Sleep is elusive nowadays. It’s an epidemic affecting millions of people around the globe. And Why is this serious? Because, according to research, sleep deprivation is correlated with different kinds of physical and psychological disorders as well as accidents of many sorts.
Last week, I elucidated how difficult it is to be sleep deprived. We can all relate to the malaise, lethargy, irritability, depression, and general feeling of weakness of the whole body when we lack sleep.
But what is the remedy to chronic sleeplessness?
Again, it depends on the cause. It can be physiological, psychological, or both. That is why it is important to get an appropriate diagnosis, especially when sleeplessness becomes chronic to properly address it.
But for most of us, a few changes in habits and practicing simple steps will do the trick. Here are some of them.
1. Schedule your sleep – Our body is governed by a sleep/wake cycle we refer to as circadian rhythm. It is the mechanism that makes us drowsy and alert at particular times of the day i.e. sleepy after lunch, deep sleep close to midnight until dawn, and so on.
This rhythm works best when we have a regular time for sleeping and waking. Hence, it will do well if we sleep at the same time, taking note of the number of hours required for sleep e.g. 7-9 hours of sleep for adults.
2. Make your room cold and dark – In addition to sleeping in a well-kept and comfortable bed, a cold and dark room induces sleep. Melatonin, a sleep hormone, is released as night falls. Making the room colder and darker improves the release of melatonin. On the other hand, light inhibits its production.
3. Get some sunlight and exercise – “Get your Vitamin D”, our elementary teachers used to tell us. But not only that, sunlight in the morning stimulates the release of serotonin, a hormone which regulates our mood and even sleep. After 12 hours or so, serotonin is converted into melatonin, our sleeping pills in the night.
4. Watch what you eat and drink – Coffee is a stimulant. Drinking it hours before bedtime can disrupt the sleep for most people. Alcohol also affects sleep. Even if it initially sedates us and lull us to sleep, the rise of cortisol after the sedative wanes wakes us up suddenly and disrupt our sleep. Hence, the 3:00 A.M. phenomenon.
Try tea or milk an hour before bedtime. Milk helps release melatonin and warm tea has a calming effect on the body.
5. Have a purpose in life – How is this related to getting a good night sleep? According to a research surveying adults, having a purpose in life results in fewer nighttime disturbances and improved sleep quality.
It appears that sleeping well is already decided even before we get to bed. Get your life to purpose that will make you excited to wake up for the day, and sleep will be a sweet reward.
6. Clear your conscience – A clear conscience makes the softest pillow, they say. Bearing a grudge, nursing anger, holding resentment, and worrying too much definitely rob us of our peace. A distressed mind keeps us awake. It is important to learn techniques to calm our nerves such as meditation and breathing exercises. Examination of conscience before bedtime also helps.
Ask yourself these questions: Have I loved? Have I served? Did I matter today? These will lead us to look into ourselves and align our lives with the ideals of our conscience.
Come on now. Let’s get back to sleep.