Small changes to your habits and lifestyle can have a big effect on sleep.
You might have heard some women talk about their biological clocks in regards to fertility; all living creatures have another type of internal clock, called the circadian rhythm. It refers to the 24-hour cycle of activity and sleep affected by the change from light to dark. A part of the brain called the hypothalamus manages the circadian rhythm, or pattern, by processing information (like when your eyes detect light) and creating sleep patterns. This sleep-wake cycle gives you the cue to go to sleep.
If you have trouble with sleep and insomnia, slightly adjusting your routine and habits may help.
Sleep is food for the brain. During sleep, important body functions and brain activity occur. Skipping sleep can be harmful — even deadly, particularly if you are behind the wheel. You can look bad, you may feel moody, and you perform poorly. Sleepiness can make it hard to get along with your family and friends and hurt your scores on school exams, on the court or on the field. Remember: A brain that is hungry for sleep will get it, even when you don’t expect it. For example, drowsiness and falling asleep at the wheel cause more than 100,000 car crashes every year. When you do not get enough sleep, you are more likely to have an accident, injury and/or illness.
Setting the Stage for Healthier Sleep
The field of sleep science is still looking into the cause and effect relationship between oversleeping and health, but some habits and steps that promote better quality sleep and a healthy sleep duration are known.
While a small percentage of people naturally sleep longer, for many long sleepers (especially whose sleep needs have changed), there are certain conditions, behaviors and environmental factors that can increase sleep need or affect sleep quality (making you feel less rested on a normal amount).
To get an idea of how to avoid oversleeping and get healthier Zzz’s, we reached out a few sleep experts for their words of wisdom. Here’s what they had to say:
The clothes you wear to sleep have an eye-opening history
- Where The Word Comes From: The word “pajama” comes from the Indian word “piejamah,” which described loose pants that were tied at the waist. The comfy trousers were admired by British colonials as the perfect thing to wear when napping in the afternoon, and it wasn’t long before the outfit was deemed perfect for any time spent asleep. When the colonials returned to Britain, the trend caught on.
- Pajamas Aren’t Just For Sleeping: In the early 1900s, a fashion designer named Paul Poiret created silk pajamas to be worn out in public during the daytime, as well as in the evening. And today, in some Asian countries, people still like to wear full pajama sets out in public. In Japan, this trend is taken one step further. Some people go out in something called Kigurumi, which are pajamas made to look like giant stuffed animal costumes.
- Footed Pajamas Aren’t Always For Kids: They actually started out as something designed for adults. The first versions were made when people began sewing socks to the bottom of their pajama pants. It wasn’t to just keep their feet warm; it was to prevent bugs like termites from nibbling on their toes.
- Nightcaps Were All the Rage: Nightcaps (the articles of clothing, not the alcoholic beverages) might enter your mind mostly during the holidays (since they are featured in both A Christmas Carol and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas), but they were popular throughout the 19th century. The purpose is pretty obvious: to keep a person’s head warm during the winter while he or she slept. But the design has some thought behind it. The pointed cap is long enough to wrap around your neck like a scarf, but not so long that it could choke you in the middle of the night.
- Who Needs Pajamas? While stores sell tons of pajamas these days, sleeping in your birthday suit is still popular. For example, in the UK, 47 percent of men sleep in absolutely nothing (while only 17 percent of British women go nude in the night). Americans, on the other hand, are just slightly more conservative. About 31 percent of men in the United States sleep naked and 14 percent of women go nude.
This article was originally published on Sleep.org. You can view the entire post, here.