sleep Right
Eating and drinking less than an hour before going to bed can wreak havoc on the quality of your sleep pattern, especially if you’re eating a big or spicy meal; if you get hungry late at night, have a light snack that will fill you up but won’t disrupt your sleep.
• Drinking too much is also something you should avoid several hours before bedtime. It will save you the hassle of late night visits to the bathroom that could disrupt your sleep cycle.
• Also, try to stay away from anything containing nicotine and caffeine for roughly 4 - 6 hours before going to bed. They’re known to have a stimulating effect on the body, which takes hours to wear off, and which, ultimately, affect your sleep. Caffeine can be found in several pain relievers, cola, chocolate, tea, and coffee.
• Alcohol is also a major disruptor of sleep patterns. Even though it might make you feel drowsy at first, it will affect your sleep disorder later on during the night.
The Right Exercises for the Right Sleep Cycle
Exercising triggers the body to secrete the stress hormone cortisol, which turns on the “alertness” mechanism in your brain. This is something you definitely don’t want before going to bed. In fact, you want the opposite effect.
• This is why you should try to do your workouts at least 3 to 4 hours before bedtime to avoid any problems, even better work out earlier in the day before work or during the mid-afternoon
It’s important to bear in mind that including regular physical activities in your daily routine can promote better sleeping patterns, as well as help you enjoy deeper sleep because it relieves both physical and mental tension disorders. Even going for a walk will help improve the quality of your sleep cycle. Just remember, timing is everything.
• The key is to avoid vigorous exercise too close to sleep time.
Use Calming Exercise Before Bed
If you do want to do some sort of physical activity right before going to bed.
• Do gentle mind-body exercises like yoga that calm and soothe, many yoga poses are geared just for those purposes or other calming activities, like Tai Chi for a relaxing end to your day
When to See Your Doctor
If you’ve been having problems sleeping for more than a couple of months, then it’s time to seek professional help. Sleep disorders are very common, and when severe can really interfere with your general health and quality of life. Your doctor can help you by recommending additional changes to your lifestyle, or certain medications that can help you get the sleep pattern you need.
You could be suffering from something you don’t even know you have, like acid reflux or stress-related insomnia. However, knowing the hidden reason behind your lack of sleep could be the end of what’s keeping you up at night, and the beginning of better sleep cycle and a healthier lifestyle.
How Aromatherapy Helps You to Sleep
In real terms there has been very little study done into the effects of aromatherapy, though it has been used for thousands of years. We can trace its history back to a large number of ancient civilizations, including India, Egypt, Greece, as well as the Romans and the Chinese.
Since distillation was invented in the 11th century, distilled essential oils have been used as a form of medicine to aid sleep disorders.
There are a number of applications when it comes to aromatherapy: it can be used topically in massages, skin care, baths, and compresses; some can be inhaled directly as a decongestant, and others can be used for aerial diffusion, to enhance the environment. Aromatherapy stimulates the smell receptors located in your nose and sends messages to a part of your brain that controls emotions- the limbic system, via the nervous system.
Anxiety Relief Aids Sleep Disorders
The Mayo Clinic has reviewed the studies that have been completed, though, and they have found there may indeed be health benefits. Including, but not limited to, anxiety and depression relief and for people with chronic health problems an improved quality of life and improved quality of sleep patterns in people with sleep disorders. There have been studies on just lavender oil, which have shown that it can reduce the pain of a needle prick for people that were receiving dialysis, in addition to improving sleep cycles for hospitalized patients.
Michael Breus, PHD is a sleep disorder specialist and explains to WebMD how some scents create a mood of relaxation more than others do, which can lead to easier and enhanced sleep patterns.
Perhaps the most well-known essential oil for improved sleep, and relaxation, is lavender. As discussed in this study by the University of Maryland it was a French chemist that applied lavender to treat a burn he had received after a minor lab explosion. This led to further research and by World War 1, essential oils were being used to treat soldiers. It was that French chemist, Rene-Maurice Gattefosse that founded the science of aromatherapy.
Improve Sleep Patterns with These Essential Oils
Lavender is widely known for its use in reducing anxiety, and calming, which is excellent for lulling a person to sleep. Mandarin has wonderful calming effects and is ideal for a blend with lavender.
Another essential oil that can serve as a sleep cycle improver is patchouli, it relieves symptoms of depression, and aids the anti-inflammatory and the nervous system, which can calm your mind. Clary Sage can relieve menstrual cramps, while also serving as a relaxant aid that relieves anxiety and stress problems.
While there are plenty of “aromatherapy” products on the market, ranging from candles to lotions, the majority of them do not actually contain true essential oils. They instead rely on a fragrance that doesn’t offer the same benefits as the genuine article.
Benefits of Using Diffusers
Essential oils should never be applied directly to the skin without being diluted with a carrier oil. This can lead to skin irritations, so perhaps the most effective method would be to use your preferred oil in a diffuser to ensure you receive the full effects of the sleep benefits.
There are a number of electric diffusers, which you can set to a particular level, as well as on a timer. It’s a safer option than burning oil and allows you to relax in bed and take in the scents as you sleep.
Some essential oils can counteract particular medications, so if you are on any medications or have any chronic medical disorders it is best to check whether a specific oil is appropriate for you.