Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Dusan

Dusan is a biologist, a science enthusiast and a huge nature lover. He loves to keep up to date with all the new research and write accurate science-based articles. When he’s not writing or reading, you can find him in the kitchen, trying out new delicious recipes; out in the wild, enjoying the nature or sleeping in his bed.

Do Optimistic People Sleep Better?

Optimism has been linked with better health outcomes, and in this new study, researchers show that it can even lead to better sleep.

If “Always look on the bright side of life” is your motto, we have some good news for you. Optimism and better health outcomes go hand in hand, and many scientists have hypothesized that it may be due to more efficient restorative processes. Sleep is a time when our bodies and minds repair all the damages, and therefore our nightly rest is one of the most important restorative processes.

Researchers at the University of Illinois wanted to see how optimism affected sleep, and whether we could see an increase in quality and duration in optimistic people.

The team followed 3548 participants aged 32-51 who participated in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. In two instances, five years apart, participants filled a survey to help researchers asses their optimism levels.

All participants also filled a Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index and Epworth Sleepiness Scale to assess their quality of sleep during the prior month. The survey helped gain insight into how many hours participants had each night, as well as difficulty falling asleep, nighttime awakenings, and more insomnia symptoms.

Data showed that participants with higher optimism scores also experienced adequate sleep, resting six to nine hours every night. And additionally, they were 74% less likely to exhibit symptoms of insomnia and experience daytime sleepiness.

Failing to get adequate sleep regularly increases the risk of developing many conditions like cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, and many more. And when you think about the fact that 1 in 3 people in the US doesn’t get enough sleep, you understand how dangerous the situation is.

That is why experts are trying everything they can to help people experience better nightly rest. And although optimism seems to work, achieving it isn’t something you can simply do.

Describing the exact mechanisms that allow optimism to affect sleep won’t be easy. Researchers suggest that it probably has something to do with optimistic people developing healthy ways to cope with stress. That allows them to process stressful events more efficiently and get adequate rest.

The team published their findings in the Behavioral Medicine journal. Their results were in line with the team’s prior studies, which showed optimists to have better heart health.

Although there was a significant positive correlation between optimism and sleep quality, the authors suggest that we should interpret these results with caution. There are more studies needed to draw definite conclusions and find out the mechanisms behind this link. In the meantime, positive thinking doesn’t hurt anybody, so maybe it is time we try to change how we perceive life.

 

 

Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Dusan

Dusan is a biologist, a science enthusiast and a huge nature lover. He loves to keep up to date with all the new research and write accurate science-based articles. When he’s not writing or reading, you can find him in the kitchen, trying out new delicious recipes; out in the wild, enjoying the nature or sleeping in his bed.

Emotional and Behavioral Problems in Toddlers Linked to Disturbed Sleep During Infancy

Disturbed sleep has a huge effect on mood, emotional state, and daytime functioning. This study researches the impact of poor sleep at an early stage.

Sleep is one of the most important things at a young age. It is essential for proper physical and mental development, as well as emotional well-being. If you thought that depression, anxiety, and behavioral problems are reserved for adults only, you couldn’t be more wrong.

An increase in the prevalence of these conditions in children shows that the situation is very serious, and we might have to look for triggers at the early stage of development.

A new study from the University of Birmingham investigates a link between sleep problems at an early age, and how they affect later emotional development. The results show that infants with poor sleep quality have a higher chance of developing depression, anxiety, or behavioral problems as toddlers.

Although it is well known how sleep disturbances can impact mood, irritability, and behavioral difficulties during the daytime, this study investigates how poor sleep affects behavioral and emotional health later in childhood.

Researchers from the University of Birmingham collaborated with the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare to find out the impact of night awakenings, prolonged period of falling asleep, and short sleep duration on emotional state and behavioral problems in toddlers at 24 months.

The team used the results from sleep questionnaires from a study where parents reported sleep quality of their children at 3, 8, 18, and 24 months. They gathered the information from almost 1700 parents. Later, those results were compared with an additional questionnaire on emotional and behavioral state at 24 months, filled by 950 parents.

The results showed frequent night awakenings at three months of age to be strongly linked to the inability to control emotions and behavior, and overall emotional problems in toddlers. Additionally, both short sleep and longer sleep onset were correlated to behavioral problems at 24 months, such as temper tantrums.

According to these findings, it is easy to conclude the enormous importance of sleep quality on mental health and the development of healthy coping mechanisms at a later age. These sleep disturbances could have different origins, form genetics to environmental factors. Of course, detecting poor sleep at a young age is vital for healthy development.

Authors highlight the importance of more research in this area, as well as developing novel interventions for infants with sleep problems, as it could be particularly beneficial for healthy emotional state and behavioral control in children.

 

 

Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Dusan

Dusan is a biologist, a science enthusiast and a huge nature lover. He loves to keep up to date with all the new research and write accurate science-based articles. When he’s not writing or reading, you can find him in the kitchen, trying out new delicious recipes; out in the wild, enjoying the nature or sleeping in his bed.

How Deep Sleep Helps Ease Stress and Anxiety

A new study from UC Berkley highlights the importance of deep sleep in dealing with stress and anxiety. It is essential for both prevention and recovery.

Stress is an inevitable part of our lives, and many people deal with it every day. No matter how much you try to avoid stressful situations, it is impossible to remove them completely from your life. Learning how to cope with stress and anxiety is essential if you want to minimize their effect on your health.

According to a new study from the University of California, Berkley, sleep is an effective way to get your emotions in order. In fact, they claim that losing a night of sleep can lead to a 30% rise in anxiety levels the following day.

We all know that sleep is vital for our well-being, as lack of proper rest often leaves us irritable, prone to mood swings, and unable to concentrate or perform mentally. And according to UC Berkley researchers, a specific phase of sleep is responsible for resetting our anxious brains.

When we fall asleep, we experience a couple of light sleep phases at the beginning, following by deep sleep, and then finally rapid eye movement (REM) stage. It seems that deep sleep is particularly important for reducing stress and anxiety, as neural oscillations are deeply synchronized, and blood pressure and heart rate drop. That gives a perfect opportunity to reorganize connections in the brain and repair damage.

Study authors point that sleep is a natural remedy for anxiety disorders that are on the rise in the US, with over 40 million Americans suffering from them. What’s concerning is that we see a trend of prevalence increase in children and teens. But when you account for the fact that most children and teenagers aren’t getting enough sleep regularly, it all makes sense.

Using a series of experiments, researchers from UC Barkley scanned the brains of 18 young adults, while they watched disturbing video clips. The investigators wanted to see if there was any difference if the participants viewed stirring videos after a sleepless or a night full of sleep. They used polysomnography and functional MRI for measuring brain and other activity, and each session was followed by a questionnaire to assess the level of anxiety in participants.

As expected, subjects who slept less had an increased anxiety response to viewing those disturbing videos. Brain scans showed complete inhibition of the prefrontal cortex, which generally keeps stress and anxiety in check. Additionally, emotional centers in the brain were overactive.

More importantly, after a night full of sleep, anxiety levels dropped significantly. And there was a positive correlation with deep sleep, meaning that participants who experienced more deep sleep had lower anxiety levels.

These findings show that deep sleep is essential for both the prevention and mediation of stress and anxiety.

Researchers managed to replicate their results in another similar study with 30 participants, where participants who got the most deep sleep also experienced the lowest anxiety levels the following day.

Additionally, researchers conducted an online study following 280 subjects for four days and tracking their anxiety levels. The results were similar to previous studies. But interestingly, even the slightest changes in deep sleep affected the anxiety levels.

All these findings support the argument that sleep recommendations should be a part of managing anxiety disorders. More importantly, sleep could be an excellent natural prevention for developing these conditions in the first place.

 

Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Dusan

Dusan is a biologist, a science enthusiast and a huge nature lover. He loves to keep up to date with all the new research and write accurate science-based articles. When he’s not writing or reading, you can find him in the kitchen, trying out new delicious recipes; out in the wild, enjoying the nature or sleeping in his bed.

Can Yoga Nidra Help You Sleep Better?

Yoga Nidra is an excellent way to relieve stress, relax, and sleep better at night.

