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Sleeping Too Much but Still Exhausted? Why You Can’t Sleep Well At Night

Sleeping Too Much but Still Exhausted? Why You Can’t Sleep Well At Night

Can’t get yourself out of the ‘laze zone’? Simple, your aunt would say – you need more sleep. Well, what if you’ve been sleeping more than usual, and still can’t shake off that heavy sense of fatigue?

You’re not alone.

Scientific research amply showcases that fatigue is rooted in many core factors, and sleep deprivation is merely one of them. Fatigue, whatever its cause might be for you, will take your life for a toss.

National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) estimates that 7% of road accidents are caused because of fatigue.[1] Also, 1 in 5 Americans are affected by fatigue, the financial impact (lower workplace productivity) of which is estimated at $100 billion annually.

On a personal level, fatigue makes you cranky, demotivated and unproductive. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to improve the real quality of your sleep, keep fatigue and tiredness at bay, and get more done, every day.

Are you sleeping for the right duration?

The general belief that adults need 8 hours of sleep to maintain healthy lifestyles is, well, a bit of an oversimplification. 8 hours – that’s what works for most people. It’s reasonably likely that it won’t work for you.

During sleep, the average human goes through multiple sleep cycles, of primarily two kinds of sleep – non-REM (shallow sleep) and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) or deep sleep. It’s better to wake up between two sleep cycles rather than in the middle of a cycle. The duration of a sleep cycle for a human varies between 90 and 110 minutes.

It’s easy to understand why 8 hours could be lower or higher than your ideal sleeping duration. Use a sleep tracker application to measure your ideal sleep duration. Or, keep on adjusting your sleep durations by 15 minutes (continue with a duration for a week) until you find your sweet sleep duration.

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Heard the phrase ‘body clock’? It’s closely tied to your sleep cycles and how you can tune your body to wake between REM sleep cycles. More on this, and many more methods for improving sleep quality, in the next sections.

How to tune your body’s internal clock

1. Follow sleep-discipline

Sleep researchers agree – sleeping and waking at the same time, even during weekends, helps set a sort of internal clock in your body, scientifically known as circadian rhythm. This rhythm affects your body, your brain, and your hormones, regulating when you feel like sleeping or waking up.

When you regulate the circadian rhythm, your body becomes naturally tuned to the idea of expecting sleep at a certain hour, and to wake up fresh and eager at a specific hour in the morning.

Try to follow this clock as regularly as possible because it takes time for it to take control of your sleep routine.

Natural light has an important role to play in setting the internal clock on a healthy sleep-wake cycle. If you can ask your partner to part the curtains, so that daylight seeps into your room before you awake, nothing like it.

Also, make it a point to take sun-breaks during the day (at least twice) if you work mostly within the confined of a closed office space.

2. Reduce exposure to blue light after evenings

Exposure to a lot of light can have negative effects on your ability to sleep well. Light impacts the body’s circadian rhythm, makes the brain believe that it’s daylight, and regulates body hormones such that the amount of melatonin is reduced, which in turn reduces the body’s inclination to sleep.

Blue light is the worst offender, and sadly, that’s what comes out of all your electronic devices.

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Because of the modern lifestyle, it might not be entirely practical for you to let go of electronic devices after evening. Try these options:

  • Use an app such as f.lux, which blocks out blue light from electronic device screens
  • Use spectacles with lenses that block out blue light
  • Reduce the brightness of your laptop and television screens
  • Try out screen protectors to filter out the harsh light, if you just can’t keep devices out of your pre-sleep routine

3. Avoid consuming chemicals that impede sleep

Nicotine, caffeine, alcohol – all these are known defaulters, as far as your sleep quality is concerned.

Caffeine, for instance, is a stimulant that is almost certain to keep you awake. It’s not only in coffee; caffeine is present in tea, colas, chocolates, and even some pain reliever medicines. Smokers should refrain from consuming tobacco products post evening.

