Train your brain for better sleep with 3 expert tips

By Sandee LaMotte, CNN

In today’s world of chronic sleep deprivation, the benefits of a good night’s sleep can seem impossible to find.

We are no longer like our ancestors, learning to sleep when the sun goes down and to get up when it wakes up. We have replaced our natural rhythms with artificial rhythms, generated by blue light from too many screens – televisions, computers, smartphones, game consoles, etc.

To synchronize these sleep rhythms, we need to train our brains for sleep, said clinical psychologist and sleep expert Michael Grandner. He directs the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona and the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic at Banner-University Medical Center in Tucson.

“Sleep is highly programmable and adaptable to the situation,” Bigger noted. “So create the situation you want him to adapt to, do it often, and before long your brain will be saying, ‘Look, this helps me sleep.’ “

Here are his top three ways to train your brain to fall asleep.

1. Set a schedule and stick to it

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body to regulate when you are sleepy and when you wake up. As night approaches, melatonin levels rise, becoming a key signal to the body that it’s time for bed. Melatonin production is shut down by light – so levels naturally drop as daylight approaches, preparing you to welcome the day.

To function properly, Grandner said, the release of this hormone must occur at regular times. So if your sleep and wake times change from day to day or on weekends, he says, your sleep patterns aren’t predictable and the body doesn’t know how to respond.

“You want to build a reliable beat, kind of like the drummer counting the beat for the band,” Grandner said. “By controlling when you wake up and when you go to bed, you set the pace.”

One way to do this is to have a standard wake-up time, even on weekends, holidays, or after a night of poor sleep.

“We can’t always control when we’re sleepy, but we can control when we wake up, which activates a little timer in the brain that sets our sleep rhythms,” Grandner said.

“The brain likes regularity and predictability,” he added. “Waking up at the same time every day, then adding light and movement as soon as you wake up, will set your other rhythms for the day and give you more energy and mood.”

2. Don’t stay awake in bed

It’s a golden rule in sleep medicine, backed by “decades of data,” Grandner said. In fact, he said this trick is so powerful that when used in his sleep clinic, it “can even beat prescription sleeping pills.”

“The best sleep advice you can give someone is to get up — don’t stay awake but don’t sleep,” Grandner said. “Whether it’s early night or middle of the night, if you’ve been awake for 20 or 30 minutes, get up and reset. Maybe you just need five minutes to fall asleep, or maybe an hour, but don’t spend that awake time in bed.

Why is this so important? Because staying awake in bed can form an association in your brain that can lead to chronic insomnia, Grandner explained. Instead of being a restful place where you fall asleep peacefully, your bed becomes an anxious place where you toss and turn and wake up tired.

“It’s counterintuitive, but spending time in bed awake turns the bed into a dentist’s chair,” he said. “You want the bed to be like your favorite restaurant, where you walk in and you start getting hungry even though you just ate recently. You want the bed to do this for sleeping.

Establishing this positive relationship between bed and sleep can be beneficial on nights when your schedule must be irregular due to work or travel, Grandner added.

“Let’s say you have to go to bed really early,” he said. “The bed now has the power to help you overcome your racing mind and allow you to fall asleep.”

3. Change your attitude towards sleep

Many people view sleep as the last thing they need to do in a busy day, making it worth putting off catching up on housework, schoolwork, office work, or the latest TV series worth watching. frenzy.

This way of thinking needs to be changed, Grander said.

“Don’t think of your sleep as the time you have left in your day,” he advised. “Think of your sleep as the time you need to prepare for a productive future.”

It may seem like a small shift in mentality, but it’s important, Grander added.

Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep to be fully rested, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So if a person had to get up at 7 a.m. every day, an eight-hour delay would require an 11 p.m. bedtime.

“Now you know when to stop and get ready for bed, whether you’re done or not,” Grander said. “The problem is that we don’t shut down and disconnect. And it’s to our detriment and it makes the next day more stressful.

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