Ideas for Getting Better Sleep – Top 10 Checklist
This is another attempt to help you get not just the sleep you think you want but the rest you need. We have reviewed more than one hundred other articles, conducted our own research and developed some new ideas on helping you. Here is our Top-10 Checklist for getting better rest and sleep:
1 – Learn to Relax – transition to sleep – music – visualizing
2 – Stress Management
3 – Power Nap-Snooze Tips
4 – Sleep Schedule & Diary
5 – Drowsy
6 – Throughout the Night – Ceiling time
7 – Staying Alert – Snap Out of It
8 – Room or Environment
9 – Eating to Sleep
10 – Sleep Apps
1 – Relaxing – Not surprising the hardest thing people face is learning how to relax. This is not sitting and watching TV, reading a book, exercising or yoga, reducing alcohol/caffeine intake or any number of other techniques. Relaxing to sleep is something completely different. Sleep relaxation is getting the mind to rest in order that the body will rest. That is, we really don’t need a lot of sleep but often need a lot of rest and often look to sleep aids to help them. Drugs and even vitamins designed to help people sleep generally don’t work and resulting side effects like other drugs often have disastrous results such as sleep walking, falling asleep while driving, headaches and others. They can also have a placebo effect of implying they help but really do not. One of the simplest techniques is to listen to calming music and by creating your own mind-quieting sound. Meditation, often considered something mystical is merely creating your own sound or chant which you combine with deep breathing to relax the body and slow the mind from racing out of control. If you find yourself back worrying, then repeat the sound or chant. It is not easy but often very worthwhile
2 – Stress Management – Some people talk their way out of stress. For many simply telling another person their problems reduces their own stress. Stress can occupy an already busy mind. That is, the mind works all the time whether you are awake or sleep. Some research suggests that we make even make better decisions when we “sleep on” the problems. Not saying we all do but certainly the mind works on the problem even when we are not thinking about it. Reducing stress by listening to ocean waves, gentle blowing wind or other restful music allows the mind to not be so obsessed by the problem you are facing. SleepTracs has a selection of meditation-expert recommended sounds to help you take your mind “off” what you are stressed about.
3 – Power Naps – Snoozing – Few would doubt that short power naps or snoozes are a good way to reduce stress, digest a meal and other benefits. Students are often seen snoozing in the library between classes, workers take a nap between business meetings and there are increasing reports of drivers falling asleep while driving cars. Worse are cases where airline pilots fall asleep during flight. However, there are a number of studies and real-life examples that show taking “cat naps” improves alertness, reduces fatigue and increases energy. This is not the “coffee break” approach but in SleepTracs the snooze feature is designed to help you get those “power naps” between meeting, classes and other busy moments of the day. The Snooze feature gets you in the mood for short resting periods. In other words, the concept of SleepTracs is to recognize the major elements of your day and incorporate features to help you better manage your energy levels and biological needs for rest.
4 – Sleep Schedule & Diary – Nearly all the research we found on better sleep techniques mention maintaining a regular sleep schedule and suggest you set the same time to sleep every day. It is doubtful that anyone will be able to do that even if they tried. At the same time, people generally go to sleep within an hour or so nearly every day because there biological clock tells them to. One of the interesting aspects of sleep patterns is that there are “morning people” who go to bed early, get up early and are most productive early in the day and are done for the day around 4 PM or so. The opposite are “night people” who go to bed late like midnight or later, get up late and are most productive later in the day. From our research, nearly 70% of people are night people while the remainder are morning people. A few say they are both but generally are really night people. Often couples who live together find themselves at opposite ends of the morning-night person scale. This makes for complex sleeping arrangements if one person is a morning person and the other a night one. Setting a schedule may also be more important for one rather than the other and even when they do adjust their schedules getting rest or going to sleep may also be difficult. We have also found that many people sleep in 3-4 hour segments. That is, they go to bed early and get up and work again from 2-4AM and then back to bed for another respite. iSleepTrack helps you track your rest periods and from the vantage you can make better decisions regarding your rest/sleep schedule.
5 – Drowsy
Few doubt that we all get drowsy at some point throughout the day. Meetings, classes or just working at a desk are especially difficult for most people who find the topic(s) boring and the speaker/teachers equally so. Studies show that people drowse because they need more information at a faster rate to stay alert. Looking at it another way, we can read five times faster than we can hear and we can capture visual-action even faster. This means sitting around listening to a teacher or a business presenter is very boring because we want more information to keep our mind busy. To overcome boredom or rather overcoming being drowsy can take many forms. Being busy, walking around the block, or taking notes in class or a meeting, for example, provides a record of the meeting. This is a simple tool to wake yourself up but also how you interpreted the meeting which whether in court, to share with others who are not there or confirm with management what actually took place.
