Trouble falling asleep is something that can happen to all of us. It shouldn’t, but unfortunately, life doesn’t always allow for a proper sleep routine. So do we just learn to live with it? Absolutely not.
What we need to do is improve the situation to get to sleep faster — for our sake and for our kids. The last thing we want is for them to grow up with unhealthy sleep habits.
That’s what we are here to do today: improve your sleep quality by helping you fall asleep faster. We want to dive all the way down to the roots of sleep. What keeps us from falling asleep on time, staying asleep longer, and keeping us from waking up rested and ready for the next day.
This all starts with a successful trip to dreamland. By the end of this, you’ll be ready for pajamas and your favorite stuffed animal.
What Makes Us So Tired?
Did you know our brains control the trigger to our wake cycle? When mother nature starts to turn the light off outside, our brains trigger melatonin releases to our bodies. Melatonin is the chemical our brains use to help us fall asleep and stay asleep. This melatonin trigger gets thrown off by disruptions in our sleep schedule and habits.
We need this trigger to stay on course to ensure that parents and kids get the proper amount of hours of sleep each night. It’s not just about getting to sleep fast, but it’s also about staying asleep longer. Both of these aspects of our sleep habits are affected by a miscalculation of the melatonin in our bodies.
Let’s discuss why sleep is oh-so-important and how to grasp it.
Why We Need To Stay on Track
Our circadian rhythm is the 24-hour clock our bodies run on. This system in our bodies relies on certain triggers, like melatonin, to keep our clock running smoothly. When our bodies can’t produce melatonin, our wake cycle and sleep cycles become mixed up. When this happens, we have issues, like the inability to fall asleep fast or stay asleep long enough to rest. Situations like these lead to health problems, sleep disorders, and strains in our personal and professional relationships.
Experts have termed these issues (like sleep deprivation) sleep deficiencies. These deficiencies create a “sleep debt,” so to speak, in our bodies. Each night that we don’t get to sleep on time yet still get up at the same time each day creates an amount of sleep we basically owe.
Of course, we owe ourselves, so the debt goes unsettled, but this is the concept. The worst part? Our children are just as likely to be affected by sleep disorders as we are.
Understanding Sleep Debt
The concept of a sleep debt might not be something you’ve thought about before, but there’s no time like the present to address the idea. We rely on sleep to help our bodies reset daily and keep on a healthy track. Many aspects of our well-being are affected by a lack of sleep.
But there are also many causes of our lack of sleep. Between sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, and other underlying health conditions, there are many things to consider if you or your child is lacking sleep.
Let’s go over some of these sleep-related issues and disorders next.
Sleep apnea is the condition when you stop breathing while sleeping. It can happen in one of two ways:
First, your airway can become obstructed by the skin in your throat while you sleep. Second, it can happen when your brain forgets to tell your body to breathe. In either instance, you will stop breathing for a second then wake up from a lack of oxygen.
This constant waking up keeps us from reaching deep sleep. What this means long-term is poor quality of sleep and constant daytime sleepiness.
Insomnia is a disorder in which you fail to fall asleep or stay asleep all night. It can occur in a variety of ways. You could suffer from anxiety. If this is the case, your brain has trouble turning off due to so much worry in your mind.
Another possibility is your sleep environment is obstructed. If you live in a city, the bright lights that surround your home may be confusing your brain into thinking it’s daytime when it’s not.
Insomnia won’t keep you from being asleep ever, but it will lead to substandard quality of sleep. You will wake up the next morning with a sense of sleeplessness due to the inability to stay soundly asleep all night.
Sleep Onset Insomnia
Sleep onset is the transition from an awake state to falling asleep. Insomnia due to lack of sleep onset is the inability to trigger this response in the body.
Sleep onset is the system that helps your body fall asleep and make the transition to a REM cycle. Children especially have difficulty regulating sleep onset triggers as their brains are just now developing these functions.
Grinding Your Teeth
Grinding your teeth while you sleep at night could be keeping you from getting a good night’s rest. Also known as bruxism, this is a condition that affects heavy drinkers or those under chronic stress. Do you know who this also affects? Our kiddos. It is very common for children to grind their teeth while they sleep.
Investing in a proper mouth guard is usually recommended and prescribed by doctors. Your front teeth will thank you for taking the advice.
People that deal with excess weight tend to have problems getting a good night’s sleep. Fat deposits around the nose will be larger than others without weight concerns. Due to this, a situation similar to sleep apnea will occur and cause individuals to wake up constantly throughout the night.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome causes an irresistible urge to move your legs once you lay down for sleep. It’s a neurological disorder, meaning that professional help and mediation might be necessary.
Also, an interesting note: women are twice as likely to be affected with this disorder than men.
This shouldn’t be confused with Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD). In this condition, your leg will periodically cramp and seize up as you sleep. It can potentially cause you to wake up fully or at least awaken enough to be taken out of deep sleep.
Parasomnias: Sleepwalking and Night Terrors
These are also known as abnormal movements. These include sleepwalking and night terrors. While not necessarily dangerous, sleepwalking happens when your brain doesn’t completely turn off at night.
The area of your brain that controls walking and limb movements stays active while you sleep. Even though it isn’t seen as an overall dangerous condition, it can affect the quality of sleep you get.
Night terrors are a very common occurrence for our kiddos. This can be a little more intense than average sleepwalking. You can suspect night terrors as opposed to just nightmares if your child is screaming out in their sleep and wakes up sweating. You can also expect sleepwalking, but movements will be faster and potentially more aggressive.
Prescription medications like antidepressants or allergy medications can mess with our bodies’ circadian rhythm. Beta-blockers, which can treat high blood pressure, may also inhibit your body from making melatonin.
