How many of us sleep well at night or rather get a good undisturbed sleep. I was kind of horrified when I realized that my younger sister was readying herself to go to a doctor, thinking she is facing some dreadful sleep disorders. I asked in astonishment what made her think so. She told me that she is experiencing disturbed sleep with frequent awakening and sometimes she stays awake in bed at night for a long time, frequently checking the clock. This affects her whole next day as she feels tired and exhausted.
In today’s hectic and busy life, disturbed sleep is a common issue. I told there was no need to panic, instead make certain lifestyle changes. 90% of the time, the issue gets resolved without actually requiring doctor’s advice.
In this blog I have tried to list down as many possibilities, I could see which when modified in to our routine can give you a good night’s sleep. Based on your lifestyle and routine you can start working on it and see the difference.
For better understanding, I have categorized “Ways to improve sleep” into 3 major categories
1) Foods to eat and avoid
2) Relaxation techniques
3) Sleep environment
Foods to eat and foods to avoid
- Avoid having stimulants like tea & coffee, smoking, drinking alcohol too close to bedtime. While alcohol is known to speed up the onset of sleep, it disrupts the sleep in the later part causing frequent waking up.
- Pay attention to what you eat. Avoid spicy foods, especially at night. Don’t go to bed hungry or stuffed as it may cause discomfort and might keep you awake.
- Also limit drinking too much water before bed, to prevent disruptive middle-of-the-nights trips to toilet.
- Include carbohydrate and calcium rich foods like wheat, rice, pasta, milk and cheese, as they promote the release of serotonin, which is a sleep inducing hormone.
- Green leafy vegetables especially lettuce have opium related substances which acts as a natural sleep aid.
- Twitches and cramps can keep you awake during the night. You can have magnesium rich food sources like sunflower seeds, almonds and cashews to relax your muscles and hence get a good sleep.
- A relaxing exercise like yoga can be done before bed to help initiate a restful sleep. If you are planning a vigorous workout then it has to be complete 2 to 3 hours before going to sleep. A heavy workout will make it difficult for you to go to sleep, causing muscle soreness.
- 5 to 10 minutes of meditation with deep breathing can help you decrease your stress, relax your mind & body and help you get a sound sleep.
- Getting indulged in some activities which make you happy like listening to music, reading a book, planning for the next day’s work, spending quality time with family or any of your hobbies puts off your whole days stress, relaxing your mind and hence getting a good night’s sleep.
- Taking a warm bath just before going to sleep, also induces a good sleep because the sudden rise and then fall of body temperature makes you feel drowsy.
- Try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations or thoughts which may give you stress and affect your sleep. Instead you should try this one which works for me. I just write down all my stress causing thoughts on a paper and tear off the paper.
- Do not turn on any electronic devices televisions, mobiles or tablets because the blue spectrum light emitted from such objects is known to impede sleep.
- Noise: Abrupt, loud noises from inside or outside the home like someone talking in the other room, noise of television or barking of a dog, traffic can upset sleep. Steady and low sounds such as the whir of a fan or air conditioner, can be soothing because they help block the distracting noises. One can also put up heavier curtains on your windows, replace windows with double or triple paned glass or invest in some ear plugs to listen these disturbing noises.
- Mattress and Pillows: Make sure your mattress and pillow meets your needs for both comfort and support.
- Light: Light is one of the body’s most powerful time cues. The rising sun can wake up the brain long before the alarm goes off. A dark room is the most conducive for sleep – day or night.
- Temperature: The ideal bedroom temperature is 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 18 degrees Celsius). A room that’s too warm or too cool can disrupt comfortable sleep.
To conclude, I asked my sister does she really need a doctor. She can be her own doctor. What she needs to do is to maintain a diary and keep a track of her lifestyle activities and use this blog as a checklist. This way she can find solution for her own sleep problem and so can all. But if the sleeping issues continue then it calls for doctor’s intervention.
Photo Credit: healgrowtransform.com.au