Everyday life can be extremely stressful. Balancing your work, family, and tending to all responsibilities can be too much at times. As a result of that, our sleep can suffer. Stress has shown to affect the quality of our rest, and it is well known how important sleep is for every aspect of our lives. Lack of sleep leads to a series of mental and physical effects, such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, lack of focus, impaired learning ability, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and many more. To avoid that, you want to find some way to relieve stress, and doing yoga might be a good option to relax and sleep better. Yoga nidra or yogic sleep is a meditation technique that can be practiced by anyone, and its practitioners are claiming many benefits.

 

What Is Yogic Sleep?

Yoga nidra or yogic sleep is a state of deep relaxation achieved by its practitioner. Its goal is to enter the unconscious mind by entering a state of mind somewhere between wake and sleep. The experience is quite similar to hypnagogia, a dream-like feeling you experience while you are falling asleep. It is very common, and during this time your thoughts look like they are floating around, and you can have mild auditory or visual hallucinations. You might see or hear a certain shape or noise, or maybe your brain is producing a repetitive pattern of signals that you might find interesting. Unlike regular dreams that are usually coherent and you are an active member of them, these sensations are more passive, and you find yourself as an observer. Because of this, some people believe that hypnagogia enhances creativity, and they actively seek to experience it. For instance, Salvador Dali regularly tried to induce it, as he thought it helped his creative process and inspiration.

Yoga Nidra is just like the hypnagogic state, your mind is relaxed, your thoughts are floating around, and you forget about the everyday stressors. Classic meditation requires active involvement and being the master of your focus, which can sometimes be frustrating if you are not able to do so. In contrast, yoga nidra can be practiced by anyone, from children to seniors, it is much easier to master, and it usually involves auditory guidance, so you have something to focus on at all times.

 

Yogic Sleep vs. Normal Sleep

Some practitioners are claiming great benefits of yoga nidra, and they say that a 45-minute session can be equivalent to 3 hours sleep. There is no objective evidence to support this claim, so don’t think that anything can replace your nightly rest. Go for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, but you can incorporate yogic sleep to help you get rid of stress, as that is a part where it has proven benefits. With the regular practice, it can help you get better quality sleep.

Your body and mind are deeply relaxed during the nightly slumber. You are unconscious and most of the time unaware that you are sleeping. In contrast, while you are awake, you are very well aware of everything that is happening around you, and you are receiving and experiencing external stimuli continuously. The goal of yoga nidra is to access the middle of those states, a stage where you are profoundly calm and relaxed, while still maintaining consciousness and being alert to your surroundings.

Parts of your brain are emitting specific patterns of brain waves that can be picked up by the EEG. Betta waves are a characteristic of a wake state, but as you start to relax, your brain waves change as well and shift to alpha state. These waves are usually found on the transition between wake and sleep, but they can also be achieved when you are most relaxed. As you enter light sleep, your brain waves start to slow down, and theta waves are dominant here. Finally, as you reach deep sleep, your brain is producing delta waves, the slowest of them all. What’s interesting about yoga nidra is that the brain scans of those practicing it showed a mixture of specific brain waves for both sleeping and wake state. And this makes sense considering that they are trying to achieve that state between being conscious and asleep.

 

Benefits of Yoga Nidra

Yoga nidra is meant to evoke the feeling of calm, relaxation, and peacefulness. Ideally, you should feel more grounded and restored after the session. Like meditation, visualization and other kinds of yoga practice, it is a spiritual experience that should bring some benefits to your life. It is supposed to relieve stress and make you feel like you can get easier control of your life by better controlling your emotions and well-being. Sometimes it is enough to just sit back for some time, and ease your mind from going all over the place. You might feel more alert and focused afterward, or the session might leave you feeling like you are more connected to the people and the world around you.

Numerous studies are looking into the benefits of yoga nidra, and the results are mostly positive. One such study from 2012 looked into the impact that yogic sleep had on female subjects experiencing anxiety and depression symptoms due to menstrual disorder. The group of 150 females was randomly divided into two groups. One group practiced yoga nidra, while the control group didn’t, and they wanted to see the effects. The results are that the mild and moderate symptoms of anxiety and depression significantly improved in the group practicing yogic sleep. However, it didn’t have the same observable effect in individuals who suffered from severe symptoms.

Similar findings were observed in a study done one year earlier. After six months of practicing yoga nidra, women were experiencing fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, and they generally had a more positive outlook on life and also rated their well-being higher.

A 2014 study, researchers wanted to look into how yogic practice affects blood glucose levels and stress in nursing students. One group has taken yogic exercise for 60 minutes weekly, for 12 weeks. It consisted of two parts; the first part was the active yogic exercise, while the second part was relaxation (yoga nidra). The results after 12 weeks were reduced stress, as well as lower blood sugar levels in medical students with yogic intervention.

A 2016 study looked into the benefits of easing menstrual irregularity symptoms. One hundred women were recruited and divided into two groups, where one practiced yoga nidra for six months, while the other didn’t. The results were consistent with the previous research, the group with the yogic intervention showed improved symptoms of anxiety and depression, women felt more positive about their well-being, and they also had better health and general vitality scores, as well as more balanced hormonal levels. The control group used medications to fight off menstrual symptoms, but they showed no difference at the beginning and after six months of observation. That means that yoga nidra could potentially be used as an alternative to relieving menstrual symptoms, but more valid research is needed to confirm this.

One study looked into effects yogic sleep could have on adolescents. Thirty-six students aged 13-15 had 30-minute sessions three times a week for a month. After that period, participants reported improvement in the feelings of happiness, enthusiasm, being more inspired, alert, active, having more control over negative emotions such as anger, and being more confident.

Keep in mind that all of these studies have certain limitations. They all have small sample sizes, most have undergone some kind of preselection of the participants, and in most of them, all of the subjects were female. Although they do show positive benefits, there needs to be more research done in this area with bigger sample sizes, without the preselection of the candidates, and with the more objective methods of evaluating the results of studies.

 

How To Practise Yogic Sleep?

If you want to practice yoga nidra by yourself, you can look for the nearby studios or workshops, as it has become quite popular. There is also a ton of videos online if you feel more comfortable doing it at home. You can also try one of the many apps that provide guided meditation including yoga nidra.

This is what a typical yoga nidra session looks like:

  1. First, you lay down on your back with your arms stretched beside your body. Be free to use blankets, cushions, or blocks to make yourself as comfortable as possible. Close your eyes.
  2. The start of relaxation begins through breathing exercises. You can try the alternate nostril breathing technique, or simply inhaling and exhaling more deeply while holding hands on your chest and belly. While focusing on your breath, your mind and body can slow down and become calmer.
  3. Keep in mind that the goal of yoga nidra is to stay alert while achieving a state of deep relaxation, but don’t worry if you fall asleep.
  4. Now is to do some recognition of your muscles and body parts. Start from the left side and gradually go to the right. First, move your left pinky toe, then go through your legs, body and all the way to facial muscles. By systematically moving and then relaxing your muscles, you become more grounded, and you allow your body and mind to become calmer. Go through this process as quickly as you can, but don’t force yourself as the goal is to remain calm. You can repeat step 4 as long as you want, and then when you feel relaxed enough, you can proceed to the next stage.
  5. Visualize a place that you consider beautiful, and let your senses explore it entirely. For some people, this is a beach with waves hitting the rocks, a beautiful garden with the intense smell of flowers, deep forest with lots of birds chirping, or simply a relaxing campfire in the evening with a sky full of stars.
  6. Embrace the surroundings, set a positive affirmation for yourself, and after feeling optimal, slowly come back to your surroundings.

You can take as much time as you need, but it is usually recommended that your sessions last between 20 and 45 minutes to let your body relax fully. You can do these sessions before the bedtime to help you unwind and fall asleep more easily, or you could do them in the morning or any other part of the day when you feel like you have too much on your plate, and need to calm yourself down.

 

Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Tamara

A wannabe journalist who somehow ended up as an art historian. She is a gamer, a coffee addict and a sleep aficionado. When she is not researching about sleep and finding out new ways to fight off the insomnia beast, she's spending time with her friends, gaming or visiting local museums.

