Sleeping pills risks and how to fall asleep naturally
If you read this, you probably have some trouble sleeping and you are taking pills to make you sleep. When one has trouble sleeping, sleeping pills appear as miraculous. By just ingesting a pill you’ll find yourself sleeping like a baby. But if it was only miraculous, we would not bother writing about it.
Sleeping pills can be taken to catch up when you have a lot of sleep debt or when you are traveling and you must absolutely sleep during a specific period of time. But it should be taken punctually to cope with temporary difficulties and not systematically. A good use of sleeping pills should not exceed a few days. Otherwise, their benefits won’t be miraculous anymore.
If you take sleeping pills systematically, you might get addicted. This means that your brain will get used to benefiting from their help and will no longer make the effort to fall asleep by itself , resulting in your natural chemical system not working properly. In addition to that, the effectiveness on your brain of the sleeping pills will decrease over time. As a result, you will not be able to fall asleep properly without them and at the same time the pills won’t be effective anymore. (This also applies to natural sleep solutions).
On the one side you will lose your freedom but on the other side you also risk to damage your health because their prolonged use causes undesirable effects such as daytime drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, memory problems, awareness problem, changes in appetite, headache, stomach pain, heartburn and more.
So what should you do to fall asleep without sleeping pills?
Sleep should be prepared during the day. If you follow what is said in this article with a bit of willpower, you will naturally regain a normal sleep without taking any external substances.
Experience both daylight and darkness.
Light influences your body’s internal clock, which regulates sleep and wakefulness. Irregular light exposure can lead to a disruption in your circadian rhythms, making it harder to fall asleep. That’s why if you live in a country where there is not a lot of sun or winters without sun, it is normal for you to have episodes where you sleep badly. It is important to expose your body to bright light or artificial bright light during the day and sleep in a dark room at night. (Click here to know more about Circadian Rhythm)
Respect a regular schedule
The second most important tip is to follow a regular schedule. This means going to bed at the same time each night to regulate your inner clock and to wake up at the end of your sleep. Generally, night people tend to have difficulties falling asleep quickly. And people tend to comfort themselves with the fact that they are not morning people so they can not do anything about it. But this is wrong. To make the changes, you have to be patient. Do it slowly, over days or weeks, and then stick with them for maximum effect. It takes discipline, but it can be done.
If you are a night person, I’ll give you a tip to adapt very quickly. Force yourself to wake up earlier than expected by an hour or two. Tired in the following days, you will be able to easily fall asleep sooner and faster. Once you see the change, stick to this bedtime and you will see that you will adapt very easily.
The Circular app can help you with that because it will analyze for you, your sleep needs and tell you at what time you should go to bed depending on your time to fall asleep and your waking up time.
No nap for you
If you are having naps during the day, get rid of them.
If you are not already doing physical activity, be active during your day. But be careful, do not do sports too close to the time you go to bed or your system will still be stimulated and you won’t be able to fall asleep correctly. Give your system at least 3 hours before sleeping.
Avoid digital screens
The following factor is the number one cause for extremely high falling asleep time. SCREENS. Digital screens are a plague for sleep and this for two main reasons. Firstly because watching something on a screen requires a lot of effort for your eyes and is very stimulating for your brain. This will make your brain think unnecessarily (even unconsciously) before and during your sleep. And secondly, because the blue light of these screens will disrupt your circadian rhythm. Basically, it will make think your inner clock that it is not time to sleep, and therefore delay your sleep even if you put yourself in the dark.
So don’t watch digital screens before sleeping. And if you really want to watch your screen, install something to get rid of blue light, lower the brightness to the minimum and do not look at your screen in the dark but rather in a lit room. Finally do not look at your screens in your bed while lying down. Because lying in bed for a long time without sleeping will also disrupt your inner system. The gesture of lying indicates to your system that you want to sleep, so don’t miss your opportunity to sleep.
Be smart about what you eat and drink
Minimizing caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before sleeping seems logical. But less known, avoid having heavy and late dinner. A light dinner, without quick sugars and red meat but with a portion of slow sugars.
Do not eat within 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
Create a comfortable environment of sleep.
Don’t work too late to free your mind (within 2 hours of the time you want to sleep).
Sleeping in a quiet, dark room and at a cool and comfortable temperature will help you sleep faster. The ideal room temperature for sleep is between 18 – 22 degrees Celsius (64.4 – 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
Meditation and relaxation training will help you improve fall asleep faster and sleep better. There is a simple but powerful breathing method called 4-7-8 method that is used by the military and ancient yogi that will lower your heartbeat, calm yourself and make you fall asleep faster, sleep better and increase your natural defense.
Here are the steps. Exhale completely through your nose until you completely empty your air. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose until you are completely filled with air (belly and lung) while mentally counting to four. Hold your breath and mentally count to seven. Close your mouth and exhale completely through your nose, and mentally counting to eight. If 4-7-8 is easy for you double the ratio to 8-14-16 and so on. The higher the ratio the better it is. Repeat this cycle 7 times. Do it at least three times a day, the more you do it the better it will be for you.
Do not pay attention to time
People who can’t fall asleep often tend to watch the clock and are obsessed about the fact that they cannot fall asleep. But this behavior causes anxiety and that’s what you want to avoid. So get rid of any clock in your bedroom that shines in the night or forces yourself not to watch it. Even if it is tempting, watching the time is useless. In the end, you will have to wake up at the time you have set and it is not by looking at it that you will fall asleep faster.
Fight anxiety and stress
One of the major cause for falling asleep issues is anxiety and stress. I am anxious myself and I hate it when my brain starts working hard just before sleeping when I have my eyes closed. I then find it hard to relax and to turn off my thoughts.
There are techniques that I have tested and that I can confirm are helping. Try to visualize something that makes you happy and smile while you have your eyes closed. This technique will help you occupy your mind with good thoughts instead of engaging with worries and concerns during pre-sleep time. But if you think of something important and you feel that it develops in your mind. Stand up and write it down on a piece of paper. At first glance, one may think that getting up will make you start over from the beginning but on the contrary, it will allow you to move on and fall asleep more quicker.
But the best techniques to clear your mind before sleeping are still meditation and breathing exercises.
Yes, there are a lot of parameters to take into consideration in order to find good sleep back . But you are certainly doing great on some of these factors. And if you are not, it’s okay. Try to apply these changes one by one. This may take several weeks, but I guarantee you’ll get there!
- Medications for the Treatment of Sleep Disorders: An Overview. J. F. Pagel, M.D. and Bennett L. Parnes, M.D
- Hypnotic drug risks of mortality, infection, depression, and cancer: but lack of benefit. Daniel F. Kripke