How to get better sleep at night with white noise
What is wellness?
Wellness is more than just physical health. How to get better sleep at night is a lifelong process that focuses on a well-rounded, overall health. This includes physical, as well as mental, emotional and social health. Wellness means balancing and trying to improve all aspects involved in health.
What is sleep?
While the question seems obvious, there’s more to sleep than just lying down and closing your eyes. Even though a person isn’t conscious, the body is very active. There are actually 5 different stages involved in sleep.
During the first stage, a person starts to drift off, so it’s easy to wake up again. Muscles start to relax and sometimes contract suddenly, causing the body to kick or twitch involuntarily. During this stage, the eyes move, but slowly.
In the second stage everything – breathing, heart rate, and brain waves – starts to slow down. The body’s temperature starts to decrease, and there’s a feeling of relaxation as the body prepares to enter deeper stages of sleep.
The third and fourth stages bring a much deeper sleep, and it becomes difficult to wake up. Brain waves become much slower, and are characterized by delta waves. The body re-energizes, releases hormones, and makes new tissues during this time. Unlike the next stage, the eyes do not move.
The last stage is known as REM or rapid eye movement. Here the brain is almost as active it is when you’re awake. Although the body becomes paralyzed, eye movements and breathing become rapid, and dreams occur.
When first falling asleep, REM only lasts around 10 minutes, but each time a person passes through the cycles, the amount of REM sleep increases, while the time spent in the deep sleep stages decreases.
According to the American Sleep Association, a complete sleep cycle lasts 90 to 110 minutes. Even though it only takes a little over an hour to go through all the stages of sleep, people actually need to complete several cycles in one night to be fully rested.
What role does sleep play in better sleep?
Sleep is an essential part of our lives and wellbeing. According to the Guardian, people who sleep 8 hours every night will have spent the equivalent of 25 years asleep by the time they reach 75. That’s a lot of time devoted to sleep, but it’s certainly not a waste. There’s a reason why we sleep so much.
Studies show that sleep is involved in many functions related to our daily mental and physical health. During sleep, the body repairs organs like the heart and blood vessels, and maintains a healthy immune system. More than that, the brain remains active, working to create new neural pathways and to store memories for the long term.
In terms of sleep, wellness means building healthy sleeping habits and getting enough quality sleep according to age and lifestyle.
How much sleep do people really need to achieve sleep wellness?
Although the amount of sleep needed to receive the full benefits depends on age, lifestyle and activity level, the National Sleep Foundations makes some general recommendations based on age.
- Babies need more sleep than others. A newborn baby needs between 14 to 17 hours of sleep a day, but this is broken up into naps that last around 2 or 3 hours. By about 6 months, babies start to develop a regular sleep cycle. At that time, babies should be able to sleep through the night for 9 to 12 hours, and continue to take several naps throughout the day.
- Toddlers should sleep 11 to 14 hours every day, with about 4 of those hours being naps. Once toddlers reach 18 months, they should only need one nap a day, which could last up to 3 hours.
- As children get older, they’ll need less and less sleep. Through 5 years, children need 10 to 13 hours of sleep. Starting at about age 6, children only need 9 to 11 hours of sleep each night. By age 13, they only need a little over 9 hours. According to an article published in Business Insider, the best time for children to go to sleep is before 9 o’clock. Any later, and children usually don’t get enough sleep.
- Teenager sleep needs range between 8 to 10 hours a night. While some studies show that teenagers should naturally go to bed later and wake up later, most schools don’t work that way. Teenagers should have a bed time based on the time they need to get up for school.
- Adults, those aged 18 to 64, need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.
- Elders should get 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
What happens when you don’t get enough sleep?
A lack of sleep can negatively impact many areas of a person’s life. While most people know how hard it can be to function the next day on only a few hours of sleep, there’s more to sleep deprivation than grogginess and the craving for a cup of coffee.
Lack of sleep makes people less alert and less able to focus. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), approximately 100,000 car accidents per year can be attributed to sleepy drivers. Not sleeping also makes people more likely to get sick, may contribute to obesity, decrease the ability to process and store memories, and can even interrupt natural growth and development in babies and children.
What issues contribute to lack of sleep and sleep disorders?
