After a long day, all you want to do is hit the sack and get some sleep. But today’s hectic lifestyle often cuts into the much-required hours of rest. Late hours at work or an evening of pleasure might stretch your day into the next morning. And when it’s time to wake up, your alarm clock is all set to play bad guy and rouse you from sound sleep much before you’re ready to face the day. Experts say that an average adult needs a minimum of six hours and a maximum of eight hours of sleep every day. Yet nearly everyone tends to suffer from lack of proper sleep. Busy lifestyles and stress only make it worse. To help with sleep-related problems, some reach out for medication. But prescribed drugs can become an addiction quite easily. Here are much better – and healthier – ways to get the sleep we all love and need.
As kids, some of us were told to count sheep when we couldn’t fall asleep. It’s not visualising sheep in front of you that makes you doze off! Counting sheep is merely a way to disengage the mind from stressful thoughts which keep the mind alert, partly or completely, keeping you awake. You need not count sheep; try elephants if that’s more appealing to you! Or try a different animal each day of the week, and you’ll find yourself drifting off to sleep in no time.
Sometimes we were given a glass of warm milk by our mothers before bedtime. This was said to ensure a good night’s sleep. But it’s not the temperature of the milk that gets you on your way to sleep; some claim it’s the enzyme Tryptophan that does the trick, although no one knows for sure. Still, like mother always says, a glass of milk will help you sleep well through the night. Warm or cold, take your pick.
Instead of waiting up to watch the late night movie, going to bed early will help solve sleep-related problems. Stick to your early bedtime routine. Your body clock will soon adjust. If sitting in front of the idiot box de-stresses you, watch something that bores you. Yes, you read it right! Watching an interesting movie or the news, or reading an interesting book or the newspaper will only keep you awake longer. So, keep surfing the channels until you find something you’re not interested in! The more bored you get, chances are you will find yourself yawning in no time, making you shuffle off to bed.
How about running yourself a warm bath or a shower before bedtime? This helps soothe tired muscles, and you’ll be physically and mentally relaxed. Often after switching off the lights and sinking into the comfort of your bed, sleep just doesn’t seem to come, tired as you may be. You have a comfortable bed and surrounded by cosy pillows, yet sleep does not come easily. A good sleeping posture can help. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
De-clutter your mind from unnecessary thoughts. You might have a big day ahead at work, or the menu for a dinner party might need sorting out. Try to avoid thinking about these distractions when in bed. Run the plans through your mind and chances are you will be tossing and turning for a major part of the night. Putting your projects or chores down on paper before bedtime can be a good way to let go of unnecessary tension. You can even have a little night journal for this by your bedside, ready to store your thoughts and keep your mind free.
It’s best to schedule your exercise for the mornings. A late evening workout keeps the heart rate and blood pressure up, neither of which will get you to sleep. So, if you want to burn some calories at the gym or play a game of tennis in the evening, make sure you’re finished at least three hours before your regular bed time. If you are keen on a stroll after dinner, make it a slow, leisurely one.
If you’ve been having trouble sleeping, try cutting down on your caffeine intake in the latter part of the day. Replacing your evening cuppa with a relaxing beverage such as chamomile tea will aid sleep. A serving of dessert or an aerated drink along with dinner can spike the sugar level in the body, which can again keep you up unnecessarily at night. So try to keep sugary stuff confined to the daytime menu.
Sleep is your system’s way of regulating and relaxing your body and mind, without which it’s impossible to function. Try these simple techniques before the warning signals come out blaring. And sweet dreams!