Sleeping Alone vs. Snoozing with a Partner

Many couples are probably wondering is it better to sleep alone or with your better half. Well, the answer to this question is far from a simple “yes” or “no”. In order to make a definitive conclusion, we have decided to compare sleeping alone vs. with snoozing with your partner. First, let’s take a look at the advantages of catching ZZZs with your significant other.

Many couples (especially those who are having a hard time to catch ZZZs together) are probably wondering is it better to sleep alone or with your better half. Well, the answer to this question is far from a simple “yes” or “no”.  In order to make a definitive conclusion, we have decided to compare sleeping alone vs. with snoozing with your partner. First, let’s take a look at the advantages of catching ZZZs with your significant other.

Why Should You Sleep with Your Sweetheart?

No many studies have been conducted on the subject, but most of them show that sharing your bed with someone has a positive influence on your health and sleep quality. For example, a study carried out at the University of Pittsburgh in 2009 by a professor of psychiatry and psychology, showed that women with partners sleep better than single women. The study specifically suggested that women in happy relationships and long-term marriages experience fewer sleep disturbances than single woman. It is also interesting to mention that generally, all the research we could found on the topic indicates that the psychological benefits of sleeping with a partner outweigh common co-sleeping troubles.

A recent study indicated that people who share their sleeping space (either by snoozing together in a bed or the same room) feel safer and less anxious. However, the science behind this research is still new, and there are yet a lot of things that need to thoroughly checked and examined before making such a conclusion. What we know so far is that sharing your sleeping space lowers the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and maybe even reduces the levels of cytokines in the body which are responsible for inflammation. Co-sleeping may also boost your levels of oxytocin, known as the love hormone.

Health Benefits of Sleeping Next to Someone You Love

It helps you fall asleep faster. When you are alone in mind, it’s more challenging to relax. For example, if you had a hard day at work, when laying alone in bed, you could quickly start overthinking. However, when you’re sharing the bed with someone you love, it gives you a sense of security, allowing your body to relax much easier.

It lessens your stress levels. As mentioned in the beginning, studies have shown that when you’re sharing a bed with your bae, your cortisol levels drop, and oxytocin levels increase. Apart from relaxing and drifting off to the dreamland faster, lower stress levels reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other severe chronic illnesses.

It reduces body inflammation. We also briefly mentioned that research suggested the levels of cytokines in your body also decreases. Cytokines, apart from causing inflammation, also cause pain. Therefore, another warm body in bed and a bit of cuddling is a natural pain reliever.

It lowers your blood pressure. Researchers from the University of North California have found out that women who slept and received regular cuddles from their partners had increased oxytocin levels and lower blood pressure. According to dr. David Hamilton, oxytocin works as a natural angina medication and helps to minimize the constriction in the blood vessels.

It promotes ideal sleeping conditions. If you tend to get chilly at night, the warmth of your bae can help keep you snug as a bug. When you have the perfect sleeping conditions with someone next to you, you can also enjoy the best quality of sleep. Waking up refreshed in the morning will make you feel more positive and ready to face the day ahead.

It improves your immune system. Sleeping with your partner and making love boost your immune system. According to the experts from Wilkes University in Pennsylvania, couples who are regularly intimate have a stronger immune system and have better chances of fighting the flu or common colds because they release more antibodies that make them healthier.

It slows down aging. Scottish neuropsychologist Dr. David Weeks has conducted a research and found out that regular quality cuddle time and lovemaking can make you look ten years younger.

You become in sync with your partner. If you and your bae go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, your circadian rhythms will sync, and you will basically become each other’s social timekeepers. According to studies, this synchronicity shows how much couples are satisfied in their relationship.

The physical closeness improves your relationship. Lastly, research carried out at the University of Hertfordshire that studies the effects of physical contact during sleep among couples concluded close physical relationship, cuddling and lying in bed close to one another strengthens couple’s relationship and helps them to bond.

Couple Sleep Problems

Most sleeping problems experienced by couples can, fortunately, be settled if you communicate well and respect each other sleeping needs. So, what are the biggest struggles couples face when snoozing together? According to our research, most partners have troubles sharing a bed due to different sleep habits, different sleep patterns, and different sleep needs. For example, issues can quickly arise if a deep sleep and a light sleep share a bed, or if a night owl is dating an early bird. One partner’s health issues may affect the sleep quality of another partner. Basically, all of the couples’ differences can cause problems when sleeping together.

When you have been sleeping for a long time alone, suddenly sharing a bed may be troublesome. However, although it seems hard, you should be able to adapt to share your blanket and learn how to sleep with someone again.

Now let’s take a look at some of the most common couple sleep problems and how to solve them.

A Snoring bedmateSnoring is definitely the most common problem partner face when sharing a bed. Depending on what causes it, solutions may vary. If your sweetheart suffers from sleep apnea, he or she must get appropriate treatment.

Simple snoring is often positional, so waking up your partner to change his or her sleep position may help. For example, sleeping on your back will more likely cause snoring, while sleeping on the side should open up the crowded oropharynx and ensure proper breathing.

Using a special pillow, a neti pot, or anti-snoring mouthguard may also help both partners to sleep better and healthier. Losing excess weight and limiting alcohol consumption for the snoring partner is also recommended.

If that doesn’t help, allowing the non-snoring partner to fall asleep first might help (unless he or she isn’t a light sleeper). Earplugs, fans, white noise machines, or noise-canceling headphones could also be a lifesaver.

Tossing and turning. Tossing and turning barely happens without reason, so before kicking your bae out of bed, you should try to get to the root of the restlessness. This issue may be caused due to stress, anxiety, medication or even some sleep disorder such as restless legs syndrome. Rarely, restlessness is just that person’s normal sleep pattern. If that is your case, buying a special mattress that minimizes movement and eliminates noise should help. Also, it’s essential that you have a big bed. The bigger the bed, the fewer the chances you are to disturb your partner.

Stealing the covers. This problem is easily solved – just use separate covers. In case your sheets slide to the other side in the middle of the night, you could buy two beds and slide them next to each other, but make sure each one has its own pair of sheets. You can also place a big comforter over both of you, but in the middle of the night, your sheets won’t move. Problem solved.

Night Owl vs. early riser. If you and your significant other simply have different sleep patterns, and sleep/wake schedule, you shouldn’t force each other to sleep at the same time if one of you isn’t ready. The biggest problem is that this way you are missing a very important time in your relationship and that is spending time together in bed, cuddling and simply enjoying each other’s presence. Since this is an essential part of a healthy relationship, you should commit to these activities before the first partner is ready for sleep. Once your significant other drifts into the dreamland, you, the night owl, can get out of the bed and resume your nightly activities.

In order to successfully overcome this issue, you should really have a conversation about it. People are very protective of their sleep, and when they are not sleeping well, they are not feeling good. A small change of habits such as using an eye mask (for the early bird) or using a night light (for the night owl) can significantly help.

Nighttime tech use. Your bedroom should a sleep sanctuary and a haven for couples, meaning there is no place for electronics and nighttime tech use. Having smartphones, computers, TVs and similar tech in the bedroom and interacting with them close to bedtime may severely disturb your sleep in two ways – by stimulating your brain, and suppressing the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. If you like to use electronics before bed, set up a docking station for your gadgets that’s outside the bedroom.

Don’t forget that you need a buffer between work and bed and that work-related activities and technology on your nightstand brings work and stress into the bedroom, making peaceful sleep more challenging to come than it should.

Sleep Temperature Preferences. Generally speaking, it’s healthier to sleep in a comfortably cool than warm environment. Although most people prefer to sleep in chillier bedrooms, some like to keep it toasty. If one partner is shivering while the other one is sweating, this is a major issue.  

So, how can you solve this issue? According to experts, the recommended temperature for sleep is somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees in the evenings. Your bedroom temperature should be set to the cooler rather than the warmer side for a simple reason – because it’s easier to get warmer than to get cooler. If you are the partner that gets chilly at night, try warming yourself up by wearing socks, using a thicker blanker or even getting a heating pad for your side of the bed.

If you are a hot sleeper, the best way to stay cool without affecting your bae is to sleep with your feet outside of the blankets. If that doesn’t help, try sleeping naked or put a fan on your side on the bed.

Mattress preferences. Finding a perfect mattress for yourself is definitely not easy. Now imagining the double trouble when you have to find a bed that suits both you and your significant other. Depending on your body type, sleeping position and style, you are going to have different needs.

