Stress, as we know, is one of the worst enemies of modernity of our time. Sometimes we can figure out why we feel stressed, but most of the time we don't even realize that we are stressed out.
In these cases, stress manifests itself in our eyes as apparently harmless disturbances which in reality turn out to be alarm bells that must warn us.
One of these ailments is insomnia which often derives from a constant state of agitation given by negative thoughts, worries and frustrations that accompany us throughout the day.
The difficulty in falling asleep and not being able to rest well during the night results in a further increase in stress the following morning when we have to face a new day thus entering a vicious circle that is difficult to interrupt.
Falling asleep easily requires a certain physical and mental state of relaxation that can be achieved naturally with small tricks without rushing to the pharmacy immediately to buy this or that product seen on television that can solve all our insomnia problems.
How to make the sleep cycle regular
Let's get the habit to go to sleep at roughly the same time everyday.
It often happens that in the evening instead of going to bed we spend too long on social networks or in front of the TV to finish watching a movie or, worse still, we continue to work late and when we go to bed we can no longer fall asleep.
This way of us doing subtracts the time necessary for the brain and the body to regenerate.
- To define a certainty in your sleep cycle, we roughly calculate how many hours our body needs to stay well and, based on the time when the alarm clock normally rings the next morning, we choose the most suitable time to put ourselves to bed.
Although at the beginning we do not feel the need to go to bed at that time, we continue to stick to the established time perhaps by carrying out activities that promote relaxation such as reading or listening to relaxing music. We will see that our biological clock will gradually adapt to those times, making the sleep cycle regular.
How to organize the bedroom to sleep well
Let's make the bedroom a comfortable and a tidy environment.
- It frequently happens that we get used to the disorder in the house without realizing how much it affects our perception of the surrounding environment.
We arrange clothes and other items out of place and make sure that upon entering the room we have a feeling similar to what we would experience when entering a hotel room.
- We eliminate all electronic devices from the room such as cell phones, chargers attached to sockets, Alexa, tablets, laptops and TVs.
We disconnect from the current all the devices that we cannot physically eliminate (such as wall-mounted TVs) and in general everything that is not really essential.
- Also, be sure to rest at a suitable temperature (between 15°C and 21°C) with blankets and pajamas that do not make us feel neither too hot nor too cold during the night.
The body operates a natural thermoregulation process and at night it tends to lower the body temperature to fall asleep more easily, while during the day it raises it to encourage movement.
- We also exploit the benefits of aromatherapy by placing diffusers of essences such as lavender in the room that promote relaxation through a sensory approach.
Why do you need to air the room before sleeping
Let's ventilate the bedroom well before going to sleep.
- The exchange of air is essential not only because the fresh air helps us breathe better throughout the night but also because, mainly in winter, a lower temperature of the air in the room favors the process of falling asleep.
How to isolate yourself from ambient noise
Let's defend ourselves from noise in the best possible way. Regardless of where the noise comes from, be it from a busy street, from adjacent rooms or from the floor above, there are different solutions to be able to acoustically isolate.
How to isolate the bedroom
- First, you can try to isolate the bedroom by changing the arrangement of the furniture so as to place the bed as far as possible from the windows and walls from which the noise is coming.
Where possible, along these it is advisable to place furniture such as wardrobes or bookcases in order to muffle the sounds. Also, you can consider using carpets on the floor and thick curtains on the windows.
The basic idea is to attenuate the sound vibrations by placing something between us and the noise source that absorbs them.
- If you prefer to opt for more structural solutions, then you can consider installing soundproof windows and acoustic panels on the walls and ceiling which, by absorbing sounds, muffle noises.
For the insulation of floors, an insulating layer (for example of cork) can be inserted under a parquet or tiles made ad hoc for acoustic insulation.
How to isolate ourselves
If we cannot isolate the bedroom effectively, then we can resort to some solutions to isolate ourselves from the surrounding environment.
- As is known, one of the most used systems is that of earplugs which, by reducing external chaos, allow greater concentration in the phase of falling asleep. The caps marked "SNR33" are able to reduce ambient noise up to 33 decibels.
