Sound sleep is the key to a long and healthy life. A good night’s sleep is necessary for keeping all kinds of illnesses at bay. Sufficient sleep is the prerequisite for good cardiovascular health and a strong immune system. It keeps us active and energized throughout the day. It also keeps us in a good mood and helps us concentrate better in our work. Sleep is needed for emotional and psychological well-being. It helps us lead a balanced life and increases productivity and creativity.
However, sleep can be allusive. Absence of sleep or insomnia is a common sleep complaint and a health concern. If you are unable to fall asleep or stay asleep at night, if your sleep is sporadic and restless, if you do not feel adequately refreshed and rejuvenated after sleep, you may be experiencing insomnia. Insomnia can be caused by any number of factors, including depression, illness, stress, anxiety and hormonal imbalance. Excessive intake of caffeine and irregular sleep timings can also cause sleep deprivation. Chronic lack of sleep leads to daytime drowsiness, affects one’s professional and personal life and can even cause obesity.
Insomnia can be a symptom of undiagnosed health conditions. Hence, it is important not to neglect it. If you continue to suffer from absence of sleep or restive sleep, it is advisable to consult a physician and have yourself medically checked.
Solutions for Insomnia :
Fortunately, insomnia is not without solutions. There are a number of things one can do to combat lack of sleep. The first thing and foremost thing you need to do to keep insomnia out is to maintain a balanced sleep-wake cycle. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Doing so stabilizes the body’s internal clock and helps you fall asleep easily during bedtime and sleep soundly throughout the night. If you have insomnia, you may also want to watch your urge to nap during the day and oversleep on weekends. Avoid watching TV or reading late into the night. Refrain from using devices with bright screens an hour before your sleep time. The blue light emitted by LCD and LED screens of phones, laptops and TVs especially obstructs sleep. If you are a voracious reader, avoid backlit devices as they disrupt sleep. Instead, go for variants that do not have self-illumination. When it’s time for bed, make sure your room is dark enough for you to fall asleep promptly. Research has shown that exposure to light can instruct the brain to suspend melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone that induces sleep. Therefore, making the room sufficiently dark is essential for enjoying quality sleep. During the day, expose yourself to enough sunlight. Avoid staying indoors all the time. Keep your living spaces airy and sunny.
People who workout regularly or play some kind of sport, sleep better at night and are generally active and agile throughout the day. Physical activity increases your body’s metabolism and temperature and releases hormones like cortisol (a stress hormone) and endorphins (mood-uplifting hormones). Walk for fifteen minutes or jog for ten. Swim, ride a cycle or hit the gym. Any kind of exercise will do. What matters is your regularity. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the main causes of nocturnal sleeplessness. Therefore, a moderate amount of light exercise every day is necessary for a sleeping well at night. However, be sure not to exercise too rigorously too close to bedtime as it may disrupt your sleep cycle. But, if that’s the only time you can squeeze out of your busy schedule to exercise, opt for relaxing workouts like yoga and mild stretching routines.
Eat well. Drink sufficient water. Avoid alcohol before bedtime and limit your intake of caffeine and nicotine. They interfere with your sleep-wake cycle and make you restless during sleep. Also, keep your dinner light and lower your consumption of foods high on carbohydrates and refined sugar.
Keep yourself stress-free. Do not take unnecessary tension. Work and personal life-related stress can keep you awake at night. In this regard, meditation and yoga can help alleviate anxiety and go a long way in keeping your mind calm and peaceful. There are also other ways to reduce stress like listening to music, reading, exercising, cooking, gardening, etc. Keeping a journal is another useful way to fight anxiety and sleep-deprivation. It helps you unburden yourself and avoid the hazards of chronic-worrying. There are also various do-it-yourself methods to manage stress. We recommend finding out more about these and seeing if you can work them into your daily routine.
If you are still unable to sleep, try some deep breathing exercises before bedtime. Imagine yourself in a tranquil place. Do some muscle relaxing exercises like alternately tightening and relaxing your muscles starting with your toes and working your way up to your face. Make sure your sleeping posture is right. Sleeping on your sides is said to support sleep while sleeping on your back is said to obstruct sleep and cause snoring.
Do not over-stimulate your mind before going to bed. High-pressure mental activity or multiple mental tasks late at night can affect your sleep cycle. Hence, do one thing at a time, and reduce the intensity as your hour of sleep approaches.
Prepare your sleeping area well. Dim the lights and shut down all noise-creating devices. Keep the room temperature cool and pleasant. The bed must be comfortable and cozy. Also, if possible, use your bed solely for sleeping and sex. Avoid watching TV and working on your computer in bed. That way your brain will associate your bed only with sleep and that will aid sleep.
In addition to the above measures, there are products that you can use to help you sleep better. Sleep-inducing sound devices that produce white noise block sound and encourage sleep. White noise is noise with an equal mix of sounds from all frequencies. Examples of white noise are pouring rain and TV static sound. Some devices also produce brown noise which comprises of sound of low frequencies. Sound of waves lapping on the sea shore and water gurgling down a brook are examples of brown noise. You can also use Eclipse Curtains to completely block intrusive light and make your sleeping environment comfortably dark. Night sleep masks that cover your eyes and its surrounding areas are also effective sleep-inducers. Sleep headphones are another product you can try to block background ambient noise and help you sleep better. There are special cooling pillows and mattresses designed for improved airflow and extra softness. The Bluetooth-enabled C light bulb by GE is another device that can help you sleep well at night. The calming light it emits contains very less blue light and hence facilitates sleep.
To sum it up, insomnia is a sleep anomaly that needs to be properly addressed. There are various ways to fight sleep deprivation. While there are products that aid sleep, a change in lifestyle and sleeping habits may be needed to truly cure insomnia. Remember, the better we sleep, the longer we live.