The inability to fall asleep is no foreign concept to me. Since I was a child, I struggled with the idea of peacefully nodding off to sleep. I often wrestled with the blankets and tried every possible breathing exercise I could find. The older I got, the trickier it became to manage my sleep schedule. Academic all-nighters, stress and caffeine all got in the way of my good night’s rest. Just when I thought that I had finally made progress and that sleep was on its way, lockdown came along and derailed my sleep schedule all over again.
Spending the whole day at home, didn’t exactly physically exhaust me, yet the ability to spend the whole day in bed was far too tempting. In the mornings, I slept way more than I should have and at night I scrolled aimlessly on social media for hours. The result of months of this crazy sleep schedule was an overly tired, stressed insomniac. I then knew that I needed to find a way to set myself back to ‘normal’ or else continue to remain unfocused and exhausted.
I searched every possible remedy on Google, I asked my followers on Instagram and even tried various breathing exercises, yet nothing really seemed to work. I gave up caffeine, tried yoga and even limited my time on social media before bed - yet as healthy as these habits are, they did very little to help me sleep. I knew that it was time for a new approach, so instead of focusing my attention on falling asleep, I shifted my attention to waking up.
On day 1 of my sleep experiment, I set 3 alarms each with 15 minutes to half an hour intervals. My aim was to get out of bed at 7 AM no matter how exhausted I felt. I continued this for a few days and noticed that by bedtime I was exhausted. And, after experiencing my first good night’s rest in months, I finally figured out that I wasn’t originally deprived of sleep, I was actually getting too much of it. The earlier I began waking up, the more tired I felt at night, resulting in a higher chance of falling asleep quicker.
A few days of continuing on this pattern, I noticed that I started to feel more energetic, more focused and less groggy in the mornings and at night, I felt more relaxed, content and sleepier. Ironically, sleeping less helped my insomnia.
According to ‘Sleep Foundation’ irregular sleep patterns, such as excessive sleeping in the mornings (in an attempt to catch up on sleep) can really throw off your circadian rhythm (natural sleep cycle). When this schedule is disrupted insomnia can become a problem. This doesn’t apply to the occasional Saturday morning sleep-in, but rather becomes a problem when sleeping in becomes your norm.
Since sleep is such an important factor in living a healthy life, I had always just assumed that the more I slept, the better. Yet, according to The Sleep Doctor, hypersomnia (sleeping too much) can be just as unhealthy as not sleeping enough.
Although the age-old recommendation of sleep is 8 hours, everybody requires a different amount of sleep to remain active and healthy. Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule not only requires patience and consistency, but also discipline. Nobody wants to get out of bed when they’re still feeling tired, but strictly getting up at the same time every day will help your body to adjust easier to a more regular sleep schedule.