Do you ever wonder whether you are under the attack of insomnia? Do you feel sleepy and lethargic throughout the day but just before bedtime you start feeling so overzealous that your mind refuses to go to sleep? Do you wish that night should have been your day or vice-versa? If your answer to these questions is yes, then you are not alone – we are legion. It is reported that more than 60% people in India are suffering from sleep disorder.
In that case, it is importunate that you bring a positive change in your lifestyle and food habits, and follow your to-do as well as not-to-list religiously. But, before going through the lists, first be familiar with the science behind sleep to be cognizant with your sleep cycle.
What Is The Science Behind Sleep?
Human body has a brain-installed timer, hypothalamus, which is accountable to maintain daily physical cycles including the sleep cycle. Sleep, one of the most essential requisite for mental health, physical development, and the coordination between brain and body, is characterized by a rhythmic cycle, circadian rhythm . Without a felicitous and adequate sleep, brain cannot function accurately for one’s cognitive skills as well.
The whole sleep phenomena is divided into two phases – REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and Non-REM (further divided into 4 more phases) – having recurring cycles of 90-110 minutes inclusive.
The Non-REM phase
The REM phase
After completion of both cycles, the comprehensive cycle repeats itself. The non-REM phase rejuvenates the physical health whereas the REM phase invigorates the mental constitution.
How Much Sleep Do We Need And Why?
It is reported that lack of one night’s sleep could make a person irritable and clumsy.
Depletion of two nights’ sleep could result to cognitive deficiencies and disorientation;
A deprivation of 5 nights’ sleep could make a person attain a level of hallucination where they report of seeing unrealistic things that is something visible to them only (Do never ever- ever never try to make yourself go through sleep-deprivation to reach hallucination).
Lack of sleep decreases the synchronization between brain and rest of the body, makes you sluggish, enervated, and eventually paralyzed in extreme cases. Sleep deprivation is initiator of physical illness such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular anomalies.
In consideration of the above facts, you must sleep adequately if you desire to remain energetic, alert, thoughtful, and awake during the day. Therefore, you might like to reevaluate some of your conventional routines.
If your habits constitute any of the following customs, then stop doing that immediately.
No screen-time before bed
Yes, it is bit indigestible to many (especially teenagers), because todays’ human mind and thoughts are so attached to the screens that when you advise “no screen-time for an hour”, they hear “no heartbeat for an hour”. Scientifically, this habit is considered hazardous to your sleep due to the light emitting from the screens. These lights diminish the sleep-boosting hormone, melatonin. The lack of melatonin also aggravates the risk of cancer. So, cutback on your screen usage – that applies to your cellphone, TV, video games, desktops, laptops, any other device which has light-emitting screen. If at all you have to use it for any sky-falling-emergency situation, setyour screen light lower so that it neither hampers your sleep cycle nor hurts your eyes.
No place for cellphones near your bed
Keep your cellphone away from your bed – even away from bedroom. After all these are electronic gadgets which means they could go wrong horribly with their own existence. There have been earlier cases when some phones’ batteries were melted and caught fire in bed. The reasons could be anything from incompatible charger and battery to heat produced by covered bed-sheets, you better got to be off of your cellphone for nights. Another compelling reason for not having phone beside your head is the electromagnetic radiations released from the phones which could be carcinogenic to human body. Apart from this, when people keep their cellphones beside them, they develop a tendency to check their phone over and over again – even they don’t know why they are looking for (Hey, it’s your phone only. Yes, the same phone that you used a fraction of seconds ago). Also, the notification sounds could break your sleep and could give you a near-to-death experience. So, for the sake of your good sleep, let your phone sleep in another room.
No argument before bedtime
Evening or night is the opportunity that allows us ample time to talk to our loved once and that also means that the probability of fostering confusions and altercation gets higher. If you get into serious discussions with your loved ones, then congratulations, you are going to have a sleepless night. In all such scenarios, try to settle the matter as much as possible. If you love your sleep, then do not go to bed with unresolved issues.
Keep these foods distant from your mouth
As the end of the day advances, do not eat any such food which could give you bloating stomach, heart burn, and acidity because it is going to make you feel restless throughout the night.
What are the most avoidable foods for night?
No Alcohol today: Alcohols must not be consumed before bedtime as this is metabolized by liver in long time. It could disrupt your sleep during early mornings with hangover headache and disturbed stomach.
No caffeine please: Caffeine is known as the catalyst of alacrity. Hence intake of caffeine – coffee, tea, or any such drinks – could give you sleepless nights.
No heavy or spicy food: These foods can give you indigestion and heartburn. It can keep you rolling on your bed due to discomfort. So avoid such food, especially just before the bedtime.
Give a break to nicotine: Smoking exacerbates the breathing disorder which leads to restlessness even at night.
Stop obsessing over your favorite TV-series or novel mysteries
The what-happens-next feeling is what encourages you to stretch beyond your sleep-time. Once you are past your sleep-time, your body doesn’t agree to go to sleep easily. Keep a tab on this vicious cycle and set a time-boxed routine for yourself.
Rub oil on foot-palm
If you have not tried this before, then try this technique for better sleep. Massage your foot-palm with warm oil. Such massage improves the blood circulation and avail you better sleep. This works as wonder.
Have some good-reading or journal-writing practice
Rather than wasting your energy in light-emitting screen devices, invest in reading printed books or writing your day experience nuggets in journal. These not only increase your reading, writing, and imaginative skills, but also keep your sleep cycle safe and intact. Moreover, who knows your journal could ever turn into an autobiography one day. Many famous autobiographies, such as The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, have emerged from the personal journal itself.
Yoga, meditation, light exercises, and deep breathing exercises result to relaxed and calm mental state rendering tranquil sleep. Be wary of attempting heavy exercises immediately before bedtime. It is recommended that heavy workouts should be wrapped up at least four hours before sleep.
Keep your bedroom conducive to sleep
From bedroom light to mattress, everything should be as per your comfort. The light should be dim, temperature should be optimal (preferably 65 degree Celsius), soft enough mattress, pay attention to every tiny details that comfort your sleep. You can also complement your bedroom with soft music. This acts as lullaby.
Try these foods for good sleep
Foods rich in tryptophan (the amino acid which enhances the sleep-boosting chemical serotonin) – banana, chicken, nuts, eggs, cherries, etc.
Foods rich in folic acid and glutamin (an essential element to regulate sleep-wake cycle) – all green veggies such as spinach, broccoli, lettuce,
Herbal drinks – tea with basil and honey, chamomile or peppermint tea are all good for your sleep.
Sleep well, eat well, and live well!
Shweta Kumari Sharma
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