Its 03.00 am, and you still can’t sleep? Scientific discoveries have shown that your brain actually has two systems. One helps you sleep; the other helps keep you awake. The wake system sends out signals that put your brain into an alert, or more active, state. This helps you wake up in the morning and stay awake during the day. The sleep system sends signals that help you fall and stay asleep at night but there can be factors that may hamper this sleep-wake cycle.
Sleep insufficiency may be caused by broad scale societal factors such as round-the-clock access to technology and work schedules which leads to sleep debt. Sleep debt or sleep deficit is the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep. A large sleep debt may lead to mental or physical fatigue.
Persons experiencing sleep insufficiency are reported to be more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity.
Now let’s look at ways we can overcome this sleep debt:
SLEEP ENHANCING TECHNIQUES:
AVOID CONSUMING CAFFEINE AFTER NOON: As any coffee lover knows, caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake. So avoid caffeine (found in coffee, tea, chocolate, cola, and some pain relievers) for four to six hours before bedtime.
MAKE THE ENVIRONMENT SLEEP INDUCING: A quiet, dark, and cool environment can help promote sound slumber. It may help to limit your bedroom activities to sleep and sex only. Keeping computers, TVs, and work materials out of the room will strengthen the mental association between your bedroom and sleep.
PRE SLEEP ROUTINE: Utilize your pre sleep period in some relaxing activities like a post dinner walk, hot water shower, reading a book. Avoid stressful, stimulating activities—doing work, discussing emotional issues. Physically and psychologically stressful activities can cause the body to secrete the stress hormone cortisol, which is associated with increasing alertness.
FIXED BIOLOGICAL CLOCK: Keep to regular wakening and sleep times. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day sets the body’s “internal clock” to expect sleep at a certain time night after night. Try to stick as closely to your routine on weekends as on the weekdays.
LIGHTEN UP ON YOUR EVENING MEALS: Eating a double cheese pizza with friends at 10.00 pm, may be a recipe for an insomniac night. Finish dinner several hours before bedtime and avoid foods that cause indigestion.
TURN AROUND YOUR CLOCK: Lying there awake, watching the minutes tick by, can make you feel stressed and anxious, and making it harder to fall asleep. Turn your clock’s face away from you.
DEEP BREATHING: Use deep-breathing exercises or meditation to help you fall asleep. Practicing mindfulness meditation before sleep has proven to be beneficial in having more peaceful and restful sleep.
HELLO GOOD NIGHT’SLEEP! 🙂