In movies, we view scenes of people waking up with a start from a nightmare, or because there’s a blood thirsty psychopath or a ghoul lurking in the house. In reality, our sleep can get interrupted due to very mild distractions or even for no apparent reason. This can be a horror in its own right. After all, without good quality sleep, we’d spend the next day feeling fuzzy, agitated and lacking in concentration.
If it is a challenge to stay asleep throughout the night, you might want to consider making some changes to your sleeping habits.
Watching when and what you eat and drink can greatly help to improve your sleep. Generally, try to give at least two to three hours buffer time before your bed time. Don’t go to bed hungry or stuffed. Slot in a light snack 45 minutes before bed if you really must. But it’s not a good habit. Get your eight glasses of water in the earlier part of the day as drinking before bed can lead to midnight trips to the bathroom. Avoid nicotine and caffeine as these have stimulating effects. Alcohol before bed is also generally not a good idea as it reduces REM sleep (the stage of sleep when people dream), which can lead to loss in concentration and day time drowsiness.
Let your body know it’s about time for bed. About an hour before bedtime, put your work away, dim the lights, put on comfortable pyjamas, listen to soothing music, essentially do anything that will help you unwind. Relaxing activities can promote better sleep by bridging the transition between wakefulness and sleepiness.
A clean and comfortable environment makes a difference. It’s challenging trying to fall asleep in a room where the air-conditioning is too strong, or a room so stuffy and humid that you spend the night tossing and turning in bed. If there are mosquitoes in your house, you might want to consider mosquito repellent. Invest in some good noise plugs if crying babies (not yours), screeching vehicles and your snoring partner are a regular affair. Also keep your surroundings as dark as possible as a little light can disrupt melatonin production, thus interrupting your sleep. An alternative is to cover your eyes with an eye mask.
Power napping is another factor that can affect sleep. While these naps are lauded as the new trend to greater efficiency at work, keep them short, no more than 10 to 30 minutes, and only in the mid-afternoon. Long naps and excessive napping can make you feel sleepier otherwise, and also cause difficulties in achieving sound sleep at night.
Additionally, stay active, as exercise can help you to fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep. A research done by Northwestern University’s Department of Neurobiology and Physiology, in Illinois, US, reported that sedentary adults who exercised four times a week experienced improved sleep quality.
A little discipline goes a long way in improving your lifestyle. If you still have persistent problems falling asleep, do consult a doctor.
– This article first appeared in a lifestyle magazine