Finding yourself wide awake after a few hours of sleep, or waking often during the night is called “parasomnia” or “sleep maintenance insomnia,” and it’s much more common than people think. A 2005 National Sleep Foundation poll found that 75 percent of adults frequently have symptoms of a sleep problem, including waking during the night.
We, as men, are often our own worst enemies when it comes to a solid night of sleep. But for most of us, the culprit’s not that ill-conceived espresso at 5 p.m. The root of most sleep problems is stress.
We’re overloaded, overstimulated, and overwhelming our bodies’ ability to relax.
Last night, 10 million men lost their struggle for a good night’s sleep. Today, their jobs, maybe even their lives, are in jeopardy.
A new generation of sleep scientists are overturning the conventional wisdom about parasomnia. You can do it. With a few simple changes in your routine, a little visualization, a couple of surprisingly counter-intuitive moves and perhaps an attitude adjustment, a peaceful night of slumber can be yours.
Throw out your definition of a good night’s sleep
Just as three square meals a day has given way to all-day grazing and smaller portions, “what’s good for you” has changed here, too. Thinking it’s necessary to stay asleep for 8 hours straight may be unrealistic, Even waking every 60 to 90 minutes can be part of a healthy sleep pattern. The deeper stages of sleep, or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, occur about every 90 minutes and get longer as the night goes on, so your brain might become more alert between those cycles. If you find yourself awake in pre-dawn hours, assess your physical state. Do you have an ache, a cramp, or need to go to the bathroom? If so, take care of it.
Clearing your head is key to a good night of sleep. Simply taking 15 minutes to sit quietly, meditate, pray, or do rhythmic breathing can allow your mind to slow down enough to sleep through the night. Make sure your mattress and pillows are offering the best support. When our bodies are stressed, our minds react. A firm mattress topper or pillow duo will create the perfect environment for a good night’s sleep.
Another way to condition yourself is by playing off the body’s internal clock. Before you plan to go to bed – dim the lights significantly. This triggers natural circadian rhythms that help us prepare for sleep.
Make the breath-brain connection
There is evidence that long, slow abdominal breathing will reduce anxiety and arousal.
With your tongue resting on the roof of your mouth, just behind your upper teeth, exhale completely. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose for four counts. Hold your breath for seven counts. Then, exhale while mentally counting to eight. Repeat the cycle three more times. Both are important for restful sleep.
“Get out, get out!”
After 15 minutes of lying awake in bed, you need a change of venue. Staying there is counterproductive and you risk associating the bed with your trouble sleeping, which will exacerbate the problem in nights to come. Go to go to another room.
Once you learn to master theses techniques you will soon be the sensei of sleep and feel like a new man!