What is YOUR sleep language? Expert revels the 5 types and how identifying yours can help you get a better night’s rest
- Clinical sleep psychologist Dr Shelby Harris has identified 5 sleep languages
- READ MORE: ‘This eye mask TRANSFORMED my sleep!’
Are you one of the many people who struggles to get a good night’s sleep? If so, you will be familiar with the frustration of tossing and turning in your bed, and worrying about how tired you will feel the next day.
Many of those who have problems when it comes to getting good shuteye have tried myriad solutions to try and get a better night’s rest.
But according to New York-based clinical sleep psychologist Dr Shelby Harris, working with sleep and meditation app Calm, you may have better luck adopting a good bedtime regime if you are able to identify what she describes as your ‘sleep language’, then tailor your behaviour around that.
According to Dr Harris, there are five sleep languages, which she identifies as Words of Worry Sleeper, Gifter Sleeper, Routine Perfectionist Sleeper, Too Hot to Handle Sleeper, and Light as a Feather Sleeper.
Discussing the five sleep languages – or categories – she said: ‘ In my work with countless patients suffering from sleep difficulties throughout the years, I frequently see many people fall into five sleep categories.
If you are able to identify what type of sleeper you are, you can tailor your nighttime routine to that – and hopefully achieve a better night’s rest (stock image)
‘Being able to identify which (or a combination of!) categories you fall into will help you know where to focus your efforts to improve your sleep.
‘Basic sleep hygiene is always helpful for everyone, but certain techniques might be more important to focus on than others from the outset given your particular sleep style.’
Words of Worry Sleeper – the one whose anxious thoughts keep them up at night
According to Dr Harris, the Words of Worry Sleeper suffers from a ‘busy brain at night, filled with “what ifs” and “shoulds”.’
She says: ‘This person frequently reports trouble with turning off their brain in order to fall asleep, or they wake up in the middle of the night with a busy brain that wasn’t there earlier in the evening.
‘These can be random thoughts or worries about things going on in life and in the future, whether based in reality… or not.’
How to tell if you’re a Words of Worry Sleeper
If you answer ‘yes’ to these questions, you may be a Words of Worry Sleeper, according to Dr Harris.
1. Do you have trouble turning off your brain at night?
2. Do you worry about whether or not you’ll get a good night of sleep?
3. Do you struggle with tension in your body when it is time to sleep?
The ideal sleep scenario for the Words of Worry Sleeper, according to the sleep psychologist, features a wind-down routine that gives the brain and body time to quieten down before bed.
She recommends keeping your bedroom quiet, dark, cool and comfortable.
‘While some scented oils and sprays might not be a sleep cure, lavender has been proven helpful to relax the brain and body, allowing you to better set the stage for sleep,’ says Dr Harris.
Her sleep tips for the Words of Worry Sleeper are:
1. Build a consistent meditation practice, during the day and at night. By practicing meditation during the day and building a life of mindfulness, you can not only access these tools at night when you find yourself having more anxious thoughts and worries, but you will find your anxious thoughts subsiding over time.
2. Wind down 30 to ideally 60 minutes before bed. That means no screens, no work. Find something quiet, calm and relaxing to do in dim light to help calm your mind and body. Reading, meditation, and listening to a podcast or music are all great options.
3. The bed is only for sleep and sex. If you’re in bed with an anxious brain, give yourself around 20 minutes (don’t watch the clock!) to see if you fall back asleep. If you don’t, just get up and do something quiet, calm and relaxing in dim light until you’re sleepy. Then return to bed. Listening to a Calm Sleep Story or meditation when you wake up can also help to relax your mind again.
4. Seek out evidence-based non-medication treatments, such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia or Mindfulness-based therapy for insomnia to help even further.
The Gifted Sleeper – the one who can sleep anywhere, anytime
According to Dr Harris, the ‘Gifted Sleeper’ often prides themselves on their ability to fall asleep easily in any situation.
‘They get right into bed and fall asleep, but also they might love to nap during the day,’ she adds.
How to tell if you’re a Gifted Sleeper
If you answer ‘yes’ to these questions, you may be a Gifted Sleeper, according to Dr Harris.
1. Do you find you can sleep easily most nights?
2. Do you not really think about your sleep and it just happens to come without effort?
3. Are you able to sleep in most situations – whether home, away, or even naps elsewhere?
While this type of sleeper often feels they can sleep anywhere, no matter the circumstances, there is still an ideal sleep scenario, says Dr Harris.
She adds it is ‘still best to optimize your sleep (and remember, perfect sleep isn’t always a guarantee!) by keeping your bedroom quiet, dark, cool and comfortable as often as possible’.
Her sleep tips for the Gifted Sleeper are:
1. Consider if you are playing catch up. If you find you routinely fall asleep in less than 5 minutes every night, consider whether you should get more sleep at night as regularly falling asleep very quickly can be a sign of sleep deprivation.
2. Seek a professional opinion. Consider talking with your doctor if you find even with great sleep at night you don’t find it refreshing. You could have an undiagnosed sleep disorder like sleep apnea.
3. Set yourself up for success. Keep your sleep hygiene strong, to optimize the good sleep you are getting. This means no alcohol, large meals or vigorous exercise within three hours of bed, limiting caffeine eight hours before bed and avoiding blue lights.
4. Routine is key. Keep a consistent bed and wake time as often as possible to make sure you’re getting enough sleep on a regular basis.
The Routine Perfectionist Sleeper – The one with the regimented routine
Dr Harris says the ‘Routine Perfectionist Sleeper’ tends to be ‘very rigid about behaviours and situations surrounding their sleep, and they typically fear a bad night of sleep’.
