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5 Ways to Overcome Sleep Deprivation

As of lately I noticed that I was having severe problems to fall asleep in the evening, which led me to toss and turn in the bed for hours, before I finally fell asleep. Something that made it even more complicated to fall asleep was the fact that some of my best ideas started to arise, whenever I was lying in bed for a couple of minutes. I think I don’t have to mention that when I got up in the morning, I felt powerless and really tired.

Did you know… that approximately 60 million people in the US suffer from different forms of sleep disorders occasionally or even chronically? There are many different forms of sleep disorders, with names such as insomnia, narcolepsy or sleep apnea. Simply put, the sleep disorders can be classified into the following three categories:

  • excessive sleep (excessive daytime sleepiness)
  • lack of sleep [insomnia] (when you cannot fall asleep)
  • disturbed sleep (when you wake up often)

The following article definitely focuses on the question on how to overcome sleep deprivation in form of a lack of sleep, when you are facing problems to fall asleep.

Everyone who has problems to fall asleep at night will agree with me that it is a really annoying state, of not knowing exactly what to do in order to fall asleep immediately. Due to the fact that enough sleep is absolutely necessary for me in order to be energized and revitalized the next day I chose to reflect my behavior as precise as possible, in order to find the possible solution to overcome my momentary sleep disorder.

How to overcome insomnia?


Here is what I did that helped me to fall asleep at night just as regular:

1. Regular Sleeping Schedule

For people who go to bed spontaneously it might sound awkward, but by scheduling the time I slept allowed me to get into a rhythm that made it much easier for me to fall asleep at night. The sleeping schedule included the time I went to bed and the time I set the alarm to get up in the morning. Due to the fact that every person needs different amounts of sleep I will not recommend you how long you should sleep at night. Scientists have shown, however, that adults need an average of 7 to 8 hours daily, whereas teenagers often need up to 9 hours a day. You can feel free to also schedule your sleeping time at the weekend; I for myself do not schedule the sleeping time of the weekend, as I’m mostly out with friends.

SUMMARY:

  • Set a regular bedtime
  • Set your alarm to wake you at the same time

2. One hour before going to sleep

Another very helpful tip I can give you to overcome sleep deprivation is to put everything aside one hour before you go to sleep. This includes turning of the TV, computer, music and everything else that might distract you during this time. I experimented with setting anything aside half an hour before going to sleep, but I find it more effective to start with it one hour before going to bed. During the period of one hour I start to mentally relax from a busy day, my thoughts start to get calmer and my overall body feels more relaxed. Sometimes I grab an interesting book, play lounge and chill out music as background music or simply let my thoughts wander. Whatever it is, it helps me to switch off mentally from my everyday life and I go to bed in a very calm and relaxed state of mind, without interrupting thoughts that prevent me from falling asleep.

3. Sleep environment

A friend of mine slept in a boarding home for years and is completely used to use earplugs whenever he sleeps. So you might want to use earplugs to block external sounds that could distract you from falling asleep, but make sure that you still hear your alarm and loud noises in general. I also find it helpful to listen to my mp3-player, but as mentioned in #2 only to calm and relaxed songs, if possible without lyrics at all. Furthermore, I once saw reportage about people that were living in loud areas for years had become problems to fall asleep if they relocate to another, more silent area. So in case you are used to specific sounds from your former environment you might want to have a look for devices that can reproduce these, if your partner has no problems with it. Some of these devices can imitate the sounds of a fan, refrigerators, electrical humming, the ticking of a clock and many other sounds. The reason why people struggle to fall asleep without these sounds is that they help people to relax, by focusing on it and allows them to silence their inner voice.

4. Don’t take naps!

As a logical conclusion during the time I had problems to fall I sleep I felt often really tired and started to take a nap in the late afternoon. It somehow irritated me, as I was never taking regular naps before, but it also was totally easy for me to fall asleep during these naps. When I looked closer I noticed that the naps helped me to catch up on lost sleep, but they were also a negative factor that made it more complicated for me to fall asleep at night. Taking a nap daily disturbed my natural sleep rhythm and was one of the main reasons I was facing insomnia during this period of weeks when I was not able to fall asleep fast.

SUMMARY:

  • don’t take a nap and fight the tiredness during the day
  • if you are really used to take a nap then limit it to less than 20-30 minutes

Albert Einstein was a true napping enthusiast and contemporary witnesses told that he was taking one nap a day. However, Einstein applied a simply, yet effective trick that helped him not to fall asleep during a nap: he put an item in his hand with his arm stretched out over the floor. Whenever Einstein was falling asleep the muscles in his arm relaxed, which caused the item to fall on the floor that finally woke him up again. It is a simple, yet effective trick not to fall asleep during a nap. So, if you really insist on taking a nap, make at least sure that you won’t fall asleep.

5. Nutritional behavior

As a general rule of thumb: don’t eat anything within two hours before you go to bed. Especially heavy and fatty foods will keep you awake. Furthermore, I highly recommend you to avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before going to bed.

That was basically it. The above named 5 rules have helped me to overcome insomnia and to fall asleep again shortly after going to bed.

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IMPORTANT NOTICE: This article was written for people who struggle every once in a while to fall asleep. Please consult a doctor if you are having chronic sleep deprivation. I’m neither a doctor nor engaged in rendering medical or psychological services, or any other services.

Image by Robert Couse-Baker

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  1. Karen on Jan 3, 2011

    I find that I have trouble with drowsiness in the afternoon. Usually, I have eaten a big lunch. It drives me crazy!

    • Steve on Jan 3, 2011

      Karen, yeah drowsiness after a big lunch can be really annyoing… especially when you still have to get some work done ;-)

  2. Leon on Nov 5, 2012

    Hi, that was a good read! I have a feeling that this could help me to overcome sleep deprivation, so for that I would like to thank you very much.
    Could you hint us at your Twitter account, I sure would like to follow you if that is okay with you! Keep up the great work. I look forward to new articles on your blog.