Secondhand Sleep Issues
A snoring partner, children who burn the midnight oil, and pets who like to find out what you’re up to at midnight can all be reasons our sleep gets disrupted. If these happen often enough, they can lead to sleep problems that are more challenging to banish.
These are just some of the issues that can lead to trouble getting to sleep at night. But we have so much more to cover!
Next, let’s go over some of the issues that can occur when we can’t get that healthy sleep we need.
How Does a Lack of Sleep Affect Adults?
The effects of improper habits at sleep time can seriously degrade our ability to fall asleep.
Here are some of the issues we can have due to lack of sleep:
- Weak immune system
- Inability to deal with daily stressors
- Increased risk for weight gain
- Inability to focus on work or other obligations
- Conflicts with a partner and other family members
- Heightened emotional responses to stressors
- Poor memory
- Physical responses (teeth grinding or muscle tensing) when faced with stressors
- Deterioration to the sympathetic nervous system(SNS) — the area that controls our flight or fight response. A decrease in function will mean our reaction times are affected.
- In response to the SNS being negatively affected, we also exhibit an increase in blood pressure
These are some of the various side effects to look out for if you deal with trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. The longer we ignore our sleep situation, the more these issues can creep up when we’re not expecting it.
How Does a Lack of Sleep Affect Children?
Just like we worry about our own side effects of poor sleep quality, our worries are heightened further by the struggles of our littles.
Even if we don’t realize the issues our children are having, we should look for these side effects of insufficient sleep and restlessness:
- Difficulty getting up in the morning
- Inability to concentrate or follow directions
- More tantrums or more emotional unrest
- Intense mood swings and more resistance to requests
- Slow reflexes or reaction times
- More “accidents” or trouble with coordination
- Higher likelihood of accidents or injuries
As parents, we are always concerned about the well-being of our children. So keeping an eye on these issues could help our kids get the help they need to get better sleep.
Getting To Sleep Faster
On average, it should take adults about twenty minutes to fall asleep and kids up to 30 minutes. It shouldn’t take anyone, regardless of age, less than ten minutes to fall asleep. Falling asleep too fast can mean some of the same issues are at play as those that make it difficult to fall asleep.
Next, we need to go over some of the ways you can get to sleep faster and get back on a positive sleep schedule.
Positive Sleep Hygiene
Good sleep hygiene is the idea that your bedtime routine and daytime routine are consistent to ensure sleep. It will mean that falling asleep will be easy, and you’ll have a better chance of staying asleep all night.
While sleep hygiene might seem like an all-encompassing idea, there are so many ways to get there. Understanding the concept of good sleep hygiene is the first step in putting the right tools in place to get to sleep faster.
Let’s Get Zen Again
Your brain needs to chill. Being able to relax in stressful situations will help turn your brain off at the end of the night. Meditation, or positive breathing techniques, are a great first step in getting your brain on board. Being able to turn your brain off at the end of the day is necessary to reset for the next morning.
Practice deep breathing exercises daily. Next time something stressful occurs, your body will be equipped to handle the moment.
Chamomile tea is another great way to relax before bed. The herbs and flowers included in the tea help calm our minds, the perfect activity before going to bed. Relaxation techniques in any form are a step in the right direction for getting to sleep faster at night.
Work It Out
When stressed, a good breathing method isn’t the only thing you need for your brain. Adequate physical activity daily is healthy for us in more ways than one. It keeps our systems functioning properly, keeps our endurance up, and helps our brains shut down at night.
Stress can keep us up at night, but exercise is known to help relieve stress. In addition to this, exercise helps make sure that you’re out of energy at night. You know that “sleep debt” we were talking about before? Well, think of exercise as payment in advance for making up that debt. If your energy is spent, your brain knows to turn off to start over for the next day.
We want to start this off by saying we don’t recommend melatonin replacements or other sleep aids that have to be ingested. These items aren’t always regulated by the FDA and can mess with the natural processes of your body. Instead, reach for sleep aids that don’t interfere with the body.
Our SleepyPatches are a beautiful aromatic blend of all-natural essential oils that are proven to help us fall asleep and stay that way. The mandarin, lavender, sweet marjoram, and vetiver blend is the perfect recipe to help you close your eyes and drift away to dreamland.
What’s the best part? It’s safe for kids too! The whole family can benefit from these patches safely and effectively.
Try to limit the use of electronic devices before getting ready for bed. This means that at least an hour or more before bed, turn off tablets and games. These items keep your brain stimulated and make it hard for your brain to make the switch.
What’s even worse? Blue light is known to block your brain’s ability to make melatonin, so sleep is almost impossible.
Instead, try taking a warm bath or warm shower.
At the designated time to turn off devices, make the switch to warm water. It helps our bodies relax and can promote the triggering of melatonin production. Our body temperature drops before going to sleep at night. So, when you step out of the bath, your body will feel that hit of cold air, and your brain will know it’s time for bed.
Turn This On
No, not your tablet. There are other devices or tools to utilize that help with getting to sleep. Earplugs or white noise machines can help drown out outside noises. Especially if you live in a densely populated city, outside elements can make it hard for your brain to shut off. These items can block these things and create a better environment for sleep.
Blackout curtains might be another option for those that do have an issue with light exposure through windows. City lights rarely turn off. So, if you’re trying to go to sleep but your window faces a sign, you could have a problem. Be sure to curtains that can be pulled back so that you’ll be able to let the light in during the day.
We are confident that you are armed and ready with all the necessary information and tools to get to sleep faster tonight. Sleep disorders are a serious issue. If you or your children suffer from any, it’s vital to get the help you need as soon as possible.
If your family is just having a hard week, that happens. We are confident our patches, combined with these other tips, will be perfect for getting your brain back on track.