Similarly, to the problem with room temperature, it’s easier to make your mattress softer than it is to make it harder. So, opt for a firmer mattress, and when you get home, modify it by adding a foam topper to the one side. Fortunately, many mattress industries have recognized this common couple sleep problem and developed special mattresses for couples, which include adjustable and multiple firmness levels.

Sleeping with pets. Can’t sleep without cuddling your pet? This can be a problem if your bae doesn’t share the same attitude. If one person just can’t stand animals in the bed while the other person can’t sleep without their pet, you have a real problem. The solution for this issue lies in quality communication and compromise within the relationship. Both sides need to understand each other and adapt. For example, if you have to sleep with your pet, instead of cuddling with it, train them to stay at the end of the bed, so they don’t disturb your partner’s sleep. Trying to get your little furry friend to sleep in a pet bed or on the floor rather than sleeping with you and your significant other is also a viable solution.

Keep in mind that sleeping with your pet may have mental health benefits for you, but’s it’s not good for your physical health and it’s not hygienic. Change sheets at least every week and keep good airflow in the room to eliminate pet dander, bad smells and reduce the risk of allergies.

Sleeping naked – A Big Yes or a No-No? Sure, getting naked in bed with your significant other sounds great because it indicates standard sexy time protocol. However, not everyone likes to sleep naked. While some people enjoy sleeping au natural, others aren’t so enthusiastic about seeing a bare booty first thing in the morning. Like in the previous case, the solution is to talk with your partner, especially if one of you truly feel uncomfortable. Sleeping naked brings multiple benefits to your mental and physical health, so you should be encouraged to try it out. If you are concerned about hygiene, regularly change your sheets and take a shower before climbing into bed in your birthday suit.

How to Peacefully Sleep with Your Partner?

The benefits of sleeping next to someone you love outweigh the drawbacks, but that doesn’t mean your sleep quality should suffer if you can’t come to an agreement or solution. When nothing really works, you should consider sleeping in different beds or rooms. For many couples, the time right before sleep is most vital to a relationship, and not the slumber itself. In case you have to snooze separately, don’t forget to nurture this part of your relationship and find a way to maintain the closeness and intimacy in that interval right between day and night.

Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Marijana

She would be a morning person if mornings started at noon. Art historian, taurus, coffee lover, traveler, F1 fan who hates to drive, and well experienced insomniac with one life goal, to sleep like a coala for up to 20 hours per day.

Sleeping With Socks On

When it comes to sleeping with your socks on, opinions are strongly divided, people either love it or hate it. Some sleep better with socks on while others have troubles falling asleep if they are wearing socks.

When it comes to sleeping with your socks on, opinions are strongly divided, people either love it or hate it, they cannot imagine sleeping without them or cannot understand why anyone would sleep with them on. Wearing socks to bed is an age-old ongoing debate, and since people are usually very opinionated about it, so you might skip this topic if you are hanging out with your friends or at a family dinner because things can escalate quickly.

Socks have until recently been pretty neglected in terms of fashion, they were probably the only part of clothing without any particular innovations or progress, but the wheel of fashion has turned again, and socks are now trending. Basic socks were mostly hidden inside of the shoes, but nowadays socks are designed to be seen and spice the outfit. However, it does not mean that they are gladly seen in bed.

One survey showed that around 44% of Americans think that it is horrible to sleep in socks, 29% have mixed feelings about it, and 28% love it. Regardless of the group you identify yourself with, keep up reading to see what science has to say about this intriguing topic.

 

A Sleep Inducing Trick?

Those who prefer sleeping with their socks on like to point out that cozy and warm feeling when they go to bed in socks, but is there a scientific explanation or something more behind that? According to the latest news, sleeping with socks might have its advantages.

The thing is, nobody likes the feel of cold feet, not even those who despise the idea of wearing socks in bed. Some people are more sensitive to the cold and feel the slightest temperature drop on their skin, but most of us face cold feet during winter months, and that is not a pleasant experience. Except for that, cold feet can keep us awake and be the cause of many restless nights, because when they are cold, our blood vessels are constricted which causes lower blood circulation. And what is the easiest way to solve that? Wearing socks, of course! The temperature of our body is regulated by the circadian rhythm or internal clock, which controls the timing of our bedtime. During the daytime, the body temperature rises, reaching its peak during the afternoon when we feel most awake, but then as we prepare for sleep the temperature drops from 1 to 2 degrees, and it reaches its lowest point around 4 AM.

Once the cold feet get warmer, our blood vessels will go wider and cause vasodilation, which signals to our brain that it is time for rest. When the blood vessels are open in feet and hands, the heat is spread evenly across the body to prepare it for sleep. Researches have shown that the higher vasodilation in feet and hands will make us fall asleep faster, so maybe that is the reason why people believe that placing a bottle of hot water close to the feet is good for sleep.

Socks in bed may not be the most pleasant thing, but neither is the cold feet. The best materials for socks are natural fibers such as cashmere or merino wool, they will cost you more than the average cotton or polyester socks, but they are worth it. Just be sure that they are not too tight or tick, because if they are they can hinder the blood circulation by constricting the blood vessels, and hinder the proper warming of your feet leaving them semi cold. Socks for sleeping should be medium thickness, and breathable, compression socks should not be worn in bed unless a doctor advised you to do so. Although they are known for enhancing the circulation, compression socks are not meant to be used while you are laying down because then they can block the blood flow.

 

Why Should I Sleep With Socks On?

The main advantage of sleeping with socks on is the fact that it will heat the feet and induce sleep. If you are not having problems with cold feet, here are some other reasons why you should consider sleeping with socks and how it can be beneficial for you.

 

Can Kids Sleep With Socks On?

One thing can lead any debate to the boiling point, and those are the kids, add them in, and it all goes on another level. Parents are sometimes overprotective and worry too much, but when it comes to infants and children, there is no reason why they should not sleep with their socks on, it is only essential that they are made from natural materials and that they are not tight. With kids, it is best to avoid heat socks or any heat inducer such as an electric blanket. A nice warm bath will do the trick and make them sleepy right on time. Socks or no socks, parents should always pay attention to their child to see if it is overheating, sweating or flushing, remove blankets and change their clothes quickly.

Babies are more sensitive so it is important that the layer of clothes which touches their skin is from cotton. Their onesies or socks should not be from wool for example. Not all babies will enjoy the feel of socks on their feet during the night, so parents need to pay attention and not put any unnecessary layer of clothes on their baby. If you notice that the baby’s palms and soles are warm or sweating, remove the socks or booties, sweating and discomfort will make the baby cranky and upset.

Overheating has been recognized as one of the causes of SIDS, which is why parents should never exaggerate with the amount of layer they put on their child, including socks.

Recently, many smart clothing products popped up on the market, and smart socks are one of them. It is claimed that they will monitor baby’s vital signs, but doctors and scientists are warning that there is no actual evidence about the efficiency of these smart devices and that they can cause more harm than benefit.

 

Side Effects of Wearing Socks While Sleeping

Considering how many people hate wearing socks to bed, there have to be some disadvantages that support their point of view, and that is our next topic.

 

Tips For Anti Sock Sleepers On How To Warm Up Their Feet

Some people fear that wearing socks to bed is unhygienic, they believe that it might cause them to overheat and wake up during the night due to sweaty feet, but others just do not find it comfortable enough. We wear socks for the most of our day, and at night our feet can finally be free to breathe and be bare, so if wearing socks is still not an option for you, do not worry, there are plenty of alternative ways to deal with icy cold feet.

 

DIY Heat Pad

Filling up the plastic bottle with hot water is a widely spread DIY solution for heat pads; the only downside is that the water will eventually cool down. You need to place it in your bed around 15 minutes before you lay down, so that it will remain warm. But, there is one more highly popular DIY project which is more suitable for today’s topic since it includes socks, and it is called rice socks.

For this DIY project, you will need one pair of socks from natural fibers, and around ½ cup of rice. Simply pour all the rice in one sock and tie a knot at the end, place this sock into the other one and tie its end too. This sock-pad is meant to be heated up in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, but keep an eye on it because it can sometimes start to smoke. You will be surprised how long it can retain the heat, and it can be used for your feet, neck, or any other area.

