Sleep is an important component of human activity. The amount of sleep required differs with each individual with regard to his age,his physical and mental constitution,his work intensity and many other factors. But what needs to be stressed is that the quality of sleep has the same denominator for all of us irrespective of the many differences in our way of living. When there is deficiency in the quality of sleep it affects all areas of our life including physical health,social relationships,sexual health,productivity at workplace and a whole lot of other aspects which when taken together needs to contribute to a fulfilling and wholesome living.
Ways to improve the quality of your sleep
1. Associate your bedroom with sleep :
It is better to associate your bed and bedroom with the thought of sleeping than with any other activity.If you have had difficulty in sleeping for a long period of time,you may subconsciously come to associate your bedroom with being awake or restless,making it still harder to sleep. The following points will be of help:
- Avoid the habit of using your bedroom during the day.
- Go to bed when you feel sleepy rather than at a time you think you should go.
- Make it a point to switch off the lights when you get into bed.
- If you are not asleep within 20 minutes go to another room and relax by reading or listening to music till you feel sleepy.
2. Less of bed, More of sleep :
To establish an efficient and regular sleep pattern,reduce the amount of time you are in bed in order to increase the amount of time you are asleep. In other words,stay in bed only for the time you are usually asleep.
3. Nudge your mind to sleep with a set ritual :
Establish a set routine to help you prepare mentally and physically for going to sleep.The following points will be of help:
- Try to wind down in an hour or so before you go to sleep.
- Include relaxing activities like a warm bath, listening to music etc.
- Avoid stimulating activities which keep you alert like office work,studying,decision making etc.
- Develop an order in doing things like locking up the house,turning off the lights,brushing teeth etc.
4. Exercise and diet :
- Avoid exercise within 3 hours of bedtime as it stimulates your metabolism and keeps you alert. Doing exercise in the late afternoon is ideal.
- Avoid a heavy meal too close to bedtime. A light snack before bedtime induces sleep. A milky drink is ideal.
- Avoid caffeine related items like coffee,tea and chocolate 4 to 6 hours before bedtime as it stimulates the central nervous system which delays the onset of sleep.
- Avoid nicotine related substances as it has a similar effect.
5. Eliminate sleep worry :
If you are one of those persons who worry about not being able to fall asleep it is only natural that you will delay the onset of sleep still further. A better solution would be to not try too hard and keeping your eyes open as you gently resist the natural closing of your eyes. This is a psychological ploy to tempt sleep to take over.
6. Don't take the day's worry to bed :
Set aside a short time in the early evening to sort out the problems of the day. If new worries pop up at night,keep a notepad near your bedside and jot them down to be dealt with the next day.