Your physical and mental health depends a lot on how you have slept the previous night. A good night’s sleep and you are bright and raring to go. But a bad night can affect your energy, emotional balance, and productivity.
While a one-off or few days may not make a lasting difference, if you are unable to get in a good night’s sleep on a regular basis, the effects could lead to serious problems with your physical and mental health.
Given the pace and pressures of life today, more and more people are struggling to get the required quality and quantity of sleep. However, it is not impossible to change the pattern of sleepless hours to hours of sound sleep. Some of the cures to your sleepless nights can be found and rectified by changing your daily routine.
The following tips should help you get a good night’s sleep.
Adjust Your Schedule to Your Body Clock
An adult needs about seven hours of sleep every day. Unless there is a health issue, this period should not extend beyond eight hours. However, it is worth remembering that the seven hours should be at a stretch and not broken up into a smaller number of hours at different times. Your body has a natural sleep-wake cycle, known as the circadian cycle.
Keeping in sync with this cycle to set your sleeping and waking up time is probably the best way to getting proper sleep. Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day will allow your body clock to set and improve your quality of sleep.
Most of us tend to stay up late at night or continue to sleep a wee bit longer on weekends and holidays. This disturbs your body clock and thus your sleep. Late nights can be compensated by a short daytime nap, which is a far better option than disturbing your sleep-wake rhythm.
There are days when we feel drowsy before our scheduled bedtime. Do not give in and get to bed; instead, do something stimulating that can keep you awake till your bedtime. Sleeping early may result in waking up later at night and thus disturbing your body clock. You may also find it difficult to go back to sleep.
Create the Right Environment
It is rather difficult to fall asleep if your surroundings are not peaceful. A peaceful environment sends a signal for your brain to wind down and relax. Ensure that your bedroom is quiet, cool and dark. Ambient noises keep the brain alert and an alert brain is not conducive to sleep. If noise from external sources permeates into your bedroom, get a pair of earplugs. Get rid of all gadgets that can interfere with your winding down to sleep.
Contrary to popular belief, watching TV, using the phone or computer is not relaxing as they keep your brain alert. If you still find it difficult to fall asleep, try using a patch to help you sleep through the night. Sleep patches deliver a regulated dose of melatonin along with other sleep-inducing ingredients that help in promoting sound sleep.
Our body is designed to be comfortable within a temperature range. Heat or cold beyond this range creates discomfort. Research shows that most people manage to sleep better in rooms with adequate ventilation and temperatures between eighteen and twenty degrees Celsius.
Your bed can make a huge difference between a good and a bad night’s sleep. A lumpy mattress or tangled sheets do not make for a good night’s sleep. Ensure that your mattress and pillow provide you with the right support and that your cover should allow you to stretch move and turn freely at night.
Dim the Lights
The quantum of exposure to light dictates the amount of Melatonin that your brain secretes. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates your circadian rhythm. The brain secretes less melatonin in light and more when it is dark.
The higher the melatonin in your system, the sleepier you get. Avoid all bright lights at least one to two hours before your sleep time. Lights emitted by your phone, computer and TV are equally disruptive.
Backlit devices also disrupt, in fact, more than those with their light source. A good idea would be to dim all lights and put on some soothing music, something that can lull you to sleep. If you need a light in the middle of the night, make sure that it is a dim nightlight rather than bright light.
Exercise and Regulate Your Diet
Research shows that even a 10-minute walk can improve your sleep quality. Regular exercise increases your body temperature, speeds up your metabolism and stimulates hormones. However, ensure that you finish your exercises at least three hours before your bedtime.
Your diet can make a difference in your sleep quality. Large meals at night are not conducive to good sleep. Avoid food that is rich, spicy or acidic. Similarly, avoid foods that contain too much sugar or refined carbohydrates. Limit the use of stimulants like nicotine and caffeine in the evenings.
The effects of these stimulants last for hours and disrupt your sleep. While too much alcohol might put you to sleep, the quality of your sleep would not be good and you will feel awful when you wake up.
Learn to Relax Your Body and Mind
It is very difficult, if not impossible to fall asleep when your body and mind are active. Thinking about problems, issues, work or anything that can cause stress or anxiety will keep your brain on the edge.
You need to unwind and relax. However, that is easier said than done. Most of us are used to constant stimuli during the day. It could be checking the mail, busy on social media or phone calls, meetings and other work-related actions. Our brain is wired to this constant stimulus and finds it very difficult to slow down at night.
You need to help it unwind. Deep breathing helps activate relaxation by lowering your blood pressure, heart rate, and stress levels. Meditation is another form of relaxation. Listen to light music and allow your mind to drift away from your daily issues.
If you are reading this in bed – don’t. Switch off the device and allow your brain to relax and enjoy a good night’s sleep.