Your body physically needs sleep. So, why is it such a struggle to get quality snooze-time? To help us figure it out, SciShow (founded by Hank Green) and Michael Aranda give us some tips on how to actually catch those elusive ZZZs.
Falling asleep is deceptively simple. And, while everyone's sleep habits should mirror their individual needs, research has shown that most of us need about seven hours per night. What's standing in our way? As the SciShow video explains, light is one of the biggest influences on our natural sleep-wake cycles. That means our computer and phone screens can confuse our bodies into thinking it's still awake-time. So, SciShow's first tip is one we've heard a thousand times (but is still the most difficult to put into practice): Stop looking at screens at least an hour before bedtime. We know, this is especially difficult when your first instinct in a bout of insomnia is to turn to the Internet for answers.
Of course, there's an entire class of medications that are designed to help us sleep. Hypnotics, including Lunesta and Ambien, may help on one particular evening, but they might not be so great in the long-term. For one thing, they can bring an unpleasant hangover the next day, leaving you feeling groggy instead of well-rested. And, other studies have shown a placebo effect when it comes to hypnotics: Participants who were simply told they were getting a sleeping pill actually slept better.
So, we asked Aranda: What's the number-one way to easily drift off into dreamland? Wake up at the same time every day, he says. Yes, it sounds painful, but if you can manage to give up your sleep-in Saturdays, it can make it easier to go to bed at the same time every night, keeping your body on schedule. And, if you feel the need to supplement that nighttime sleep, we'd celebrate that, too.