While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night to function at best. It has been estimated that more than half of the working population in India have experienced some or the other form of sleep deprivation or alteration during their lifetime.
Globally, the prevalence of insomnia ranges from 10-15%.
Sleep deprivation reduces your cognitive processes like thinking, learning, attention, concentration, etc. Chronic sleep deprivation increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, irregular heartbeat, etc. Over time, lack of sleep can contribute to symptoms of depression and kills your sex drive. And yes, lack of optimum sleep can make you gain weight.
How to Improve Sleep and Sleep Quality
1. Stay away from gadgets
Using electronic devices before bedtime can be physiologically and psychologically stimulating in ways that can adversely affect your sleep. The more electronic devices a person uses in the evening, the harder it is to fall asleep or stay asleep. Using TV, tablets, smartphones, laptops or other electronic devices before bed delays your body’s internal clock, suppresses the release of sleep-inducing hormones & makes it difficult to fall asleep. Along, with increase in alertness at the time you should sleep, it, in turn, delays the onset of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and compromises energy levels the next morning. Over time, these effects can add up to a significant chronic deficiency in sleep.
2. Take a Lukewarm Bath Before Bed
Taking a bath or shower before bedtime is a well-known sleep remedy. This is because a warm bath can help us relax. Our body temperature tends to drop after a warm bath, which can induce better sleep. Research suggests that the best time for taking a shower is 1-2 hours before going to bed. The duration of the bath does not need to be longer than 10 min. This will improve blood circulation and stimulate “temperature circadian rhythm” helping you fall asleep, improving sleep and sleep quality.
3. Perform Deep Breathing Before Sleep
Breathing strongly influences physiology and thought processes including moods. By simply focusing your attention on your breathing and without doing anything to change it, you can move in the direction of relaxation. The 4-7-8 breathing exercise also called “the relaxing breath” promotes better sleep. Here are the steps:
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
- This is one breath. Repeat 20 times.
4. Sleep Inducing Foods
There are certain foods which can help induce better sleep.
- A glass of warm milk is a perfect beverage to induce sound sleep. Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that converts into serotonin. Serotonin is known to have soothing effects in the brain and helps you sleep well. Adding a pinch of nutmeg, cardamom and some crushed almonds will improve taste and sleep.
- Chamomile tea: Refreshing, revitalizing and fragrant chamomile tea has soothing effects on nerves and helps induce sleep.
- Almonds could help you support sound sleep. Almonds also contain tryptophan and magnesium which are helpful in keeping your heart rhythm steady.
- Avoid tea, coffee, alcohol and other stimulating foods after dusk.
5. Eat Your Dinner Early
When you eat late, you are unable to sleep because of improper digestion. An early dinner is good for digestion, helps in reaching your satiety value earlier and the body is able to utilize the food better and induce sleep. Eating late at night leaves the body on a high alert state which interferes with the circadian rhythm. Minimum 2-3 hours of gap between Dinner and sleep is good.
We hope these tips help you improve sleep and sleep quality! Do leave your thoughts in the comments below.