By Sarah, age 18, Pennsylvania
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
Sleep. We all need it, but why does it come easier to some than others? I fall under the "difficult to fall asleep" category. Not that I don't want to sleep. I just find myself far from tired at the usual 11 o'clock. I find myself more intrigued by late night movies, TV shows, and web surfing.
Too bad for people like me because we're destroying our mental and physical health. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted an experiment on rats, which normally live from two to three years, but when deprived of sleep only lived about five weeks. As for experiments with humans, severely sleep deprived people started hallucinating and developing serious mental issues. Sleep deprived people cannot concentrate and have problems remembering things. Also, their immune system partly shuts down and waste products can build up inside.
Losing sleep is a dangerous thing! But all this can be avoided by changing some of your daytime habits. During the day you can add exercise programs to your routines. A 30 minute session whenever you have time for it can help burn that extra energy that keeps you awake at night. Also, getting out into the sun can help. Your body has an internal clock, and without sunlight it doesn't really know what time it is. The sunlight will also help you feel more active during the day.
Napping is a bad idea - it throws you off completely! I understand that you're tired in the middle of the day. Get out and go for a walk or something, but try to avoid napping. Other factors are alcohol, caffeine, and smoking. Now as far as your bedroom environment goes, make sure your bed is big enough. You need the room to roll around and be comfortable. Try other pillows and mattresses. Maybe you need additional softness or firmness, depending on your body type.
Now as far as your bedroom goes, it needs to be dark and quiet. When I say quiet, I mean make sure that you can't hear people talking outside or the TV in the background. What they call white noise is alright, such as a fan or maybe a relaxation CD with waves or calming music. Keeping your room dark is an easy fix. Just buy some dark shades to cover any windows you may have. Early morning light can throw off your body clock and wake you up earlier than you wanted to. You can also try eye masks to cover your eyes.
Other factors in getting better sleep are the temperature of your room and what all you do in your bed. The temperature of your room is a very personal setting because it all depends on what kind of person you are. I have a waterbed and it is heated, but in the summer I turn the heat down. One summer I kept waking up and feeling completely exhausted and I couldn't figure out why. I found it was because my bed was too cold! I was tossing and turning all night, and my body was too busy trying to stay warm to actually get any rest! It may take a few nights to figure out the perfect temperature for you, but when you do it's worth it.
What you do in your bed even has an effect on how you'll sleep. Maybe you do your homework, balance your checkbook, or write out checks to pay bills on your bed because it's a comfortable and relaxing place. However, if you associate your bed with stressful events it will make it harder to wind down at night.
Try to keep a regular bedtime schedule, even on weekends! Helpguide says, "If you regularly go to bed when you don't feel sleepy, not only is it harder to fall asleep, but you may start worrying about not sleeping, which can end up keeping you up longer!"* Try not to stay up late and sleep in on weekends or days off because that will surely throw off your entire sleeping schedule.