People believe that alcohol helps them relax and fall asleep quicker than otherwise. This may be true, but the implications are bad for sleep quality. Alcohol makes you wake up more often during the night.

Limit your alcohol consumption to less than two drinks, if you are a regular drinker. Or, better still, don’t drink at all!

4. Nurture a healthy pre-sleep regimen

The transition from your wakeful hours to sleep hours can massively improve sleep quality and help you wake up fresh and alert. Try these options:

  • Engage yourself with a good book
  • Stay away from your electronic gadgets for at least one hour prior to sleep
  • Try out relaxation exercises to help your brain stop overthinking on personal problems
  • If you’re troubled by thoughts, write them down and put the notes away
  • Take a bath because sudden change in body temperature induces drowsiness
  • Instead of coffee, drink a cup or two of warm herbal tea

5. Make your bedroom’s environment conducive for sleep

Improper room ambience can not only delay the onset of sleep, but also cause you to wake often. On the contrary, salubrious room environment promotes sound sleep.

Here are some tips:

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  • Maintain a dark, quiet and cool environment
  • Use high quality curtains that block out outside light
  • Use a white noise appliance to shut off your brain from paying attention to outside noises
  • Use an eye mask if you’re unable to ensure complete darkness (because of your partner’s preferences, for instance)
  • Keep the room well ventilated, and the temperature regulated between 60 and 75°F
  • Get yourself a comfortable mattress, and change the bed linen often
  • Keep the wall-clock’s face away from yourself, and replace it with a quieter clock if the tick-tock is too loud

6. Use power naps judiciously, if at all

The idea of short day-time naps works well for many individuals. However, if you’ve been waking up groggy in spite of sleeping adequately, chances are that your regular power naps are to blame.

In a research study, participants who took power naps felt sleepy throughout the day, after taking their daytime naps.

7. Understanding your meds and their impact on sleep

The meds you take could have a major impact on how well you sleep and how well you wake up. Here are a couple of important pointers to keep in mind:

Avoid sleeping pills. Your sleep issues don’t warrant the use of sleeping pills. These medicines are known to interfere with your deep sleep (REM) and create several long-term health problems. A 2012 study published in BMJ Open goes as far as suggesting that people taking sleeping pills are at 4 times likelier to die as compared to those who don’t take these pills![2]

Know when to take your medicines. Some medicines tend to make you feel drowsy. Well, drowsiness isn’t the equivalent of sleepy.

So, refrain from deciding based on your opinions. Instead, consult with your doctor, as to when you should take specific medicines, if you are also facing sleep issues. Even if you are taking beauty-related medicines or weight loss medicines.

Your dietary habits have a strong role to play in deciding how well you sleep and how fresh you are on waking. Here are some dependable food practices:

Never skip your breakfast. Without fuel, your body will be lethargic, and you’ll just carry it through your sleep and to the next day. Also, skipping breakfast invariably causes overeating during dinners, which gives your body a tough time trying to find rejuvenating sleep.

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Eat judiciously after evenings. Research shows that people who eat reasonably fulfilling dinners after 8.30 pm have trouble digesting the food. Their body keeps on working to digest the food even while they’re asleep, which takes the sleep quality for a toss. Try as hard as possible to eat light and early dinners.

Eat melatonin-rich food. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness in humans. Your lifestyle and diet choices could help you build up melatonin, which in turn induces sleep. Tart cherry juice is a time tested, science backed, and proven effective drink to consume a couple of hours prior to sleeping.

The bottom line

Sleeping too much is not enough. Sleeping adequately and waking up with a feeling of enthusiasm and freshness is more important.

The quality of your life depends on how you feel throughout the day, and that’s where you need to realize your responsibility of taking your sleep seriously.

So if you find yourself sleeping too much but still feeling exhausted, it’s time to work on your daily habits and tune your internal body clock.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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Robin Williams

Business Professional, Writer and Blogger

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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