According to a 2011 poll for the National Sleep Foundation, as many as 43 percent of people in the U.S. between the ages of 13 and 64 report that it’s uncommon for them to get a good night’s sleep on weeknights. If sleep is so important for health and overall wellness, why do some people have such a hard time falling and staying asleep?Many factors in modern life contribute to the inability to sleep, but age also plays a factor.
From babies to children
Many people might be surprised to know children, toddlers and babies are at risk for sleep disorders. According to a New York Times blog, studies show that 10 percent of children between 6 months to 3 years old have troubles sleeping at night. Not only that, they are also more likely to develop sleep disorders in the future. This means trouble sleeping isn’t something people necessarily grow out of. Because a parent or care taker usually determines a lot in a child’s daily routine, there are some easy solutions to help improve sleep wellness in these age groups.
- Keep kids active during the day to use up excess energy.
- Make a schedule. Children benefit from having a set bedtime routine.
- Avoid excitement before bedtime. Instead, try some calming activities like a bath before bedtime or massages.
- Avoid electronics like TVs or computers, which interfere with melatonin production.
- Try using a white noise machine. This will create a soothing background noise and help create an environment right for sleeping.
Teenagers and Adults
Teenagers and adults can benefit from the above solutions as well, but they usually face additional challenges when trying to fall asleep. Early start schedules at schools, or jobs that have people working late into the night may interfere with natural circadian rhythms. To make matters worse, the use and dependence on caffeine, using technology and eating or drinking alcohol before bed, stress related to work or school, and irregular sleeping patterns can all negatively influence sleep wellness.
The elderly may face some of these problems as well, but have the added difficulty of changing sleeping patterns. When people age, their circadian rhythm begins to change, so they naturally fall asleep and wake up earlier than before. In fact, insomnia complaints are 1.5 times more common among the elderly, according to the National Sleep Foundation. They may also have a lower quality of sleep. Part of this may be explained by the fact older people tend to experience more time sleeping in the lighter sleep cycles and less time in REM than they used to. Another factor that could complicate sleep in the elderly is the use of some medications that can negatively influence sleep.
What are the most common sleep disorders?
Common disorders may include but are not limited to the following:
- Extreme sleepiness
- Sleep apnea
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
What are some natural solutions?
Sometimes people have trouble either falling asleep or staying asleep because of noises that occur around the house, such as the sound of traffic, snoring or dogs barking. A white noise machine creates a consistent background noise that blocks these disruptive sounds. Not only does it block unwanted sounds, it is also soothing, which creates a calming effect that can help people of any age fall asleep and stay asleep.
Memory foam mattresses and pillows can help people sleep better. Originally designed for NASA, memory foam adjusts to each individual’s unique body and sleeping position, relieving pressure points and reducing any potential pain, especially back pain. Memory foam ensures that your entire body aligns properly, which may help ease sleep apnea and provide a quality night’s rest. Not only that, but when sleeping with a partner, memory foam ensures you won’t be disturbed by anyone else’s movements.
Essential oils are known to have a wide variety of benefits, one of which is aiding in sleep. Some of the best oils for sleep are lavender, marjoram and chamomile. These oils can help a person wind down and relax before bedtime. Some may even affect the central nervous system to reduce tension and blood pressure. Many people have a lot going on in their lives and tend to overthink or worry before bedtime. Essential oils help a person calm those nervous thoughts and quite the mind to prevent insomnia and restlessness. They can be used in bathes, rubbed on the wrists or used for massages, as scent diffusers, and in many other ways.
Why choose natural solutions?
Medication is so common in today’s society it may seem logical to look for a pill to fix a sleeping disorder. Although sleeping pills might help people fall asleep, they are only a temporary fix, and not a good one. They usually leave people feeling tired the next morning, anyway.Waking up with sleeping pills still in your system could even impact your ability to drive. Most worrying, almost all sleeping pills are habit forming, meaning they’re addictive. Over time, people build a tolerance to sleeping pills, but increasing the dose too much can be dangerous.
Prescription medications do not address the true causes of sleeping disorders or insomnia. In order to truly How to get better sleep at night, and to fall asleep more quickly, it’s necessary to build healthy habits and create surroundings that promote sleep wellness in a natural way.