 

Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Tanya Hodgson

Tanya is a professional writer and editor with a B.A. in English from the University of Chicago. Tanya has been fighting insomnia for most of her adult life, and she knows firsthand how vital a good night’s rest can be for people with sleep problems.

Best Plants for Sleep

The list we’ve prepared for you below will go over the top 10 houseplants that induce sleep and act as “natural” sleeping aids. Reading this will give you into why and how can certain houseplants help you in your quest towards better sleep.

Breathing in and breathing out – the very core of life itself. The air we breathe indoors can have a significant impact on a lot of different aspects of our health, but most importantly, it can affect our beauty sleep. Just think about it for a second. All the cars, factories and a dozen other things all generating polluted air that gets in through your window. We should even consider man himself as a source of indoor air pollution, mainly when he dwells in a closed off, poorly ventilated area.

Well, now that we’ve got you all concerned about maintaining your sleeping hygiene, it’s prime time to ask us what you can do to help purify the air in your bedroom naturally. It’s simple, actually. Instead of putting your phone on the nightstand, put a houseplant on it! Certain houseplants not only help you maintain fresh air in your environment, but they go a long way in calming you down, thus helping you fall asleep faster. The list we’ve prepared for you below will go over the top 10 houseplants that induce sleep and act as “natural” sleeping aids. Reading this will give you into why and how can certain houseplants help you in your quest towards better sleep.

Without further ado, let’s give it a whirl. 

How did we figure this out? 

Among the first studies to embark on an expedition to discover what houseplants can do for our environment and overall health was the NASA study done in 1989. They thought of it like this – if a man’s bare existence on this planet depends upon an intertwined connection with nature and the ecological system, then problems will occur when a man starts living the “civilized” life and isolate himself in solitaries and buildings.  They sought out a solution, and that came with the bright idea to test houseplants as a possible way of improving indoor air quality and remove traces of organic pollutants from the air. The study went great, and they concluded that houseplants are one of the most promising means of alleviating in-door pollution, be it cigarette smoke or any other airborne pathogen. NASA well reminds us of our dependence on plants for our continued prosperity and well-being on our planet.

Following in their footsteps to uncover more benefits houseplants have on our health, the Journal of Physiological Anthropology wrote an article on the never-breaking link between indoor houseplants and mental health. Since the technological revolution allows us to connect and remain connected with each other through a computer environment, we tend to forget that being in interaction with nature is the key to overall holistic health. Moreover, our 24-hour access to technology causes a great deal of psychological stress, causing fatigue, anxiety, and faulty sleeping patterns. Since the interaction with plants helps relieve the psychological symptoms of hectic lives we lead today, they will also help you get better and calmer sleep. 

If we add a study that set out to prove that houseplants can improve the rehabilitation process in patients recovering from surgery, we are confident you won’t have any doubts of introducing plants to your bedroom that not only calm you down, but induce sleep as well. The study found that patients that had the pleasure of interacting with a houseplant or two reported a range of benefits – from less pain and anxiety to positive feelings and better sleep.

Now that we’ve sorted out that houseplants not only aid in repelling indoor pollution but induce sleep too, we believe it’s time to list out the top 10 plants that just might help you get rid of any sleeping issues and the stress bad sleep comes with. 

Top 10 Plant that Induce Sleep

 

 

We know – the feeling that you get from a restless night is quite aggravating. You try so hard to fall asleep.  You twist, and you turn in your bed, and just as you finally reach a dream-like state, you wake up again. If that happens all too often, we suggest you try putting a lavender plant on your nightstand. Appreciated for its pleasant scent and calming effects, lavender is a kind of houseplant that can induce sleep and help you towards insomnia-ridden, good ol’ beauty sleep. 

In fact, a 2013 study in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine explored the idea that lavender aromatherapy can significantly impact the quality of your sleep for the better. What they found is that lavender has a number of therapeutic properties, from helping you to relax to treating infections, burns, insect bites, and much more. To top that off, growing evidence suggests that lavender oil may be an efficient cure when it comes to mental health, and even treat several neurological disorders. Finally, we come to the million-dollar conclusion – lavender not only induces sleep and helps fight off restless nights and insomnia, but it will do a thing or two to stabilize your mood as well. 

 

While true scientific evidence that valerian helps you sleep still eludes us, this plant boasts a long history of usage for its sleep-promoting effects. Going back thousands of years to Galen’s practice in Ancient Greece tells us he personally prescribed valerian to treat insomnia. It doesn’t stop there. Valerian has been part of our culture as a plant that promotes quality sleep. Actually, it is being used as part of all sorts of different dietary supplements and herbal remedies you can find on the market today. 

While it seems valerian is popular with the people as a plant that promotes quality sleep, a study in Sleep Medicine Reviews’ journey states that valerian is safe to use, but not nearly as effective as we thought it to be. On the other hand, the study in Chemical Senses’ journal wanted to determine would the plant have a beneficial effect in inducing sleep if used as an odorant and inhalant. While the study doesn’t say if the plant helped people fall asleep quicker, it says a thing or two about helping people sleep better.  

While we are unable to take sides at this moment and tell you who’s right and who’s not, we’ll tell you this much – It certainly won’t hurt your sleep one bit to have valerian on your nightstand. 

 

 

According to a study in the journal Molecular Medicine Reports, chamomile has amazing medicinal properties. The plants’ dried flowers are rich in terpenoids and flavonoids, which give it its medicinal properties. The herb is used to treat various ailments, such as insomnia. 

Chamomile has been used as a medicinal plant for centuries. Since the most popular use of chamomile is stress and anxiety management, the very soothing nature of this plant can help increase the levels of serotonin and melatonin in your body. And we all know what happens when we have a high melatonin count, don’t we? Right you are! When it’s given as an aqueous extract, it goes a long way in inducing sleep, thus treating insomnia and irregular sleeping patterns. It will help you sleep no matter the form of it, actually. Prepare it as a tea, use it as aromatherapy – you will experience the calm chamomile comes with. 

 

 

If Ancient Egyptians claim Aloe Vera to be ‘the plant of immortality’, we wholeheartedly believe them. Known for its multiple medicinal properties, this plant is well, just ancient. It’s been around for thousands of years helping us overcome our maladies. 

The interesting thing about Aloe Vera is that it doesn’t directly do anything to help induce sleep. What it does do is purify the air around you, and it does that extraordinarily well. This plant will act as your bodyguard against the harmful toxins that float around you, thus improving the quality of the air while you sleep. 

To back this up with some science, we’ve consulted an article that explored how aloe vera impacts the sleep of rats. The article showed that this plant has some sedative and hypnotic effects in rodents. More importantly, the article contains a reference to another research where topical moisturizer made from this amazing plant was used to treat patients with skin conditions. Interestingly enough, all the people in the study said their sleep improved by 100 percent. 

Who knew we could fight insomnia with fresher air? 

 

Since Chinese Evergreens are popular amongst houseplants, we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s already sitting in your living room’s corner. But, did you ever think about moving it into your bedroom if restlessness and insomnia ever creep in on you? 

Studies show that Chinese Evergreens do great in purifying the air in your environment. As we discussed it earlier in this post, the better the quality of the air we breathe in our bedroom, the better we can sleep. Following this line of logic, Chinese Evergreens are another type of houseplants that help induce sleep. 

 

Not only does English Ivy climb mountains to purify the air of toxins, but it will also go the distance to reduce mold spores in the air. While people with allergies will undoubtedly want this plant in their home, people looking to improve their irregular sleeping patterns and insomnia will also see a lot of benefits from it. Since it can be conveniently placed in smaller areas out of reach, English ivy makes for an ideal bedroom companion. 

 

Rated as one of the best houseplants for purifying the air by NASA, Peace lilies detoxify the air of pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. It’s actually been found that this plant can improve air quality by as much as 60 percent. 

To top it all off, Peace lilies will bloom even if they don’t get enough light, making them an excellent choice for bedrooms with smaller windows. 

Being another plant that’s used to purify the air and improve indoor air quality, the Snake plant is a sturdy, easy to care for plant. The way it works when it comes to helping people sleep is that it releases oxygen at night time while simultaneously absorbing carbon dioxide. Last, but not least it filters air pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene from the air. All of this helps you breathe easily, therefore adding it in your bedroom will go a long way in establishing regular sleeping patterns and better sleep. 

