Contributed by: Priyaish Srivastava
Getting sound sleep is extremely beneficial for your overall health. It helps boost your immune system, promotes a healthy weight, strengthens your heart, keeps you in a good mood, increases your productivity, and improves your memory.
There is a common misconception that sleeping one day for straight 10 hours can help balance the sleep cycle. Some studies prove that sleeping extra to compensate for lost sleep can decrease your ability to focus and reduce your reaction time.
It’s normal to fall asleep between 10 and 20 minutes after going to bed. If you are exhausted or sleep-deprived, you can probably fall asleep within five minutes of going to bed. Your sleep hygiene can be affected by several factors such as the amount of stress, drug consumption, and even the environment you sleep in.
5 most effective tips to improve your sleep hygiene
If you have trouble sleeping, here are the top five tips that you should include in your lifestyle, both during the day, and before you go to sleep, to achieve a good night’s sound sleep.
Go with your body clock
Your brain is the master of your body and regulates its every function like body movements, thoughts, memory, touch, vision, breathing, temperature, and hunger. The brain consists of a 24 – hour internal clock, also known as the body clock or circadian rhythm (Circa-Diem means ‘around the day’) which helps manage the sleep cycle.
To maintain healthy sleep hygiene, you need to work with this body clock and not against it. Here are some tips that can help in synchronizing your body with the circadian clock.
- Follow the routine of sleeping and waking up around the same time every day. After you develop this habit, the brain will set this time as your body clock and you will feel an urge to sleep and wake up around the same time every day
- Don’t ignore your body’s urge to sleep as this negatively impacts your brain health and your overall well-being
- Make sure that you sleep for seven to eight hours every night and limit or avoid daytime naps
- Waking up early and getting exposed to the early morning sunshine helps set your body clock
Create a relaxed sleeping environment
You are more likely to get a good sleep if your bedroom is clean, feels restful, and is comfortable. To create such an environment, you need to:
- Get a comfortable mattress that supports your back and the neck
- Maintain a comfortable room temperature
- Ensure that the room is dark enough. Use a night lamp if required
- Use your bed only for sleeping and intimacy and not for watching TV, talking on the phone, or other activities. This helps your brain to associate between bed and sleep, making it easier for you to fall asleep.
- Take a warm bath before going to bed, it relaxes your body
- Try some gentle stretches and meditation to help relax your body and mind
- Avoid electronic devices at night
Say NO to drugs
It is a misconception that smoking, drinking, and taking sleeping pills can solve sleeping disorders and improve the sleep cycle. Here’s why they do more harm than good:
- Smoking: Some people believe that smoking can help them in relaxing and sleeping, yet it’s a very harmful perception. Cigarettes contain nicotine which acts as a stimulant. The side effects of smoking include accelerated heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and can also develop sleep conditions like sleep apnea (a serious sleeping disorder in which sleeping repeatedly stops and starts).
- Sleeping pills: Taking sleeping pills may help in resolving the problems for the short term, but if consumed continuously for a long time, it can obstruct normal breathing and can be threatening for patients with chronic lungs problems like asthma. Regular consumption of sleeping pills can also affect the functioning of the brain by making it slow.
- Drinking alcohol: Alcohol features intoxicating properties and may aid in falling asleep quickly, but on the other hand, alcohol slows the functioning of the nervous system and causes sleep disruptions and insomnia symptoms in people who drink (before bedtime), as liver enzymes metabolize alcohol and lead to excessive daytime sleepiness.
Exercising every day for 30 to 60 minutes can help improve your sleep quality as well as overall well-being. Both indoor and outdoor exercises will benefit you, but outdoor exercises are more advantageous since exposure to natural light helps regulate the sleep cycle. However, you should avoid exercising an hour or two before bedtime as it increases energy levels and body temperature, making it difficult to fall asleep.
It’s time to sleep, but there are some things on your mind that have you occupied and worried. Such situations keep you awake and cause disruptions in your sleep cycle. Here’s how you can manage these thoughts before going to bed:
- Write down all your worries before going to bed. This will help relax your mind by getting those thoughts out of your head.
- Meditate for a while before you fall asleep, this can help relax your mind.
- Write down your to-do list for tomorrow and the rest of the week, this can help relax your mind and get a sound sleep.
To improve your sleep hygiene, you must understand what causes the disruptions, and implement the aforesaid tips in your lifestyle to get a sound sleep.
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