Among the many challenges of the modern world of today, one is to let go off stress and achieve a peaceful sleep. Getting up every morning and rushing to work, dealing with the competitive environment at the workplace, managing family and meeting all their needs tends to make one ignore what we call as ‘mental peace’. This rat race of money and materialistic gains has added to the stresses both physical and mental, increasing our dependence on sleep aids and relaxant drugs. Thus, man has forgotten how to sleep well.
Is It Insomnia?
If you are not satisfied with the quality or quantity of your sleep, have early morning awakenings, difficulty falling asleep, unable to return to sleep if awakened at night, then you might be drifting towards a sleep disorder called ‘insomnia’. This difficulty in sleep pattern must be present on at least 3 nights per week and for 3 consecutive months in order to fulfill the diagnostic criteria for insomnia.
The Cure For Insomnia: Set Up A Regular Routine
You must try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. This schedule will help you synchronize with the ‘biological clock’ in your body. This ‘biological clock’ controls the sleep-wake cycle in our bodies so coordinating our sleeping habits with this cycle can really do wonders. Initially, you might not be able to fall asleep as soon as you hit the bed, but practicing this habit everyday will tune your brain within a very short span of time.
Avoid Caffeine And Midnight Snacking
Try not to consume coffee or any caffeine containing beverages after 6 p.m. Caffeine stimulates the brain and does not let it relax into the kind of winding down you need before bedtime. Make sure you take your last meal at least 3 hours in advance of bedtime. This will save you the trouble of indigestion and acid reflux that interferes with sleep.
Make Your Bedroom ‘The Most Comfortable’ Heaven
Dim the bedroom lights by using low voltage bulbs in the bedside lamps. Use soft pillows and a comfortable mattress that does not bother your back or neck muscles. If you are a chronic backache patient then try the especially designed ‘ortho’ mattress. Try some soothing, low volume music or a fan to block out the noises of honking cars and a barking dog outside the bedroom window. Make sure the room temperature is as conducive as possible to a comfortable sleep.
Avoid Drinking Alcohol And Liquids In The Evening
Alcohol can interfere with the quality of sleep while consuming extra liquids in the hours leading up to bedtime, can cause ‘diuresis’(excessive urination). Having to get out of bed for frequent visits to the loo at night can disrupt sleep making it difficult to doze off again.
Listen To The Natural Rhythm Of Your Body
Our brain produces a hormone called ‘melatonin’. This chemical regulates the sleep-wake cycle and the biological clock of our body. Bright day light causes a decrease in its production whereas darkness allows an increased secretion of the hormone which is why we tend to feel sleepy after sunset. The million dollar question is how to synchronise your daily routine with the natural body rhythm?
- Try letting in as much sunlight as possible into your office and home by removing window blinds during hours of the day.
- Maximize your exposure to daylight after you wake up every morning by a light walk in the garden or having breakfast near the window.
- Switch off all electronic devices like mobile phones, laptops and television around bedtime. Artificial bright light tends to reduce the production of melatonin and stimulates the brain making it difficult for it to relax enough to initiate sleep.
- Imagine yourself in a serene place by closing your eyes. Focus on feeling the ambience and calmness of the place and try to relax as much as possible.
- Take deep breaths with your eyes closed and continue doing this repetitively in a slow manner.
- Tense all your body muscles and then relax them fully. Start doing this from feet and then progress towards the head.
Exercise On A Daily Basis
You must spare at least 30 minutes per day for moderate physical activity, be it a light walk, swimming or even gardening. This exercise is bound to improve the quality of your sleep.
When Is It Time To See Your Doctor?
- Unable to stay awake during the day
Did you know that you can only make up for one-third of your lost sleep even if you sleep for the same number of hours after a night that you stayed up?
“Your future depends on your dreams, so go to sleep!” said Mesut Barazany.