She explains: ‘If something is outside of their typical routine at night they worry they won’t be able to get to sleep, and their anxiety about sleep can even keep them up.’
How to tell if you’re a Routine Perfectionist Sleeper
If you answer ‘yes’ to these questions, you may be a Routine Perfectionist Sleeper, according to Dr Harris.
1. Do I worry about whether I’ll sleep when I travel or sleep elsewhere?
2. Am I rigid about my sleep routine?
3. Do I easily get frustrated when something throws off my sleep routine/situation and have trouble letting it go to the point where it might impact my sleep?
According to the psychologist, because this type of sleeper can be so concerned about creating the ideal sleep scenario, worry about creating ‘perfect’ conditions can actually create issues when it comes to getting good shuteye.
She says: ‘Instead, work to be OK with things not always being perfect, like when you travel for example, to help alleviate your worries.
‘Find a mattress comfortable to you, bedding you like, a dark room.. But don’t be too tied down to it in case something changes!’
Dr Harris’ sleep tips for the Routine Perfectionist Sleeper are:
1. Practice mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness during the day can help this sleeper focus on one thing at bedtime instead of allowing their mind to wander with anxious thoughts like “I have to sleep tonight” or “I didn’t do this before bed”. You can let those unhelpful thoughts go a bit easier.
2. Focus on flexibility. While having a good wind-down routine before bed is helpful for sleep, having a really rigid routine can make it harder to sleep when you are away from that routine. Practice playing around with the order of your routine before bed so you become less tied to a specific routine.
3. Switch things up. Change what you can in your sleep environment (e.g. cool temperature, dark and quiet room with shades and earplugs/white noise, meditation), but accept what you cannot change as well (a random fire alarm going off in your building, the neighbor’s dog barking in the middle of the night).
If your routine is thrown off or you’re awoken at night, you can use Sleep Stories or meditations to refocus and calm down your mind, helping you get back into the headspace for sleep.
The Too Hot to Handle Sleeper – the one who overheats
Dr Harris describes the ‘Too Hot to Handle Sleeper’ as someone who ‘often wakes covered in sweat and finds it hard to fall or stay asleep as a result of being too hot’.
How to tell if you’re a Too Hot to Handle Sleeper
If you answer ‘yes’ to these questions, you may be a Too Hot to Handle Sleeper, according to Dr Harris.
1. Do you have hot flashes or night sweats that get in the way of your sleep?
2. Do you and your bed partner disagree about the temperature in the room, with you wanting it to be much lower than your partner?
3. Do you throw off your covers routinely at night?
‘We frequently see this sleeper style in women going through peri/menopause and having hot flashes,’ she adds.
‘Sometimes you might even go to bed feeling comfortable – or even cold! – and then, you wake up in the middle of the night in sweat or throwing off your covers.’
When it comes to creating the ideal sleep scenario for this type of sleeper, having a really cool bedroom and sweat-wicking layers for clothing and sheets/comforters’, is key.
She suggests that having two twin-size duvets on the bed can be helpful if you run warm and your bed partner is cold.
Another option is looking at cooling mattress pads, special mattresses that don’t hold to as much heat as standard options.
Dr Harris’ sleep tips for too Hot to Handle Sleeper are:
1. Keep your environment chilly. Keep your bedroom cool – ideally around 15C.
If you find you are too cold at the beginning of the night, dress in layers and wear socks to bed as they can aid in cooling off your body while keeping your feet warm.
2. Talk with your doctor about any medication side effects, potential sleep apnea or a hormonal component could be causing hot flashes.
3. Consider moisture-wicking and cooling technology. Cooling mattress pads, cooling sheets and moisture-wicking pyjamas are all great options.
The Light as a Feather Sleeper – the restless sleeper who is always tired
Dr Harris says that while the Light as a Feather Sleeper may sleep through the night, ‘their sleep isn’t ever “deep” enough’.
She adds: ‘They wake up feeling drained and like they didn’t get the benefits of a full night’s sleep.
How to tell if you are an Light as a Feather Sleeper:
If you answer ‘yes’ to these questions, you may be a Light as a Feather Sleeper, according to Dr Harris.
1. Do you wake up in the morning after a full night’s sleep and still feel unrested?
2. Do you regularly feel like you’re not getting into any deep sleep at night?
3. Do you find you’re a really light sleeper and easily awaken to things around you?
‘This could be due to a number of reasons, whether substances / medications are lightening your sleep, not prioritising sleep or even sleep disorders such as sleepwalking / sleep talking, restless legs or teeth grinding.’
When it comes to the ideal sleep scenario, Light as a Feather Sleepers should ensure they have ‘a cool, dark, quiet room and a comfortable mattress’.
‘Since you might be more sensitive to light and sound, it is best to really try to mitigate any of those issues – as well as finding a mattress that is really comfortable for you and a bed partner,’ the sleep psychologist adds.
Dr Harris’ sleep tips for the Light as a Feather Sleeper are:
1. Set a bedtime and morning routine. Make sure you’re keeping the same bed and wake time nightly, and you’re not spending too much time in bed.
It’s beneficial to wake up at the time of your morning alarm and avoid snoozing.
2. Say no to napping. Avoid any naps during the day as they can make sleep quality worse at night.
3. Seek professional advice. Talk with your doctor if you find even with good sleep hygiene you still don’t feel like you have deep sleep.
This could be a sign of an underlying sleep disorder like sleep apnea, teeth grinding, or sleep talking.
Source: Read Full Article