NASA’s study on how to tackle indoor pollution that decreases the air quality in your house, clearly states Golden Pothos as one of the houseplants your sleep can benefit from. Not only does it purify the air, it looks amazing and is easy to care for. You only need to water it weekly and give a few hours of sunlight a day. With its ability to produce oxygen at night, it can help you breathe better, thus sleep soundly and with a smile on your face. 

California poppy has been traditionally used as an analgesic, sedative and sleeping aid for a while now. The study in European Medicines Agency’s journal backs the tradition up and indicates that this plant can be used in the management of chronic pain and as a hypnotic-mild-sedative for the management of pain-related insomnia. With its various therapeutic properties, we deem this plant as one of the best plants to have on your nightstand. 

Takeaway 

Well, this concludes it. These are the best plants to aid you in your quest towards better sleep. Whether you choose just one or all then to have in your bedroom, we are positive on the fact that they will have a beneficial effect on your nighttime journey to dreamland. 

Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Tamara Smith


The Connection Between Loneliness and Sleep

Loneliness can negatively impact your sleep and can arise from a lack of sleep. It can contribute to different sleep disorders and other sleep-related issues.

Mental health is just as important as physical health when it comes to establishing a healthy, sensible sleeping schedule (and in general). Anxiety and stress are notorious sleep-killers that contribute to different sleep disorders and other sleep-related issues. However, the level of a person’s physical health and well-being is much more obvious than their mental state, especially since a lot of us treat hiding our emotions and anxiety as a part of “adult behavior.” It can be hard to get an accurate psychological reading on someone because the field isn’t as exact as anatomy.

Humans are social creatures and thus susceptible to loneliness – the feeling of being socially abandoned and alone, which often comes with negative interpretations of social scenarios and similar issues. Much like depression (which it is often associated with), loneliness can negatively impact your sleep and can arise from a lack of sleep, which makes it a vicious cycle that leads to more and more daily fatigue and further problems. In this article, we will go over how loneliness and sleep are connected, so you can make informed decisions when seeking medical intervention and following your doctor’s guidelines. Let’s get into it.

Note: If you’re dealing with sleep deprivation regularly, start tracking your sleep as soon as possible. A good sleep journal is crucial in helping your doctor create an accurate diagnosis. Write down when you fall asleep, when you wake up, how often you wake up during the night, how tired you feel in the evening and morning, and every similar piece of information.

 

How It All Works – A Study Examination

Sleep deprivation is the most common consequence of every sleeping disorder, and it is a constant looming problem in our daily lives in general. It’s incredibly easy to become sleep-deprived, as all it takes is a single night of sub-optimal rest to rack up a considerable amount of “sleep debt” and suffer the consequences of fatigue and excessive daytime sleepiness. Ask any working adult you know about their experiences with daily fatigue, and you may even hear workplace accident horror stories because fatigue affects you in many negative ways, including but not limited to:

Worst of all, the ways we try to “make up for lost time” and deal with sleep deprivation are not usually healthy. There is a thin line between useful and healthy daytime naps and a ruined sleep schedule that loops the problem back into fatigue, causing escalating health issues.

The part we are most interested in when it comes to sleep deprivation is its social outcome or manifestation. Someone who is irritable, exhausted and unfocused is likely to avoid social interactions and naturally develop a sense of loneliness, especially if the sleep deprivation is chronic or similarly severe. A study was done recently on how sleep deprivation leads to social withdrawal and eventually causes loneliness, and the researchers conducted a handful of exercises to explore this theory. One of the exercises included footage of a person approaching the viewer with a neutral expression on their face.

The subjects were told to press a button when the person gets too close for comfort. This was done with well-rested and sleep-deprived subjects, and the results were clear – sleep-deprived people stopped the recording anywhere between 20-60% earlier than well-rested subjects. It didn’t stop there, either. Brain scans of all involved subjects showcased a different set of patterns between well-rested and fatigued brains. The most important result is that the section of their brain responsible for social interaction was nearly completely inactive when they were under sleep deprivation – but their threat response section was lit up, indicating that exhausted people feel at least mildly threatened by the prospect of social scenarios.

The study didn’t end there. The subjects were asked to rate their own feelings of loneliness, once after having a good rest the previous night, and once while sleep-deprived. Their ratings were much more negative when they were tired, which made sense given the previous results. The next step was recruiting participants via the Amazon Mechanical Turk to view footage of recorded conversations involving the original subjects. The new participants were tasked to rate the subjects based on their level of perceived loneliness and social desirability. The results were clear – sleep-deprived individuals were considered less socially desirable (meaning that the viewers were less interested in interacting with them) than rested ones.

So what does all this mean? It’s quite easy to understand – sleep deprivation makes the person in question much less willing to engage in social interaction because they see other people as a threat, at least to a small extent. Largely because of this, other people are more inclined to consider them socially undesirable or repulsive, which creates a scenario of social isolation and eventually leads to feelings of loneliness. This problem is severe enough that loneliness is considered a public health crisis by experts. A whopping 46% percent of people in the United States experience loneliness either sometimes or always. Not only that but their mortality risk increases by as much as 30%, often depending on other biological factors.

Obviously, not every lonely person is sleep deprived; it’s not a 1-1 correlation. But with how sleep deprivation is creeping into every corner of our society, it may not be far from the truth. Both sleep deprivation and social isolation have negative consequences for your health. Because of this, loneliness is considered a potential contributing factor to a number of sleeping disorders, since it’s closely linked with stress, anxiety, and depression. This means that sleep deprivation and loneliness frequently lead into each other, making it very hard to break out of the vicious cycle and fix your health problems and work performance. It takes a considerable amount of effort to maintain good social relations with people if you’re chronically sleep-deprived, as your desire to interact with them drops, making you less fun to be around. Make sure to contextualize it all properly in your head – being isolated is not normal, and if you sleep poorly, it is a huge reason why you’re feeling lonely. The sooner you can set your schedule straight, the sooner you can fix your social life.

Fixing your sleep schedule is done by a variety of methods. We recommend consulting your doctor about your sleeping problems, as they’re equipped to prescribe methods that will work the best for your specific needs. Not everyone responds to every treatment method optimally, so make sure you know what you’re getting into. A simple bedtime routine or planned physical workouts can drastically reduce sleep onset latency and let you get proper rest, which can alleviate the feelings of loneliness and social anxiety. A diet plan is not only useful for healthy sleep, but it brings a whole host of other benefits when it comes to your physical well-being. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind, so all these small changes to your lifestyle can contribute a lot to a positive mental state. Include relaxation exercises such as yoga, meditation and breathing exercises into the mix if you are still experiencing issues. If you have a sleep disorder (or even suspect you have one), get it checked out by signing up for polysomnography (with your doctor’s approval) and maintain a sleeping journal.

 

Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Dusan

Dusan is a biologist, a science enthusiast and a huge nature lover. He loves to keep up to date with all the new research and write accurate science-based articles. When he’s not writing or reading, you can find him in the kitchen, trying out new delicious recipes; out in the wild, enjoying the nature or sleeping in his bed.

Do Sleep Trackers Make You Sleep Worse?

Sleep trackers are useful pieces of technology that should help you learn more about your sleep. They can improve the quality and duration of sleep, and help you change bad sleep habits.

Last decade has been significant in a better understanding of how our nightly rest impacts every aspect of our daily life. Doctors now promote good sleep as a factor that is as important as exercise and diet for our overall health. Along with the more information available to the public, came the technology that was supposed to help you get the personalized information about your sleep habits. The importance of nightly rest made sleep trackers so popular, and the market is full of these gadgets.

But besides being a fancy little gadget, is there any benefit in using sleep trackers? Do they provide accurate information about your sleep or are they just showing some standard measurements? Can sleep trackers negatively affect your rest and health?

 

How Do Sleep Trackers Work?

Sleep trackers are useful pieces of technology that should help you learn more about your sleep. They can be in the form of a smartphone app, a device that is usually wearable around your wrist, or special pads that you put on or under your mattress that track you throughout the night.