6 – Throughout the Night – Ceiling time
Ceiling time is time during the night when you find yourself wide awake (insomnia) staring at the ceiling. Some people just lay there; others get up and read, watch TV or do something else. Going back to sleep is what is desired but the mind is ready to get up and get going. Getting rest is what is really needed. However, how do you get the rest you need. You may not really need all the sleep you need or that you should sleep in intervals rather than one long stretch. Studies suggest that not that long ago when humankind was still living without shelter in forests or trees, we didn’t not get that much sleep for fear of being attacked or eaten. This suggests that one biological tool in the form of snoring provided a simple means of driving away predators. In addition, after exhaustive search and study of more than 300 citations, where there are hundreds of detailed articles, books and remedies (including 300+ patents) on snoring, there was no research on the origins or etiology of snoring. There was only one hypothesis other than the fact that men snore more than women by almost 2:1, that snoring could be associated with male-female attraction (men defended women at night by snoring). Our theory stands that snoring as a means to prevent attacks from predators or other humans. Few would argue that snoring is a real bother even cause for divorce or other inter-personal problems. If snoring is a bother, than there are herbal, prescription and even surgical means to correct sleep apnea. As one source noted, wild animals do not snore as they sleep in the ventral (crawling) position. Humans and some bull dogs (and a few others) prefer sleeping supine (on your back) the primary cause of snoring. Sleeping on your back, causes the jaw to drop, the tongue to fall backward and vibrate resulting in snoring. There are other contributing factors such as weight, tonsils, adenoids, age and others which increase noise, duration and type of snore. The other impact of snoring resulting in not getting enough sleep can be critical causing the person to fall asleep on the job, driving a vehicle, even while waiting for the traffic light to change. Then there are the social faux pas of falling sleeping while talking to a spouse, in class/meetings, movie theatres and other events. While the loudest snoring on record is 87.5 decibels (source: Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Fairbanks and Fujita Editors on page 3), there are many other reports of snoring above 80 dB like that of a garbage disposal or vacuum. Meanwhile if you find yourself staring at the ceiling, we suggest you get up, occupy your mind with your problems or issues and return to sleep when you are really tired not when you think you are.
7 – Staying Alert – Snap Out of It
Staying alert is more than a double shot of espresso. You can fall asleep anytime. In a recent survey, 90% of all college students said they had fallen asleep at least once in class. While few admit to it, studies show students fall asleep or “nod out” at least once a week in class. In a recent evening class of only five adults, one of them fell asleep right before my eyes. I would like to think my class was more entertaining than that, she admitted that she had been up for more than twelve hours without a break and was really tired. The purpose of the Snap feature in SleepTracs is to provide you a tool when you do fall asleep. Snap or rather “snap out of it” provides a vibration or optional ringtone/music tune to provide a gentle or louder means to stay awake.
8 – Sleeping Room or Environment
The room or environment you attempt to sleep has a major impact on your ability to sleep. If you are in the airline industry or spend your life in “red eye” flights, you know how to sleep in a narrow airplane seat or worse on an airport bench. One simple solution even if you are in a great pillow-top bed in a cool bedroom is to quiet your body to the point of resting or sleeping. Research studies suggest that room conditions including outside noises can have a profound impact on sleep. There are soothing relaxing ambient music pieces in SleepTracs to help you find that quiet time.
Eating too much or too little is a “chemistry experiment” which can get out of control quite easily and have a negative impact on sleeping. Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine has obvious effects. However, eating to sleep starts by keeping a diary of your diet and resulting sleep patterns, is recommended. The adage, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it certainly applies to getting better sleep. SleepTracs has a simple diary and notepad system so you can keep notes about all your activities. We have found that notes on exercise, sleep and diet often result in finding a better way to manage your energy, alertness and sleep patterns. In addition, snoring is three times more common in obese persons.
10 – Sleep App
We would not be surprised that there the number of sleep apps would certainly be on the top ten categories for all apps. The following are some ideas we have incorporated into a new app for iPhone/iTouch and iPad called SleepTracs. The key features are Snooze, Snap and Sleep as well as Dream Diar and Zoomlite. The Snooze feature is designed to let you get your “cat nap” anytime; you can select your snooze time and a wakeup vibration or tone/tune. The Snap feature is a new feature not found in any sleep app we have found so far. Snap is really a “snap out of it” feature that you put in your shirt pocket and when no motion or limited motions are detected, it gives you a vibration or tune/tone. Designed to help you overcome falling asleep in class or on the job, it should not be used while driving (we don’t need any lawsuits). In addition to sleep tracking and logging features, Sleep offers you a scheduling tool and other tools which may be found in other sleep apps. The key point is we have incorporated extensive sleep research into our app.