How to become a light sleeper
October 27, 2023
October 27, 2023
You don’t need us to tell you that sleep affects your physical and mental health.
Hence, many people think sleeping longer and deeper is the essence of a healthy life. But what if we tell you you can get enough sleep even when being a lighter sleeper?
However, why should you sleep “less” intentionally?
Read on to find out!
We can sense that you’re still sceptical about transforming into a light sleeper. So, before we tell you the best tips and tricks to become a light sleeper, let us first tell you the many benefits of being one. And the first thing to remember in this regard is that light sleep IS NOT equivalent to poor-quality sleep.
Light sleep is the transitional stage between waking and sleeping, during which your brain waves begin slowing down. Simultaneously, the emergence of short bursts of activity (or sleep spindles) during this time can help aid your body stay asleep.
Apart from that, your muscles relax and your body temperature decreases, all of which help keep your body at total rest. This, in turn, will result in better quality sleep, reducing the chances of sleep disorders and helping you fall asleep better if you’re already suffering from a sleep disorder.
In fact, many people who have tried this method have been successful in curing their underlying sleep disorder! Not only that, but it may also have other significant benefits like improved memory, better cognition and focusing abilities.
Moreover, it can help suppress their “conscious” senses and prevent them from moving about in their sleep. As a result, light sleepers experience better sleep quality and don’t usually wake up in the morning feeling tired.
Light sleeping can also help you stay more aware of your surroundings, especially if you miss alarms. Likewise, light sleeping can keep you promptly available if you have a sick family member or need to check on your newborn constantly throughout the night.
Your entire sleeping cycle typically comprises 3 non-rapid eye-movement (NREM) sleep and 1 rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep stage.
The first NREM sleep stage begins when you close your eyes, and your body enters a state of rest. It’s the easiest to wake up from and is the precursor to the second NREM stage.
During the second stage, your body is fully relaxed, and your heart rate and body temperature drop. Although it’s relatively more intense than the first stage, it’s still comparatively easy to wake up from.
From here, you proceed to the third NREM stage, which is the threshold of deep sleep. In fact, it’s the deepest stage, waking up from which suddenly can leave you feeling all groggy. You may also develop a headache and uneasiness.
The fourth and last stage of your sleep cycle is the REM stage, which is when you dream. Waking up without completing this stage can leave you tired and groggy for the rest of the day.
Your mind goes through all these stages repeatedly until you finally wake up.
People can be categorised into light and heavy sleepers depending on their sleeping characteristics.
Starting with light sleepers, they are more prone to waking up even at the slightest noise and disruptions. Unless a light sleeper experiences a good night’s sleep, they will feel tired and unrested when they wake up. However, some light sleepers, especially those suffering from medical conditions like insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea, can also experience less sleep.
Heavy sleepers, on the other hand, typically can sleep for longer hours without interruptions. This is mainly due to the presence of high-frequency sleep spindles, which are the brain waves in your bed during stage 2 of non-REM sleep.
These brain waves help people resist sounds or other external stimuli while sleeping. This also means that heavy sleepers sleep deeper for prolonged periods, and they can take longer to fall asleep as a result.
Compared to heavy sleepers, light sleepers have fewer sleep spindles, which keep them from attaining all the deep sleep stages.
Can a heavy sleeper become a light sleeper? Now that we have (hopefully) helped you see the bright side of sleeping lightly, let us walk you through the most effective steps to sleep lighter.
Keep in mind that we aren’t trying to eradicate the importance of deep sleep, which is extremely important for your well-being. As such, we’d recommend sleeping light only when absolutely required.
On that note, here are a few things you can try:
Sleeping light at night essentially means reducing the duration of deep sleep at night without hampering its quality. So, you can try taking frequent power naps during the day, which will help fulfil your required quota of sleep without making you sleep less.
However, remember that these power naps should ideally be about 15 to 20 minutes long; otherwise, you may fall asleep too deeply. And this will prevent you from sleeping at all at night.
Since complete darkness is almost always related to deep sleep, allowing some light to seep through the room can serve the purpose of sleeping light.
For instance, you can keep the TV turned on or switch on a night light to avoid falling into a deep sleep stage. You can also ensure sunlight exposure early in the day by sleeping without drawing your curtains. When the first rays of the sun hit your face, you’re highly likely to wake up from bed.
One of the most effective techniques that most first-time light sleepers employ is altering their sleep schedule. For this, you can set alarms at regular intervals through the night, which will go off and force you to dismiss them. We’d suggest setting the alarms frequently initially and then increasing the duration between them.
Eventually, your brain will get accustomed to the pattern and prevent your body from reaching the deep sleep phase. Alternatively, you can chug a few gallons of water before going to bed, rendering pretty much the same effect by waking you up for bathroom breaks. But make sure you aren’t drinking too much water to cause health issues.
Uncomfortable mattresses and pillows are among the top reasons people have trouble sleeping. After all, you wouldn’t want to spend the night tossing and turning in bed all night and wake up feeling groggy in the morning.
And if you have been a heavy sleeper trying to sleep lightly due to changes in your daily schedule, this problem can become all the more intensified. So, before you start training your mind and body to sleep lightly, ensure you have the right pillow and mattress.
For example, you’d want a pillow that provides just the right amount of comfort and supports your head and neck, so you don’t have to struggle while moving in sleep. Otherwise, you may miss out on the desired uninterrupted sleep. In this regard, you can try out orthopaedic memory foam pillows, regardless of your sleeping position.
Likewise, for the mattress, opt for a comfortable foam mattress that doesn’t feel too hard or makes you sink. This is especially important if you experience body pains and need your pressure points to feel rested.
The blue light emitted from your phones or tabs increase brain stimuli to a great extent, keeping those regions of your brain unnecessarily active that help you fall asleep. Hence, people who have long hours of screen time just before going to bed have trouble falling asleep.
That’s why we’d strongly recommend reducing blue light exposure during bedtime so you can fall asleep quickly.
Try to go to bed at the same time every night, thereby establishing a consistent bedtime routine to train your body to fall asleep more effectively. Even if you have to alter the routine, try not to delay it beyond an hour.
Some people sleep very deeply. They don't wake up easily. We call them deep sleepers. They might not hear noises at night. They wake up feeling rested.
Other people wake up easily. We call them light sleepers. They might hear small sounds. Sometimes, they don't sleep well.
Both types of sleepers are normal. Everyone is different. It's important to find what helps you sleep best.
Transforming into a light sleeper, especially if you have been a heavy sleeper for most of your life, will not be easy. But just like overcoming any other challenge, remaining persistent is the key.
On that note, we will now say goodbye. But before that, here’s a pro tip: whether you’re a light or heavy sleeper, restful sleep is essential for your well-being. So, try to establish a calming bedtime routine to get a good night’s sleep.
You can take a warm bath just before bedtime, ensure a calming sleep environment, and you can try sleep supplements, to get a better night’s sleep.