Sleep is something that all animals require and the thought of spending one-third of your life in slumber is something most of us find it hard to accept. This book is an eye opener on making 33% of your life productive, and enriching and increases the probability of higher lifespans!
It is also true that many of us find sleep elusive, and many of us procrastinate sleeping over time. And humans are the only animals that deliberately postpone sleep and reduce the amount of sleep which has grave impacts on our lives.
I don’t mean to be preachy, but I have understood that benefits of sleep far outweigh those of staying awake. And here are a few things you could do to improve your sleep hygiene.
- Follow a regular sleep schedule. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends or when you are travelling. That helps your body to ensure your circadian rythm or our biological clock is set to your schedule.
- Avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening, if you can. Naps may keep you awake at night. In case you need a nap, do it before 1500 hrs (3 PM.)
- Develop a bedtime routine. Take time to relax before bedtime each night. Some people read a book, listen to soothing music, or soak in a warm bath. Try not to overschedule your day.
- Take a warm bath. This helps in increasing the blood flow near the skin and works on cooling the body’s core temperature which assists in sleep.
- Try not to watch television or use your computer, cell phone, or tablet in the bedroom before sleeping. The light from these devices may make it difficult for you to fall asleep. And alarming or unsettling shows or movies, like horror movies, may keep you awake.
- Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature, not too hot or too cold, and as quiet as possible.
- Use low lighting in the evenings and as you prepare for bed. The natural process of the body is synchronized with sunlight. Having dim lights lets the body know about the arrival of night.
- Exercise at regular times each day at least for 30 minutes but not within 3 hours of your bedtime.
- **Avoid eating large meals close to bedtime—**they can keep you awake.
- Stay away from caffeine late in the day. Caffeine (found in coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate) can keep you awake. The effect of caffeine is long-lasting and reduces the quality of sleep as well. The effect, in general, takes 8 hours to wear off.
- Remember—alcohol won’t help you sleep. Even small amounts make it harder to stay asleep. It is harder to go into deeper NREM sleep, and usually, the person ends up having a light sleep throughout.
- Check your medications. Common medications prescribed for heart, blood pressure disrupt sleep. Check with your doctor if the medicines can be taken at alternate times or check if they have side effects to sleep.
- Don’t lie in bed awake. If sleep eludes you for more than 20 minutes or you begin to feel anxious about being unable to sleep do some relaxing activity like reading under a dim light, listening to a podcast until you feel sleepy. The anxiety may further make it harder to sleep.
These are a few pointers that I have taken from the book Why We Sleep and an article from the Higher Institute of Aging. Most of these tips can be worked upon and can be squeezed into our schedules. I would recommend reading the book as well!
More Power To You!