The Best Way to Fall Asleep (and avoid interrupted sleep)

A few nights ago, I heard about the 4-7-8 method. This is a method when you breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and then breathe out for 8 seconds. Doing this for a minute or so is said to significantly help you fall asleep within 60 seconds. So I tried it that night. I breathed in, held my breath, and breathed out for 4, 7, and 8 seconds, respectively. I did this over and over again, but I was sure 60 seconds passed, and I was still awake. Nevertheless, I continued breathing this way…and sure enough, I found myself opening my eyes to see that it was morning. Apparently, I must have fallen asleep without even knowing it, which meant that it had worked! I may not have fallen asleep under 60 seconds, but at least I knew for sure that it hadn’t taken me an hour to fall asleep (which is typical for me if I lie in bed and let my mind wander too long). I’m sure I fell asleep in less than 10 minutes when I tried the 4-7-8 method, perhaps even under 5 minutes.  I tried it the next night, and I may have fallen asleep within the first 2-3 minutes or so.

Last night, however, I was already tired after watching 3 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy from about 11:00pm-1:15pm. I’ve been doing that ever since I returned from studying abroad in Spain—my brother and I are fans of the show, and we’re determined to catch up to the latest season! (we’re still on season 6, but we’re getting there…). But since I never like spending an entire day watching TV, I have restricted myself to watching a maximum of 3 episodes a day, and I don’t start watching until late at night—at 11pm or so. So yes, that means I’ve been going to bed pretty late. I was tired last night too, so I didn’t have to use the 4-7-8 method to fall asleep. However, I woke up this morning, slightly drowsy, even though I had almost 8 hours of sleep. Even though the late-night Grey’s Anatomy shows on Netflix has made me go to bed around 2:30-3:00am, I’ve been getting up around 10:30am. So I’ve been getting a good 7ish hours, right? (I do much better with a good 7 hours of sleep rather than 8). So I was questioning myself for feeling a little drowsy when I woke up at 10:15am this morning. Last night I had gone to bed around 2:20am. I’m guessing it was because I woke up around 8:50ish or so, just to go to the bathroom. It must have been the interruption that caused a bit of drowsiness.

As a matter of fact, I’ve been waking up about 1-2 hours before my alarm goes off in the past week or so, just to take a leak. I’m starting to consider changing my drinking routine. Yes, I adhere to a routine in which I drink at least 6 glasses of water a day. I tend to drink a glass of cold water in the morning before and/or during breakfast, one before lunch, and one before and/or during dinner. 2-3 hours after dinner, I drink a glass, and then after taking a shower around 1-2:00am, I drink one last glass right before I go to bed. That’s 6-8 glasses of fluids right there. But since I’ve been waking up 5-6 hours after I go to bed, just to take a leak, I think I might change things up a bit. Perhaps instead of drinking an entire cup before I go to bed, I can drink half a cup a few hours after dinner, and then drink the last half before I go to bed (I love drinking cold water right after a late-night shower—it’s the most refreshing feeling before I hit the sack!).

So I did a bit of research on sleep deprivation and interrupted sleep. According to most of the articles I’ve found, interrupted sleep is just as detrimental as getting little to no sleep at all. Since we go through various phases during an 8-hour sleeping period, any interruptions would make your body start over. A few of the most helpful tips I found to avoid interrupted sleep:

  • turn off electronics– Exposure to even small amounts of light from a television, your computer, tablet, or smartphone can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Plus, when you’re connected to the Internet, your phone or computer are communicating with nearby cell towers, which means they’re also emitting low levels of radiation.
  • Avoid watching TV or using your computer/smartphone or tablet in the evening, at least an hour or so before going to bed– this means not doing what I’m doing, watching 2-3 hours of Grey’s Anatomy before bed. Hmm…I personally might not listen to this tip, though. I have other important things to do during the day, so my ideal TV time is at night—late at night.
  • Take a hot bath 1-2 hours before bedtime– This increases your core body temperature, and when you get out of the bath it abruptly drops, signaling your body that you are ready to sleep. In a way, I am already doing this! I’ve taken my showers right before going to bed, and I’ve been doing so for the past 4 years.
  • Be mindful of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in your bedroom- EMFs can disrupt your pineal gland and its melatonin production, and may have other negative biological effects as well. A gauss meter is required if you want to measure EMF levels in various areas of your home.
  • Adhere to a routine when drinking fluids at night– keeping to a routine in which you drink fluids allows your body to adapt to a certain time to urinate. For example, if you drink a glass of water every day at 9pm and find yourself urinating easily before you go to bed, you may not urinate as easily if you suddenly stop drinking at 9pm and drink sometime earlier or later. Adhering to a strict routine to drinking fluids after dinner may reduce the chances of waking up in the middle of the night to urinate.

Anyway, I hope this helps. I started typing up this blog without any topic in mind—I started out just writing about my day and then found myself rambling on about how drowsy I feel. Today was a slow, boring day: my family did not plan to go out this weekend since my dad was working.  So I’ve been passing my Saturday afternoon reading through random articles, skimming through a few pages of the books I am currently reading, dancing to my favorite songs in Spanish (gotta maintain my Spanish skills since I returned from Spain!), and editing two chapters of Genotopia. Then started typing up this blog.

So my main points: remember that 4-7-8 method if you ever have trouble sleeping, and be aware of your drinking routines and exposure to electronics if you want to avoid interrupted sleeping.

Happy Saturday!

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