Healthy Living

10 steps to a good night’s sleep

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More than 30% of people experience insomnia at some point in their lives, and roughly 5-8% of them require medical intervention or treatment. Sleep, is an integral part of human cycle and being deprived of a good night’s sleep, or not enough sleep, can have serious consequences. Not only does one wake up not refreshed enough to carry on the daily activities normally, they have trouble focusing and being productive at work.  For some people, insomnia is short lived and is usually due to some temporary lifestyle changes or environmental stressors that trigger a change in sleep cycle. More than often, simple steps and techniques can help you relieve these symptoms.

1. Relaxation and meditation

When it is time to sleep, it is very important that your body gets that signal and understands that its time to relax and slow down all the body machinery. To do that, you can do some deep breathing, lay down in dim lights, read a book or listen to light music, whatever helps you relax. You can also close your eyes and meditate. These things will surely help you fall asleep faster. Also avoid eating immediately before going to bed, there should at least be a couple of hours since your last meal, especially any caffeine or alcohol.

2. Fixed bedtime

Try to make a religious bedtime routine and stick to it for a few days. This is the easiest way to train your body into a sleep cycle.,  There is a lot more going on than the 24 hour day cycle that we follow according to the sun, there is a separate clock mechanism  in human bodies, that is called the circadian rhythm. A normal circadian rhythm is also roughly 12 hours light and dark cycle, it is under the control of some genes as well as plays a physiological role. At the same time, It is really easy to disturb that, and should be avoided at all times. Some of the aids hat you can try to include in your routine just before going to bed, can include having hot milk or chamomile tea. Milk contains an amino acid called tryptophan that is a promoter of sleep. A hot shower also helps in lowering your body temperature that can help you fall asleep.

3. Designate bedroom as the sleeping area

Your bedroom should only be for sleeping and not for other activities such as watching television, eating, working out etc. Once you get to your bedroom at the end of the day, it should be a signal for your body that you will be asleep shortly after.  Turn off or dim the lights and get into the bed without getting distracted with other activities.  Create a warm, cozy and comfortable environment, with anything that makes you feel comfortable.

4. Clear your mind, relax and try to calm down

Do not overt-think the events of the day or get into serious decision-making thought process. Just allow yourself to clear your mind from that day’s activities, or what is in store tomorrow. Don’t think too much about the upcoming events or the daily chores or anything that might cause anxiety or make you stressed.

5. Eat well, incorporating a balanced diet

Try to avoid junk food, and get into the habit of including a balanced diet in your meal. If your body lacks some nutrients, it tries to overcompensate by turning on some stress signals, which may interfere with the sleep cycle. Also throw in some regular exercise or physical activity in your routine, even if it is just walking.

6. Get up for some time if you still can’t fall asleep.

If one tries too hard to fall asleep and is still not able to do so, it only adds to the anxiety, and you are never able to completely relax. Get out of bed, take a stroll into another room, and try to engage yourself in something for a while that helps you take your mind off. However you should avoid engaging in over-stimulating activities, such as cooking, listening to loud music or watching television. Do something relatively boring, and you will probably get back to the bed much faster.

7. Keep some “me time” for yourself

No matter how busy you are, you should try to avoid cramming too much into a single day.  Doing so, doesn’t allow you to be relaxed at any given time. Also of course you lose those precious minutes from your night’s sleep. If you try to manage your time well and follow a rigid sleep schedule, it will also help your complete your tasks faster. If you try to manage your time and plan accordingly, you will fnd yourself coming up with solutions accordingly such as carpooling with your neighbor can save you an hour or so occasionally that you may spend driving your kids to school or to a ballet class.

8. De-Stress

Day to day stressors all add up and have a direct link to insomnia. The most important thing to deal with before you take care of your insomnia is stress. It is crucial that you don’t feel overwhelmed by your problems and feel in control of your life. Only then will you feel good about yourself and look forward to the next morning, and thus eventually reap the benefits of a good night’s sleep.

9. Check your medicine cabinet

You may not realize this, but talk to your doctor about your current medications, which could be as minor as some cough syrup, and discuss what side effects they may possibly have.  Many common drugs contaon amphetamines or cortisols, some blood thinners and anti allergic medicines can affect sleep patterns as well. While it may not always be possible to avoid those medicines, you can certainly check with your physician to find an alternative medicine that may work better for you. Often times, insomnia begins as a temporary problem and one succumbs into it by taking it as an additional stressor. This may be easily avoided if we are more aware about our body and make minor lifestyle modifications.

 


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