Why do many people choose TV over a good night’s sleep? Sleep doctor Henry Tumilehto has listened to the explanations of people with sleep problems and knows what the biggest challenges are in falling asleep.
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When sleep doctor Henry Tumilehto asks in his lecture how to improve sleep, the audience immediately comes up with ten great ideas. But when the ideas are supposed to be put into practice in our daily lives, only 20-30 percent make the effort.
Tuomilehto wonders how people understand the importance of exercise and their choices about food, but not sleep. In the sleep doctor’s office, it can be seen that the background of sleep problems is often one’s own harmful actions and omissions.
The biggest challenge is that sleep competes with secondary things in the evening. Even if it makes you tired, you may start watching TV shows, because you do not understand that it negatively affects your sleep and takes away energy for the next day.
With the proliferation of remote working, the boundary between work and leisure time has blurred and circadian rhythms have moved to the latter. Work and everyday chores easily turn into the talk of the evening.
An active evening is always a risk to sleep, says Tuomilehto.
– If brain activity becomes active in the evening, then it becomes difficult to sleep, dreams come less and sleep deficit starts accumulating. At some point, falling asleep may become easier, but evening activity still affects sleep quality and leaves you just as tired in the morning.
The range of interpretations is amazing.
Many people sleep longer in the morning or take naps during the day to compensate for a bad night, but this just pulls the rug out from under the rug for the next night’s sleep. Sleep therapists remind us that quantity cannot replace quality of sleep. If you don’t know how to go to bed when you’re tired, you’ll soon be caught in a vicious cycle of constant fatigue.
But a person adapts to everything, including fatigue. Because the adverse effects of sleep deprivation creep in, it can take years for the problem to be noticed. Help is usually sought only when the situation has already been tried: the bed and pillows have been changed several times.
Tumilehto has listened to compiled interpretations of night owls during his career of more than 20 years.
– The range of interpretations is amazing. You can’t help but turn your head when you hear the reasons why you haven’t been able to follow through with a treatment plan. External factors are often blamed, such as the busyness of a civic or professional life, although the cause is simply not getting enough sleep.
it starts small
When sleep problems are often caused by one’s own harmful activities, it is also easiest to restore sleep through one’s own activities, reminds Tumilehto.
Even small changes can have startling effects on alertness. You can improve your sleep by going to bed 10-15 minutes earlier than usual. In a week, this already means two more hours of sleep. Self-inflicted sleep problems should begin to improve when you invest in your sleep regularly for a few months.
Sleep decides how we behave.
If the situation does not improve, the cause of the disturbance may be something other than your own doing. Then you should apply for the appropriate exams. Often small changes already help.
When you start waking up a little more refreshed, it’s easier to go to bed 10 minutes earlier the next night. This way you live in a positive cycle.
The most important thing is that you understand the importance of sleep for your well-being. Sleep is the most important source of energy and more than 90 percent of recovery occurs during sleep.
Since sleep affects everything, Tuomilehto urges us to ask: What kind of person do I want to be and what is important to me?
Sleep determines how we behave and what happens to our bodies. Only when you understand how valuable sleep is, you have the opportunity to make the right choice at least once.
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This story was first published in Me Nice in November 2022.