Don’t you just hate tossing and turning, when you should be sleeping? Well, here’s the anatomy of your sleepless night. Basically, even if you’re exhausted, you could be doing a number on yourself that keeps you up all night. Here are a few examples:
Your brain won’t turn off. Most commonly, people start taking a mental inventory of their day when they crawl in bed. We start thinking if all the things we should have done – or said – or need to do tomorrow. That sends your brain into fight-or-flight mode, and unleashes bursts of stress hormones, which raise your heart rate, blood pressure, and your body temperature. The exact opposite of what you need for sleep.
Watching the clock. After an hour of tossing and turning, you glance at your clock in frustration, which triggers another burst of stress hormones.
Technology interference. After giving up on sleep, you switch on your laptop or TV. And the blue light from the screen tricks your brain into believing it’s daylight.
Poor sleep quality. After 5 sleepless hours, your brain’s sleep center finally wins the battle, and you nod off. But it’s not restful sleep, your brainwaves are stuck in high-frequency mode, which means you only sleep in short bursts.
Waking up during deep sleep. After about 7 hours, your alarm goes off. And chances are, you’re waking up just when your brainwaves finally slide into deep sleep. You may be physically awake, but you haven’t burned through enough of your sleep hormones, which make it hard to be focused and alert during the day.
The final effect of a sleepless night: You’re not rested. So, your brain’s emotional center is more active than usual. And you may feel grouchy, overly giddy, and unfocused.
The good news is: If you hit the hay at your usual time tonight, and calm your mind by taking deep, relaxing breaths, and writing down what you need to do the next day, you should get a good night’s sleep.