- A second valid solution is to play music or other types of sounds at low volume on which to focus our attention, thus bypassing the annoying noise.
The ideal music to relax and to improve sleep quality is alpha wave (frequency 7-13 Hz), delta wave (frequency 0.1-3.9 Hz) and Zen music.
These types of music are also a useful support to study or work, to do yoga, to meditate and are a very valuable help to make us bear physical pain better.
The brain naturally emits alpha waves both when we focus and whenever we experience moments of relaxation. Delta waves, on the other hand, are emanated during the deep sleep phase. Listening to sound waves at these frequencies stimulates our brain to tune into those same frequencies thus promoting sleep.
As far as alpha wave music is concerned, it must be remembered that it involves "binural" listening, that is, listening to the melody split into two separate audio channels (one for each ear) which is easily obtained using a pair of simple stereo earphones.
- A valid alternative to music is the reproduction, through some apps on smartphones or Alexa devices, of a so-called "white" noise, ie a constant and monotonous sound without periodicity that does not negatively interfere during rest.
Natural sounds like light rain falling, a waterfall, or sea waves crashing on the beach are examples of white noise. In fact, they are characterized by a constant rhythm able to focus our attention making us relax and thus favoring the induction of sleep.
- Often even the sounds coming from the TV are excellent allies to fall asleep, but in this case, unlike white noise, they are harmful to the sleep cycle if perpetuated throughout the night, so it is advisable to use the timer for the self-shutdown of the device.
What to do to relax before going to bed
To prepare our body and mind for the nighttime hours of rest, it is good to switch off with activities that tend to slow down the pace of the day making us relax.
- Reading a good book (strictly in print and not digital version, especially if you usually have difficulty falling asleep) in bed is a cure-all to help you sleep. Proceeding in reading even a few pages gradually will lead to more and more relaxation by slowing down our reading speed and facilitating the onset of sleep.
- Another activity to do before sleeping is to drink herbal teas made with soothing herbs that are excellent for fighting insomnia; in addition to chamomile which is certainly the best known of the plants with a tranquilizing action, there are other herbs such as lemon balm, passion flower, valerian, hawthorn and lavender that have properties that help us relax the nerves and clear the mind clouded by thoughts that keep us alert and active.
- Doing light yoga (with exercises that do not involve any physical effort) or stretching before going to bed helps us a lot in relaxing the muscles and calming the mind from the worries of the day just passed. It is a relaxing practice that involves the whole organism and prepares it for the phase of night rest.
What to do in bed if you can't sleep
When in bed we cannot fall asleep, one of the tricks to promote sleep is to clear the mind of any thoughts that coincide with everyday reality and focus on one specific thing that has, possibly, a constant rhythm whose repetition slowly leads to falling asleep.
As children we were told to "count sheeps", as adults we can transform this concept using some focusing and relaxation techniques.
- Meditation is a technique that approaches insomnia from a mental point of view as it serves to empty the mind by removing what makes us restless by not allowing it to "wander" at will. When the mind wanders, in fact, the problems to be solved or situations that frustrate us continually make an incursion into the mind, preventing it from relaxing.
Meditation focuses our attention on a single activity, effectively excluding the incursion of these disturbing factors. Among the various meditation techniques that facilitate relaxation is the one based on observing the rhythm of our breathing (without forcing it) and as we feel the body relaxing, we gradually slow down this rhythm.
We must be good at keeping focused on the breath because the mind will systematically tend to divert our attention back to the problems and thoughts of everyday reality. If we can keep ourselves focused on the regularity of our breathing we will see that this activity progressively leads to a general relaxation favoring sleep.
Another type of meditation is based on the repetition of phrases or words (mantra) which, synchronizing them with our breath, also leads to a state of total psycho-physical relaxation;
- In addition to meditation, another particularly effective practice for bringing the mind to exclude everyday reality is visualization.
This technique consists in "seeing" with the mind a scene in which we feel we are particularly comfortable, no matter if it is real or invented. This scene can be a place (a beach, a forest, a beautiful area of the city) or a state (being lying on the grass, being on a cloud or being in a relaxing hot tub) and evoking its scents and sounds by adjusting the rhythm of your breath on those feelings of well-being.