No matter what option you go for, sleep trackers should be able to tell you how long you slept during the night and how good your sleep was. That estimation is based on whether you have woken up during the night or if you’ve been tossing and turning around. Some devices can measure sound, and they can warn you if you are prone to snoring or if they notice any other sounds during the night that might be an indication of a sleep-related breathing disorder. Some claim that they can show you how much time you spend in the various stages of sleep: deep, light, and REM. You can check out the extensive review and our favorite sleep trackers.

This all sounds pretty useful, so how are they able to do that? There is a device called accelerometer embedded in the sleep tracking device, and it measures your movement. The principle behind tracking sleep is simple; lack of action means that you are sleeping. Unfortunately, that would mean that the device would think that you are sleeping even when you are laying down reading or watching television. Because of that, some devices track heart rate and combine the results to give you more accurate data about your sleep. Some sleep trackers also rely on infrared technology, and they can even track your respiration, which gives a useful additional set of information.

 

Are Sleep Trackers Accurate?

The thing that everybody is interested in is how accurate sleep trackers are. There is some research done on this subject, and the results are mixed. While it looks like sleep trackers can be pretty precise in determining whether you are sleeping or being awake in most cases, there is just no evidence that they are useful for determining how much time you spend in each stage of sleep. This is hard to decide based only on your body movements, as they are very similar in both deep and light sleep. There is an absence of action in the REM phase so that we don’t act out while we are dreaming, but our muscles might twitch which can be recognized as being awake. We also naturally turn around and move our body parts during the night, so that we maintain proper circulation in our body. This can be seen by the device as being awake and active.

To figure out which sleep stage you are in, you would need to measure your brain wave activity, and these devices can’t do that. To make things more complicated, it is not even important if your device precisely told you how much time you spent in each stage. Sleep is an individual activity, so these parameters vary based on many factors like your age, sex, race, and other demographic factors. A perfect rest for a 70-year old would be rated as terrible by a 20-year-old, so don’t think much about it. Just learn to recognize your body’s needs, and if you are feeling well-rested in the morning, it doesn’t matter what your sleep tracker says.

A 2011 study confirmed this when they looked at the abilities of wrist actigraphy. Actigraphy is a technique of measuring movement, and it is the essence of these devices. The method is good at determining total sleep time and night disturbances, and in combination with other sleep assessment tools can provide useful information about sleep patterns.

An article from 2013 looked into how wrist actigraphy compares to polysomnography, which is an overnight sleep study done in a laboratory by the professionals. It is used to detect sleep disorders and any problems with your sleep, and while it is currently our best option, researchers think that sleeping in a lab is not a natural environment and that it affects results as well. Like the previous study, they found that wrist actigraphy is useful in determining total sleep time and sleep disturbances.

The reviews of commercially available sleep trackers include Fitbit, Withings, Jawbone, and other popular brands. The results are all mostly similar. While they accurately describe total sleeping time, there is an inability of sleep trackers to determine time spent in each stage of sleep, and more importantly to recognize the symptoms of sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea. Some other reviews are more positive and say that with the continual progress of technology, we will soon be able to see highly accurate devices, which will save time for sleep specialists and make their job a little easier.

 

Are You Sleeping Worse Because of Your Sleep Tracker?

Your sleep tracker can be beneficial if you use it correctly. You can learn more about how long it takes you to fall asleep if you have any nocturnal interruptions that you don’t remember in the morning, and how much you sleep on average. A data of a period of a month can tell you a lot about your habits, and if you fill out the questionnaire about your daily activities, you might also figure out what is causing your sleep problems. Many devices have these regular questionnaires where you state your actions, like exercise, alcohol consumption, stress, and other things that can affect your rest. This information is crucial in understanding your sleep habits and correcting them.

It all sounds pretty useful, but there is also a big downside for some users, and that is when psychology comes in play. A 2014 study researched the effects that placebo had on sleep and cognitive performance. The subjects in the study were told that the researchers were able to measure brain wave activity and determine how much time they spent in each stage of sleep. The researchers weren’t able to do that, and they randomly picked two groups, where they told that one had good quality sleep, and the other didn’t. Participants would rate their sleep before that, and this is when it gets interesting. Individuals who rated their sleep as good and were told by the researchers that the brain waves showed they didn’t sleep well, performed worse on tests measuring their cognitive ability. They acted so poorly that the results were actually similar as if they were sleep deprived. Inability to focus, concentrate, and form memories, learn things, and perform are all effects of sleep deprivation. These findings tell us that our minds are just so complex and that the attitude about sleep is essential to get sufficient rest.

Overthinking is the reason while sleep trackers can be problematic. People become so obsessed with getting sufficient sleep, sleeping correctly and the results that their devices show, that it has the opposite effect of what they want. Sleeping is a time of relaxation, and when you are thinking about how to get 8 hours of sleep or trying hard to fall asleep as fast as you can, it is the opposite of relaxation. It leads to increased stress and can even cause anxiety. It is important to remember, while these devices can be useful, you can’t completely rely on them. If your sleep tracker is showing you that you didn’t get enough deep or REM sleep, but you feel good and well-rested in the morning, believe your body. It is the best sign there is, and finding some stats on your phone more reliable than how you feel can make it seem like you are not getting sufficient sleep and that you are even suffering from a sleep disorder. People tend to overanalyze mild symptoms, and overthinking can also lead to insomnia that wasn’t there in the first place.

Researchers named this condition orthosomnia, and they describe it as the obsession with sleeping well so much, that it impairs the sleep quality. Orthorexia is a similar condition obsessing about eating well, where patients end up with terrible diet habits. They reported a few cases in this article, where the patients would see a doctor, and when the overnight study done by the professionals showed that they don’t have any sleep problems, they would dismiss those findings as their smartwatch showed otherwise. Waking up in the middle of the night and watching at your phone to see how well you are doing have terrible effects on your sleep. Screens emit blue light that tricks your brain into thinking that it is daytime, so whenever you are checking your phone at night, know that you are disrupting your natural rhythms.

 

How To Avoid the Negative Side of Sleep Trackers?

The usefulness of these devices depends on how you use them. Sleep trackers can help you stick to a regular schedule, get more sleep, and they can also give you useful personalized tips on how to improve your nightly rest. However, you need to remember that this is just a helpful tool that should benefit you. You should objectively observe the data that the sleep tracker provides, and you shouldn’t obsess and over-analyze the results.

The key is to recognize if a sleep tracker is doing more harm than good. Next step is to catch yourself during obsessive thoughts and take some action to make them go away. You can try meditation or finding a hobby that interests you, to keep your mind occupied, and to drift away from those negative thoughts.

If thinking about your sleeping results gives you stress and anxiety, maybe it’s time to throw away your sleep tracker for some time. To improve your nightly rest, you can try to maintain healthy sleep hygiene. Make a schedule where you go to bed and wake up at nearly the same time daily, create a relaxing sleeping routine, make your bedroom dark, quiet and cool, don’t use electronics half an hour before you go to bed, and remember to eat healthily and exercise regularly. Following these steps improves sleep quality in most people, and it can also be useful to you too, even more than some sleep gadget. If you experience sleep problems and disruptions regularly that make you fatigued and extensively sleepy during the day, you should see a doctor. They can refer you to a sleep facility, where they’ll do the overnight sleep study and determine what’s causing your sleep problems.

 

Scientifically reviewed by CountingSheep.net Team

Written by

Laura Garcia

Laura Garcia is a freelance writer based in Chicago. She holds degrees in writing from Drake University. When she’s not busy writing, Laura likes to spend as much as time as possible with her husband James and three-year-old son Elijah.

How Long Does it Take to Fall Asleep?

If the scenario turns out to be, it takes you somewhere between 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep, your sleep latency is just where it’s supposed to be. if you take an hour or even longer to fall asleep, you very well may have already fallen prey to sleep-onset insomnia.

With rapid turnabouts of circumstances, our dreams of living on a perfect day remain, well, just a dream. We stay up all night thinking of what to do in the morning and toil all day to figure out what we plan on doing during the night. But in our desperation to make that elusive perfect day happen, we forget that dreams begin with a good night’s sleep. 

