4 Simple Steps to Overcome Sleeping Problems with ScienceNovember 05, 2021

Your Nanny once told you that everything about your day would impact your sleep. How many hours you spend outside, your habits, emotions and thoughts - all this feeds into the sleep you end up with at night. All of which you were completely oblivious to when you were watching "Baking Impossible". You don't have a sweet tooth, but the sight of a chocolate-flavoured Viking ship, topped with sushi, made you hungry. (Don't count on it, your mother would remind you a little later.) You wondered if such an eye-catcher could survive the sea. Your thoughts drifted further, unaware that you were past your bedtime. And you were far from finishing your assignment. You were about to enter a real and vicious cycle, which could affect your focus on the coursework. What to do?

Your coursemate, who made sleeping (or a good night's sleep) a priority, suggested a sleep script. It was the most outrageous idea since thinking about getting stoned in Banteay Samre, a Khmer temple that could be the mini-me version of the Angkor Wat. (French tourists were meditating when he arrived, so he abandoned that plan.) But you were an open-minded lad. The sleep script, he began, would be a positive affirmation of how your mind and body were preparing you to sleep. You thought about "A Nightmare on Elm Street", which made him frown at you. You asked your mate to recount, one more time, his delayed exhaustion after trekking the terraced fields of Sa Pa. (Sunburn kept him awake during the ride back to his hotel.) And he would recommend overeating. (He couldn't pass the buffet breakfast at the swanky hotel in Sukhothai.) These trips, which he did before the pandemic broke out, didn't help you overcome your sleeping problems. So you recalled your childhood memories. Counting sheep? It doesn't work anymore. Reading a book? You became hooked after Chapter 6. Chat? The connection could lead to addiction. There must be something else.

You're a Bad Sleeper. Not!

Your body responds to too much light. Get it? You should've guessed that too much light would keep you wide awake. It might not have dawned on you after listening to the songs that Danny Boyle included in the soundtrack of his films, so this would be the right time. Spring beckons, but you're dead tired after writing another essay. (It was the second this week.) If you haven't drawn the curtains, then stay away from the window. It shouldn't take you minutes to figure out that light-sensitive cells in your eyes keep your sleep-wake cycle turning as it should. It also applies to your spending hours in front of the computer screen. (Get up and turn away from the screen.) If it's your mobile phone, turn it off. There will be another day (for your mates).

Blame it on stress. Your mate cited walking among trees, or forest bathing (as he would prefer to call it), as one of those effective stress busters. But you were a bit lazy to get up (and find a verdant surrounding). You must change your perception of stress, he said in a commanding voice. The (spring) season is the most challenging part of the term, so you have to learn quickly. Reframe your emotions (when you're about to procrastinate on your assignments). Don't play the blame game (if you notice your stress level spiking during the day). And this shall pass. (If not, read the next item.)

Get a chair. Sit down. When you're stressed, if not overwhelmed, you must go to your second-favourite chair. (If you don't have one, then get one.) Think about the events of the day, as well as the previous day. This process is how your brain moves your worries from its emotional HQ, so don't be surprised if you come up with a solution after some time. It also helps if you write it down (on a piece of paper). You can sleep it off (and look at it the next day). It's effective whenever you're preoccupied with how to navigate through the pandemic (while you have essays and examinations to worry about).

Stare into the darkness. Turn off the light (and your phone). Lie down and stare into the darkness of your room. You would imagine yourself roaming through empty space, if not a flurry of images that you couldn't make of. You're heading into a deep sleep. (Your other coursemate, a film junkie, recommends the opening scene of "Zentropa". You're not interested in World Cinema, though.) Melatonin, the hormone of sleep, is released at night time, so allow your body to release much of it as possible. If you're a night owl, then use a curtain. Your bed must be far from the window. And avoid soda.

What's Your Sleep Script?

I can sleep. I will sleep. I must sleep. Repeat.

You don't need self-help books to prepare you for a good night's sleep. Hypnosis may be going too far. And the sleeping pill is not recommended. Allow yourself to pause, which should make stress subside. And then recall your sleep script.

I can sleep. I will sleep. I must sleep. Repeat.

Don't get frustrated if your eyes aren't drooping. Trust in the process.

I can sleep. I will sleep. I must sleep. Repeat.

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