The 5 Languages ​​of Sleep (And How They Can Help You Get Better Rest)

April 4, 2023 0 Comments

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You don’t need anyone to tell you that lying awake at some ungodly hour is a special nightmare. And trying to make sense of the vast amount of advice explaining the algorithm or alchemy that could potentially help can be as frustrating as the insomnia itself. Do it. Don’t do this. Don’t do this and then do that.

That high volume of messages is actually part of the problem, says Shelby Harris, PsyD. A behavioral sleep medicine provider and sleep expert at Calm, a sleep and meditation app and mental health brand, Harris has dedicated her career to researching the physical and mental effects of sleep disorders and counseling those struggling with them.

Everyone’s insomnia has a different origin and character, she explains. This means that everyone has a different solution.

Over the years, Harris has noticed that her patients with sleep problems tend to fall into several categories. So the author of The Woman’s Guide to Insomnia and a professor of neurology and psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City began working with Calm to create a solution.

The result is the latest Calm initiative, which asks us to consider our ‘sleep language’.

How knowing the 5 languages ​​of sleep can help you

The concept of sleep languages ​​is based on the popular bestseller The 5 Love Languages, which attempts to demystify the various ways in which we unconsciously perceive, express and expect love to be demonstrated. Follow this approach to sleep and you’ll be able to fast-track your understanding of your unique sleep tendencies and the appropriate fixes that apply to your situation, Harris says.

“I think knowing what dream language you’re falling into helps you focus your efforts,” she says, referring to the nighttime confrontation of falling asleep. It also helps you discern whether you’re dealing with clinical insomnia, where you literally can’t sleep, or you’re not making sleep a priority, or you’re unconsciously engaging in sleep-sabotaging behaviors, Harris says.

While the physical benefits of getting enough sleep are well known, getting enough shut-eye can also help you in less obvious ways. One night of good sleep can reduce irritability and moodiness, and can help you be more resilient to stress and anxiety. In a recent survey of more than 1,000 adults aged 18 to 74, Calm found that those who reported “fair” or “poor” sleep quality were twice as likely to report feeling anxious or stressed.

What are the 5 languages ​​of sleep?

The 5 Languages ​​of Sleep attempts to cut through the glut and confusion surrounding poor sleep with personalized information. As with the five love languages ​​or any attempt to assess personality types, whether psychological or astrological, there is inevitably some overlap between the categories.

Harris also notes that, as with any mental illness, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But there is much self-awareness to be found in the study of instinctual behavior and dispositions. Once you know, you can make changes.

Here’s a look at the different languages ​​of sleep.

A woman curled up in bed under a blanket with her cat and her phone is so worried that she can't sleep
(Photo: Getty Images)

1. Words of anxiety

It is not difficult to understand the symptoms of this type of sleep. “It’s like you can’t turn off your brain to go to sleep, or you wake up in the middle of the night and your brain is talking,” Harris says. “It can be a cause for concern. Although it could also just be random thoughts at 15 and you can’t turn it down.”

How to calm your thoughts:
Developing a regular practice of mindfulness and being aware of when your brain is “talking too much” can teach you to return to a single focus, she says. “It’s like saying, ‘No, not now, on the way again.’

“I’m a big fan of meditation,” says Harris. “I actually mean during the day, not just at night.” When you practice meditation during the day, it’s easier to use the practice at night, when insomnia threatens and the stakes seem higher because you’re worried about it, Harris says. The effectiveness of mindfulness-based insomnia treatment has been confirmed by research.

Also, stop thinking that falling asleep is like flipping a switch. “It’s really a dimmer switch. You need to rest,” Harris says. “A lot of advice is to find 60 minutes to rest… Yes, that’s ideal, but if you can’t find 60 minutes, try to find 10. Start small. Turn off social media 5-10 minutes before bed.”

Harris points out that mindfulness-based treatments, which change cognition and behavior without drugs, work especially well for people who are sleepwalking. She prefers to listen to Harry Styles stories at night, but reiterates that the best decision is what works for you.

A woman who can fall asleep easily curled up in bed under a blanket
(Photo: Getty Images)

2. The gifted sleeper

According to Harris, this is a person who can sleep “anywhere, anytime.” At night, you usually fall asleep within minutes of getting into bed, and may even take a light nap during the day. Some of you can boast that you can fall asleep as you please and make everyone you know jealous.

