Key to a good sleep hygiene

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Sound sleep has been severely underrated in today’s time. Sleep has been linked to several major mental disorders making it one of the most important aspects of human functioning. Regulating one’s sleep pattern is critical for establishing a sound body-mind balance.

For many years, people have continued to underestimate the potential of sleep in maintaining their overall functioning. The body’s internal sleep-wake cycle has been guarding our body against various health concerns. Perhaps frequent travellers can discuss more on the overwhelming jet lag experiences and their impact on their lives. Yes, we live in the modern world where we have access to all the tools to keep us awake for the night, something that perhaps was a far fetched dream before the invention of electricity. However, with the advent of these new-age technologies, we have also created for ourselves various complications associated with a disturbed circadian rhythm.

Melatonin is a hormone that plays a major role in regulating one’s circadian rhythm. It is therefore a popular treatment for various sleep disorders. Natural light sends feedback to our body to help us regulate our sleep pattern. And such feedback helps us to synchronize our sleep pattern and thus improve one’s sleep quality.

After having established the importance of sleep in our lives, let us look at ways to regulate and obtain a balanced sleep pattern. Often people complain about trying to fall asleep for hours only in vain. What I would like to point out here is that such attempts can often prove to be paradoxical as often the need to sleep makes it more difficult for one to sleep like a defiant child at play. So let’s look at some simple ways to work towards following sleep hygiene.

  1. Lights off: Sound basic but keeping the lights on is self-defeating for sleep. For years now our body has adapted a mechanism to determine sleep based on natural light. Thus any form of light interferes with the body’s natural ability to fall asleep during the night.
  2. Avoid devices during sleep time: Over time we have developed a debilitating pattern of using devices to kill time before we fall asleep. Unfortunately, usage of smartphones and other devices stimulate our minds thus keeping us engaged and active as against feeling sleepy.
  3. Avoid any stimulating activities just before sleep time: As previously mentioned, anything that keeps us engaged and active is paradoxical for sleep and therefore we must keep such activities for earlier during the day.
  4. Avoid any stimulants like coffee for some hours before sleep time: Several individuals rely on this classic remedy to beat sleep and help them engage in different activities like night time studying before exams, working for extra hours etc. So we are aware that is works against us when trying to induce sleep.
  5. Avoid day time naps: No one can deny that the privilege of the afternoon siesta is one of the most treasured activities for people. However, day time naps can severely lessen the chances of obtaining sound sleep at night for some individuals.
  6. Set a routine sleep time and stick to it: One of the first steps to follow sleep hygiene is to follow a consistent sleep pattern with regards to setting a consistent sleep and wake time. Set aside a time for sleep and schedule all other activities accordingly.
  7. Set aside a specific location for sleep and avoid engaging in any other activities there: Association is a powerful tool that can work wonders and by keeping a space for sleeping exclusively, we can manipulate our body to induce sleep in association with space.
  8. A warm bath just before sleeping: A warm bath can set the right tone to induce sleep. We need to understand that we can discipline our body to calm down and reduce any stimulation to naturally fall asleep. A warm bath can do the trick to facilitate sleeping.
  9. Do something boring: What best than an opportunity to bore oneself to sleep! Remember those school days when we could not keep ourselves from sleeping when in front of our books? It is time to try this magical step to our advantage.
  10. Don’t try hard: When you find yourself unable to sleep then stop. Tossing and turning while trying to sleep can have a contrasting impact on our sleep. Rather it is wise to get out of bed as soon as you find yourself struggling to sleep. Keep the stimulation to a minimum and wait till you fall asleep and only then come back to bed.

So try these out for a few days and see for yourself how the body starts responding gradually to your pattern.

Veena Nair

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