Sleep plays a key role in ensuring that our cognitive and physical abilities are as efficient as possible. High-quality sleep can help in-memory processing since brain waves are drastically slowed during deep sleep, hence having high amplitudes with a low frequency. This helps in consolidating memories and restoring the body and the brain.
Most people have experienced a restless night at least once in their life. This may be accredited to inflated living costs, which drive people to work harder and provide for their families. Given life's gruesome and unforgiving nature, we get lost in tasks and duties, abnegating quality sleep for financial gain. Frequently, many feel more tired, unwell, or dissatisfied after a restless sleep. The term "restless sleep" may not be a medical term, but it is widely understood and relatable. We shall delve into a restless sleep, what causes it, and how it can be mitigated.
What Is Restless Sleep?
The term "restless sleep" is more or less subjective. It depends on an individual's experiences that made them feel more fatigued, instead of refreshed, after waking up. Several experiences vividly describe restless sleep, such as:
Being unable to fall back asleep after suddenly waking up quickly
Feeling "half-asleep" as you are unable to experience deep sleep
Continuously tossing and turning in bed as you try to get comfortable
Inability to sleep soundly, which may make you feel frustrated
If left unchecked, constantly getting restless sleep may cause you to be drowsy during the day, and driving or operating any heavy machinery may be risky.
What Causes Restless Sleep?
Poor habits, sleep disorders, and fatigue may affect your physical and mental state, leading to restless sleep. According to DelRosso et al. (2021), there has been a surge in the number of children experiencing restless sleep. This may be accredited to overexposure to blue light, which adversely affects the eye cells.
According to Plan (2021), increased consumption of alcohol causes restless sleep, and even if it causes drowsiness, it disrupts normal sleep cycles facilitated by the circadian rhythm. Increased nicotine and caffeine consumption also cause restless sleep as the body and brain get used to being unprepared for sleep.
Anxiety and stress, including anxiety disorders, cause restless sleep. Demirci et al. (2015) noted that a person's mind is kept unnecessarily active when stressed or anxious. This leads to the secretion of the cortisol hormone, which dramatically rises and makes someone feel unable to calm down, relax, and even sometimes fail to breathe normally. Furthermore, depression, grief, stress, and anxiety affect a person's mental state as they are in constant conflict with their emotions, hence are unable to process thoughts and ideas properly and behave rationally.
Additionally, sleeping in an unconducive environment may cause restless sleep. Sleeping in areas with extreme weather conditions without properly gearing up may frustrate you since these weather conditions adversely affect your body and peace of mind. Ensure you have enough bedding, a good, wide mattress, and a well-ventilated room to enable you to have a more peaceful sleep at night
How to Alleviate Restless Sleep
Addressing it as soon as possible is important to stop restless sleep from becoming more detrimental. This can be in several ways:
Take a Relaxing Shower
Taking a relaxing shower should be part of your nighttime regimen. It is advisable to do this about 3 hours before bedtime continuously. Taking a shower at such a precise time relaxes your body muscles and frees your mind from the pressures that may have surrounded you during the day.
Create a More Conducive Environment in Your Bedroom
Give Aromatherapy a Shot
Aromatherapy involves spraying essential oils such as lavender oil in your room. Add 7 drops of your preferred essential oil into a spray bottle and fill it with cold water. Spray into the air right before bedtime. Aromatherapy creates a relaxing aura that relaxes your mind and increases muscle tension.
Maintain A Cool and Dark Environment in Your Bedroom
There are no qualms about the importance of keeping your room dark and cool. Keeping the dark room triggers the secretion of melatonin, which enables you to have a peaceful night's sleep. Keep your windows open to allow cool air to circulate in the room and give it a rejuvenating effect on your mind and body. Consider wearing lighter sleepwear during the summer, and have enough bedding to keep you warm and comfortable during the winter.
Limit Your Exposure to Blue Light, Especially In the Evening
Switch off devices such as laptops, televisions, tablets, and phones at least 2 hours before bedtime, since these devices emit a high spectrum of blue light. It is also recommended to wear glasses that block off blue light.
Tosini et al. (2016) commented that exposure to blue light can damage eye cells and incorrectly trigger melatonin secretion. Melatonin is a hormone that aids in regulating the sleep cycle; hence, its unwarranted secretion disrupts the circadian rhythm that would otherwise regulate the secretion of melatonin.
Maximize Your Exposure to Bright Light during the Day
To address the issue of restless sleep, remember to increase your exposure to bright light for a minimum of 2-3 hours every single day. If you live in an area that experiences limited sunlight durations, purchase a high-quality artificial bright light to do the trick. The time taken to fall asleep is also significantly reduced by 84% once you maximize exposure to bright light.
Relax and clear your mind before going to sleep. Reflect on the day's events, and reassure yourself that the next day will be better. Listen to chill music and have a relaxing massage. Meditate, think positively, and allow your mind to float fleetingly into vast blissful experiences
Sleep plays an instrumental role in our health. Restless sleep can be caused by depression, anxiety, stress, and high alcohol and nicotine consumption. To address this problem, create a peaceful environment in your bedroom, take a relaxing shower, reduce alcohol consumption and meditate. These 4 options will help those concerned to get enough sleep and one that is calm.
Delrosso, L. M., Picchietti, D. L., Spruyt, K., Bruni, O., Garcia-Borreguero, D., Kotagal, S., ... & International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group. (2021). Restless Sleep In Children: A Systematic Review. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 56, 101406.
Demirci, K., Akgönül, M., & Akpinar, A. (2015). Relationship Of Smartphone Use Severity With Sleep Quality, Depression, And Anxiety In University Students. Journal Of Behavioral Addictions, 4(2), 85-92.
Plan, C. M. (2021). Tips To Get Restful Sleep At Night. Sleep.
Tosini, G., Ferguson, I., & Tsubota, K. (2016). Effects Of Blue Light On The Circadian System And Eye Physiology. Molecular Vision, 22, 61–72.
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