It may not sound like you have trouble sleeping. But falling asleep easily doesn’t necessarily equate to quality sleep, Harris says. In fact, your ability to fall asleep can be very telling in terms of your need for better sleep.

How to ensure quality sleep:
What appears to be a gift may actually be a curse. Because you’re not making an effort to fall asleep, or even paying attention to potentially sleep-disrupting behaviors, you may unknowingly slip into patterns that can disrupt your sleep efficiency. Excessive alcohol consumption, large meals at night, vigorous exercise in the evening, and lack of a relaxing bedtime routine can cause you to wake up at odd hours or wake up in the morning still tired, further exacerbating your condition. tendency to fall asleep in any case.

In addition, if you notice that you are sleeping excessively, you should find out whether you are taking enough time to sleep, or whether you may have sleep apnea.

A woman sleeps after a bedtime ritual
(Photo: Getty Images)

3. Everyday sleeping perfectionist

You rely on a very specific and structured nighttime routine—and believe that your ability to experience proper shut-eye depends on those behaviors and situations, says Harris. Any change in your nighttime routine causes worry and anxiety about whether or not you’ll be able to fall asleep, which in turn further impairs your rest. And this fear around waking up is very real for you.

How to slightly (or significantly) alleviate the condition:
Flexibility is key, says Harris. Yes, create space for yourself to relax, but allow yourself some flexibility in your approach. Try to let go of the idea that certain things have to happen in order for you to sleep, she says. Maybe start by changing the order of tasks. Try brushing your teeth before reading, not after, she suggests.

Not having a regular routine can help you accept the things you can’t change and let go of the things you can’t change, while controlling the things you can. For example, Harris explains, when you’re in a hotel, “You can ask to be on the top floor and away from the elevator, but you can’t control whether the person in the next room slams the door at 2 in the morning. .”

The main concern of the perfectionist sleeper is the stress you put into trying to ensure restful sleep. Harris suggests trying meditation and bedtime stories to ease mental and physical tension.

A pregnant woman lies in bed awake at night because she is too hot to sleep
(Photo: Getty Images)

4. The sleeper is too hot for the handle

Have you noticed that you wake up in the wee hours of the night, drenched in sweat? This is a common problem for those going through menopause and perimenopause, says Harris. It is also common among pregnant women. Problems with thermoregulation can also be associated with non-hormonal influences, in particular certain medications.

Not only is it uncomfortable and annoying, but trying to find a way around it can be devastating for bed partners who run at different temperatures, Harris says.

How to modulate the temperature:
Harris advises keeping the temperature in the bedroom at 60 degrees. If you feel uncomfortably cold when you fall asleep, layer up and pull on some socks. It also supports the use of moisture wicking and cooling technologies, including mattress pads that lower the temperature of your mattress. Double-sided mattress toppers can minimize temperature arguments with bed partners, although you can also opt for the low-tech alternative of different double duvets for each partner to suit their needs.

A person cannot sleep at night
(Photo: Getty Images)

5. Light as a feather dream book

Harris once asked a patient to describe her nights as if she were “skimming” the surface of the dream. This largely characterizes the light-as-a-feather sleeper. If you wake up countless times during the night and feel completely unrested in the morning, chances are it’s you.

Any number of factors can contribute to this, including stress, medications, alcohol, blue light, teeth grinding, and restless legs.

How to rest properly:
Hitting the snooze button can be especially bad for you, says Harris, who stresses the need to establish consistent wake-up and bedtime times. Also, don’t “snack” on naps, she says, as this can make your night’s sleep easier.

You can learn more about the 5 languages ​​of sleep, including additional suggestions on how to fall asleep and suggested meditations, at Peaceful blog.

RELATED: 15 Yoga Poses for Better Sleep

About our contributor

Renee Marie Schettler is a senior editor at Yoga Journal and has been a writer and editor for The Washington Post, Real Simple, and other online media platforms. She began practicing yoga nearly 20 years ago with teachers in Manhattan who encouraged students to experience space and grace in the precise alignment of poses. Her understanding of yoga changed when she began studying yoga with teachers who emphasized giving into the immobility of the poses. Renee has been teaching yoga since 2017 and believes that writing and practicing yoga are equally about the search for truth. She considers herself a “talented sleeper” most nights and a worrier on other nights. Follow her at @reneemarischettler.

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