What does it mean to be a light sleeper?
Do you categorise yourself under the “light sleepers” column? Does just the faintest hint of natural light wake you? Or is the sound of someone even contemplating making a noise enough to bury your head under a pillow?
As it turns out, some people (and yes, we’re looking at you pro-sleepers) can sleep through just about anything (how annoying right?!) where others will need an optimal sleeping environment (dark, quiet, and preferably alone) to get their forty winks.
We’re guessing that you fall into this sleep-rookie category and would do just about anything for uninterrupted deep sleep, right? Well, you’ve come to the right place, read on.
Who are light sleepers?
These are sleepers who have the uncanny ability to wake at the slightest bump-in-the-night. Being it the rustle of sheets as your bed partner turns over or the dog next door needing to be let out. Where it may seem like you have supersonic hearing, it’s actually because you’re not reaching the deepest stage of sleep.
There are 5 stages of sleep, stages 1-3 being your lightest phase of sleep and 4-5 being the deepest, ending in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. (Which is where most deep sleepers spend their night).
As a light sleeper, you float around in stages 1 and 2, dozing in and out of z’s, which is where you’ll tend to occupy most of your ‘sleeping’ hours. During these shallow sleep stages, the smallest distraction can pull you out of slumber.
If you’re unsure if you are a light sleeper, let’s explore what causes this skimpy sleep situation and what you can do to join the ranks of the deep sleepers.
What causes light sleeping?
There is no definitive one cause (or reason) that makes you a light or deep sleeper. It can be a combination of lifestyle and health choices, and sometimes, even your genetics can play a role. If you’re experiencing one or more of these possible sleep-sappers, it could be the difference between your light and deep sleeping habits:
- You suffer from anxiety, making your mind restless at night.
- You have an overactive thyroid, creating overstimulation of your nervous system and increasing your heart rate, which can cause anxiety.
- You’re not eating enough before bed (or consuming the wrong things, like stimulating drinks) causing your blood sugar to drop and waking you at night.
- You have an inconsistent bedtime routine that can mess with your body clock causing you to battle to fall asleep.
- You’re exercising too late in the day creating adrenaline which stimulates your body and keeps you awake.
- Your bedroom is too warm; this can lead to night sweats and feeling uncomfortable, which can cause you to become restless.
- You have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea causing you to wake up from snoring or needing to breathe.
Remedies to increase deep sleep
If you’re finding it difficult to stay asleep during the night (and feeling irritable and groggy with a squirrel-like attention span during the day), we have a few home remedies that could help increase your chances of reaching deep sleep.
- Try not to eat too close to bedtime but also make sure you eat enough to keep your sugar levels happy throughout the night.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks after 2pm.
- Turn off your tech at least 30 minutes before bedtime. The blue light emitted from your devices can alter your production of melatonin (sleeping hormone).
- Create a set sleep-wake schedule. While you’re trying to get even with your sleep, avoid sleeping in on weekends as this will make it harder for your body to rest when the week rolls around.
- Make sure your bedroom is a sleep sanctuary. Block out any light, upgrade your mattress, get the temperature right and invest in some earplugs. Distractions be gone!
- During your light-sleeper rehabilitation, you’re going to have to avoid those afternoon naps. We get that you may be tired but allowing your body to get into a consistent sleep-wake routine is key.
Other ways to sleep better
While sleep researchers try to get to the bottom of why some of us can sleep through anything while others can’t, we suggest exploring ways that can help you sleep better by doing a few new sleep-inducing techniques before bed.
Whether it’s guided sleep meditation, a calming sleep story, or even making new bedtime rules for your household, taking the time to invest in your rest can help turn you into a deeper sleeper.