What Microsleeps Are and How You Can Beat Insomnia Using a Specific Technique
The way life moves nowadays, there are many people who don’t feel rested during the day. They might suffer from insomnia or be stressed while they sleep — or they may not be able to get any shut-eye due to drinking so much coffee. While a mid-day nap would be the ideal scenario, it’s not always possible due to busy work schedules. That being said, our brains might find another way to switch off for a few moments without us even realizing it.
Bright Side has prepared a guide to explain what sleeping while you’re awake means and why it can be beneficial to people.
What microsleep is
It’s that brief time when your eyes are fully open, and while you look like you’re awake, in reality, your brain has fallen asleep. To be more accurate, parts of your brain go offline, while the rest of it is still awake and functioning. Most of the time, people don’t realize when they go into this state, and tiredness is not necessarily the reason it happens.
During an experiment, people who stayed awake for 22 hours were monitored as they were going into a microsleep. The part of the brain that regulates the sleep-wake cycle became less active, but the part that makes them pay attention was fully active. This proves that during this state, the brain assists us in not fully falling asleep while still maintaining awareness of our environment.
How dangerous microsleep is
Reaching an “offline waking rest” moment differs from suffering from an episode of microsleep. This involuntary event can cause embarrassment — like missing an essential part of a meeting that you’re present for — or it can even have fatal consequences on many occasions, like if it happens while you’re driving a car.
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for microsleep at the moment, and the only solution is to get adequate sleep daily. And if you feel exhausted during the day, you can take a 30-minute break and have a brief power nap.
The benefits of “offline waking rest”
This state is different from microsleep since we can consciously close our eyes and disconnect from our surroundings for a bit. It is also the moment when we daydream or when our mind wanders for a few seconds. Scientists found that we spend about half of our day in a state where we don’t really stay connected to our surroundings. And while you might think that you’re wasting your time, this disconnection might be just what we need.
According to a study, just 15 minutes of offline waking rest can help our memory be stronger by remembering more details. Not only that, but we are able to calm our brains and bodies down in a life that moves very fast, and many things get past us before we can notice them.
A technique you can try to help with insomnia
Lying in bed with your eyes open and waiting for your brain to go to sleep can be exhausting. Your brain should think of your bed as a sleeping space, and the more you stay awake in it, the more your brain gets away from that connection. One solution would be to get off of your bed and onto a different surface, like a couch or yoga mat. Stay there with your eyes closed, and when you feel sleepy, you can go back to your bed.
This trick takes the pressure off you since your brain doesn’t feel like it needs to sleep in zero time. And it’s not something you can do at night, but also during the day when you feel extra tired. You can just lie somewhere for 10 minutes and set an alarm in case you fall asleep. And remember that even if you do fall asleep, it is perfectly fine.
Why we feel sleepy in the middle of the day
Most people will start their day with tons of energy but will start feeling like they need a nap at around 2 or 3 in the afternoon. This probably has to do with a dip of our core body temperature, which releases melatonin. As a result, we start to feel drowsy even though it’s not night yet and we’re still at work. Maybe one reason why this happens is because we have a big lunch, which makes us sleepy, or maybe because we failed to have a good, energizing breakfast.
In order to beat this mid-day slump, you can start your day with a nice breakfast, like some cereal and milk. Later on, when you get your lunch, make sure to add some protein to it since eating only vegetables won’t do anything for your energy. However, you shouldn’t include too many fatty ingredients that will make you feel bloated for longer.
Have you ever realized that you had a microsleep? Did anything serious happen or did someone tap you on the shoulder to make sure you were awake?