Psychologytoday has an excellent (albeit pretty long) article on how to get good sleep. It gives some excellent detailed information on how and why insomnia happens. More interesting is some of the medical data given (which I did not know before) about how we get drowsy and feel sleepy (or other wise).
The following paragraph is amazing – most of us who have night-outs during college can relate to this. Looks like there is a medical reasoning behind this.
Circadian rhythm guides the body through cycles of sleep and alertness. Ironically, it issues its strongest alerting force in a burst lasting from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., perfect for dinner-party repartee (although you may not remember the bon mots — short-term memory is sharpest around 7 in the morning). After 8 p.m., alertness begins to fade, permitting us to doze off. This same system makes us sleepiest in the early morning, from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. Stay up all night studying for an exam and circadian forces will make you drowsy near dawn. Stick it out for two more hours, though, and you’ll start picking up steam again. “You don’t need sleep to actually get alert,” Spielman points out.
Also, about the way our brain functions with respect to day and night (light and dark).
The circadian system is tied, albeit imperfectly, to cycles of light and dark. We have dedicated sensors on the retina that deliver the daytime/nighttime message directly to the pineal gland tucked deep inside the brain. In response to darkness, this tiny nodule of brain tissue produces the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, broadcasting the sandman’s message to brain areas that govern everything from body temperature to protein synthesis to hormone production to alertness.
Wow, just the other day, I read in Keiths column (in todone.com ) that watching tv or working on the computer just before sleeping is a bad idea – because the bright light emanating from either of these can fool the brain into thinking that it is day time.Read the full article here. [link]