Ironically enough, some of that constant thinking includes worrying about our sleep. We create our own kinds of ‘no-sleep-loops’ in which we constantly think about wishing we’d just fall asleep, which, paradoxically, stops us from actually falling asleep. You see, we’re in this constant bubble of worry while falling asleep thrives on a relaxed state of mind. 

In fact, up to 75% of people report worrying about their sleep at least some of the time, and nearly a quarter say they worry about it a lot and often. 

Yeah, it’s no wonder it takes you a while to get to the dream world… 

What is the Ideal Sleep Latency? 

You see, everything is good in moderation, and it’s no different for your sleep latency. Better known as sleep latency, the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep shouldn’t be on either side of the two extremes. 2 minutes to fall asleep? Far too quick. Three hours to fall asleep? Far too long. 

Let’s discuss this further. 

Give your average night some thoughts. How fast or how slow do you fall asleep? 

If the scenario turns out to be, it takes you somewhere between 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep, your sleep latency is just where it’s supposed to be – at the sweet spot, balanced. Taking between 10 to 20 minutes to go from full alertness and sink (dive) into the lightest stages of sleep is ideal. Whatever bedtime routine you are following or the morning exercise regime you’ve constructed that balanced your sleep latency out, keep with it.  

On the one hand, if you take an hour or even longer to fall asleep, you very well may have already fallen prey to sleep-onset insomnia. Being one of the most common sleep disorders, insomnia is described either as the difficulty to fall asleep, also known as sleep-onset insomnia, or the difficulty to stay asleep also known as sleep-maintenance insomnia. The symptoms have to persist for at least three times a week for a period of three months or longer in order to be diagnosed with insomnia. 

On the other hand, if your sleep latency allows you to fall asleep by the 5-minute mark, this quick of a sleep-onset can also be a sign that something is going on with your sleep and health. 

To help you figure out why you are experiencing irregular sleep-onset, we will have to discuss all the causes that can make a turmoil out of your sleep latency and all the effects that come along with it. 

Let’s get to work. 

Cause and Effect – Stress delays sleep-onset

While delayed sleep-onset does have a habit of developing in combination with other health conditions; diabetes, sleep apnea, or heart disease, the number one reason for it occurring is still worrisome thoughts. While these negative thoughts might just be a consequence of modern-day life taking its toll with all the stressors, they might also be a sign and a symptom of underlying anxiety or depression

The solution? 

Give your doctor a visit and discuss your options. Consult your doctor on any medication you are currently taking and check if there’s any medication he recommends to help you deal with delayed sleep-onset and insomnia. 

If you are currently on the couch and partaking in psychotherapy to manage your anxiety or depression, your therapist is a vast source of knowledge about all these therapeutic techniques that will help you deal with insomnia as well. 

Poor Sleep Hygiene Leads to Sleep-Onset Insomnia 

Cases have shown that the causes triggering sleep-onset insomnia can be much more benign. Something as simple as not paying attention to your sleep hygiene for a while can develop into something as problematic as sleep-onset insomnia. 

Since regularly drinking caffeine past the early afternoon, stuffing your stomach with huge meals late in the evening, or hitting that high-intensity workout at night can all mess with your sleep latency through over-energizing your system, do try to steer clear of these activities at given times. 

Furthermore, scrolling through Facebook or binge-watching the 4th season of Californication on Netflix before bed is also a major cause of sleep utterly destroyed. Since the screens on any technological device emit blue light that gets perceived as daylight and excites your nervous system, which in turn prevents regular sleep-onset. 

The solution? 

Construct and design a bedtime routine filled with enough calm to bore someone to death. All the relaxing activities will do the job just right. Meditate away. Read an encyclopedia. Take a warm bubble bath. Listen to Claire de Lune. Breathe.   

Oversleeping and Sleep Latency 

Squeezing in too many naps throughout the day, or sleeping more than the standard recommended amount of time does your overall sleep health no good as well. Trying to fall asleep, when you’ve already satisfied your sleeping needs, won’t yield any rewards. It’s only natural that it takes a longer amount of time to glance upon the gates of the dream world if you’re oversleeping. 

Remember – the average adult needs anywhere from 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. 

The solution? 

First and foremost, get to collecting the data on your sleep, then break it down and analyze it, and finally make the behavioral changes needed to regulate your sleep and achieve the ideal sleep latency. Keep a sleep diary. Use a smartphone app. Track how long it takes for you to fall asleep and how much time you spend asleep, and measure it across time to get an average. This will provide you with the data needed to work out a solution. If you’re sleeping more than the recommended amount and it takes forever for you to fall asleep, cut back on those naps or that late night cup of coffee. If, on the other hand, you end up sleeping way less than the recommended and it still takes forever to fall asleep, it can be a sign insomnia is creeping in on you. 

Either way, if your own efforts and changes in behavior and bedtime routines just don’t seem to work, it’s imperative you speak with your doctor. They’ll not only hold you accountable for your choices, but they will also work with you to diagnose and treat the underlying, root cause that’s making your insomnia come out of the closet. 

Sleep Deprivation and Sleep Latency

Getting fewer than 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night is a sure-proof way to allow sleep deprivation coming from around the corner and knocking on your door. As we all know, when sleep deprivation starts knocking on you, it knocks hard and merciless. 

Living with the burden of sleep deprivation on your shoulders not only makes it hard to maintain optimal function throughout the day; slow reaction time, focus and memory impairment, weakened immune system, it also has an effect on your sleep latency. Being in a state of chronic sleep deprivation can make you fall asleep rather instantly since your body and brain are exhausted, fatigued, and burnt-out. It can even trigger involuntary ‘microsleeps’. These are lapses in consciousness that go undetected and unnoticed by both you and the people around you. We can’t dread the idea of experiencing an involuntary ‘microsleep’ in a dangerous situation enough. Imagine driving and having ‘microsleeps’. Not only do you compromise your own safety, but you also threaten the safety of everyone in your vicinity. Having these happen frequently is a ‘must visit your doctor’ scenario, because they might be linked to an abundance of sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy.  

The solution? 

For the most extreme cases of sleep deprivation, it’s recommended that you pay a visit to a sleep lab. Let the experts with all their knowledge about sleep do the renowned multiple sleep latency test. Undergoing this method of testing out your sleep latency will measure how easy and quick you fall asleep when forced to take a series of 20-minute naps. The results of the test show if a person with their sleep debt maxed out will have no issues falling asleep in a matter of seconds, indicating how sleep deprived that person actually is. The multiple sleep latency test is one of the most effective ways of diagnosing sleep deprivation, and it’s also often used to test for excessive daytime sleepiness or narcolepsy

On the other hand, the people dealing with not as extreme cases of sleep deprivation will find sleep tracking to be beneficial in their journey towards healthier sleep latency. Download a sleep tracking smartphone app. Try keeping a sleep diary. Collect the data on your sleeping patterns and mark how fast you fall asleep for a period of time. Analyzing the data will point out to any sleeping issues – the less time it takes to fall asleep, the more likely you are dealing with a case of sleep deprivation. 

Furthermore, make the standard behavioral changes that are known to promote healthier, high-quality sleep. Make a sleep schedule that will allow you to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day and make sure you follow it to the letter, even on weekends. You should be seeing positive effects over time. 

Takeaway

Everything points in one direction – having an ideal sleep latency and regular sleep-onset is at the core of your holistic health. Having high-quality sleep is essential to everything from healthy brain function to overall wellbeing. Missing sleep regularly can affect your cognitive performance and worsen all other aspects of your life. 

Since people experiencing inconsistent, insufficient and low-quality sleep are at risk of developing an array of problems ranging from depression and anxiety to having their own safety compromised, knowing what we now know about sleep latency and delayed sleep-onset makes us one step ahead to prevent and stay proactive about our sleeping hygiene. 

That’s it, ladies and gentlemen. We hope we’ve delivered on what we promised to explain all the causes of taking too little or too much time to fall asleep and all the effects that follow along. 

We will end this with an important paragraph from the beginning of the article that we hope will always remind you of the importance of high-quality sleep. 

With rapid turnabouts of circumstances, our dreams of living on a perfect day remain a dream. We stay up all night thinking of what to do in the morning and toil all day to figure out what we plan on doing during the night. But in our desperation to make that elusive perfect day happen, we forget that dreams begin with a good night’s sleep.