There are only two types of people in the world…
A league of extraordinary gentlemen who set alarm like this.
“Wake up call @ 7 am”,
And then there are the rest of us, lesser mortals, setting it up like.
“Wake up call @ 7 am, 7:05 am, 7:10 am, 7:15 am….”.
This joke is hilarious and accurate when it comes to the describing our sleeping habits.Sleep deprivation, just like cardiovascular illness, obesity, diabetes, and cancer is a tragic consequence of our modern lifestyle. Our professions and overall socializing habits have made the perfect 8-hour beauty sleep an elusive dream. We are collectively sleeping much lesser than our ancestors. Laptops, smartphones, and the internet are bombarding our senses with buzzes and distractions.They are keeping us awake and alert at a time when we should be snoozing in.
Perfect Sleep: myth or reality?
Sleep deprivation epidemic results in a groggy morning-after and a lethargy-filled day.
Not getting sufficient sleep can also result in long-term health complications.
And, if you frequently find yourself falling into the second category of alarm-setters (and frankly speaking, most of you do),there are high chances that you are following a regime of “bad-sleep hygiene”.
So how do you break free from this sleep-deteriorating cycle and finally catch that lost zzzs?
Follow these easy and effective science-backed techniques for getting a perfect sleep.
1. Respect your circadian rhythms
Circadian rhythm is your body’s internal biological cycle, which regulates each and every process within our body. Metabolism, activeness, immunity, digestion – everything is controlled by the circadian cycle.
The release of hormones such as cortisol and melatonin is also largely dependent on your body’s internal clock. Hence, the first step towards a quality sleep doesn’t start with your bed-time routines, but with the moment you wake up.
Sticking to a regulated sleeping pattern that is synchronized with the body’s natural cycle will make you sleep better. This will ensure two things.
1. That you get a fixed and adequate amount of sleep every night
2. Rest all the other internal processes fall back on a schedule.
And this includes not sleeping-in during the weekends to compensate the lost sleep of the weekdays.
Even if you end up being awake until the wee-hours make sure that you wake up at the exact same time you do for the rest of the days.
Try taking brief afternoon naps to make-up for the sleep debt.
So, the first secret to the perfect sleep is – Make a ‘sleep time-table’. Follow it rigorously
2. Get moving!
When it comes to ensuring a good night’s sleep – nothing beats exercising.
Human beings didn’t evolve to remain sedentary and tied-down to a desk job from 9-to-5.
Our bodies are not supposed to remain that physically inert and motionless.
Exercising and physical activities are closely tied to many vital bodily functions including our sleeping patterns.
Our body follows a pattern here too – the more physically active we are throughout the day, the better (and deeper) we sleep at night.
Studies have revealed that performing aerobic exercises (30 minutes per day) can significantly decrease the amount of time required to fall asleep and improve its overall quality.
This lengthens the amount of REM sleep that you get, the phase of sleep which is considered restorative and rejuvenating in nature.Additionally, yoga and meditation are equally benefiting as these tend to calm your mind and release “feel-good” hormones.
Hence, step two for the perfect sleep is – Involve in at least 30 minutes of physical exercise and few minutes of meditation/yoga daily.
3. You are what you eat (or don’t eat)
What is common between turkey, milk, bananas, almonds, and red cherries (apart from the fact that these are tasty snacks and meal options)?
They all contain an essential amino acid – Tryptophan.
What is it, you ask?
Well, tryptophan is the protein associated with natural mood-regulation of the body.
It regulates the release of serotonin and melatonin- hormones which are crucial for inducing a good night’s sleep.
When you supplement good sleeping habits with tryptophan-rich foods, it becomes the ultimate recipe for a quality sleep.
Most commonly available sources of tryptophan are milk and other dairy products such as cheese and yogurt, bananas, kiwis, cherries, almonds, kale, whole-grains, poultry such as chicken and turkey, and wild-caught fish such as tuna, halibut, and salmon.
Also, a cup of freshly brewed chamomile tea will help you hit the sack sooner.
Your sleep’s worst enemies are caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol (yes, you heard it right). Interestingly, caffeine’s effect on our body is opposite to that of melatonin.
So if you are consuming coffee or any caffeine-rich product such as dark chocolates, sweetened sodas, or energy drinks, alcoholic beverages (even wine) or smoke more than what your body is sensitive to, you will get interrupted sleep.
So, in order to get a good night’s sleep – Avoid night-caps, bid-coffee an early goodbye, and stick to a warm glass of milk (with some soaked almonds).
4. Go herbal or go home
There is a reason why the sleeping-pill industry is a booming, $41 billion dollar industry, which is expected to cross the $50 billion mark in the near future.
The reason being, almost 1/3rd of the entire global population complaining of various sleep-related problems and looking for a quick-fix solution for the predisposition.
For people who find insomnia or sleep-deprivation haunting them for months and years, the best solution is to include certain natural remedies designed to attain better sleep.
Valerian root is one of the most widely prescribed herbal remedies for inducing sleep naturally.
Additionally, certain essential oils such as lavender oil, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, juniper berry, and Roman chamomile are great natural sleep-inducers. These works wonder on a stressed body as these are highly trans-dermal (penetrates skin easily) and improve the body’s overall physiology.
So next time you find yourself tossing and turning on the bed, dab your forehead with few drops of any of these essential oils and see the magic happen instantly.
5. Turn your bedroom into a bat-cave
Have you wondered why cold, dark, and desolated caves make the best haven for bats?
Because, these features make it easy for them to snooze, even when it’s a bright sunny day outside.
If you also crave a similar, uninterrupted bat-sleep, turn your bedroom into the ultimate bat-cave (no, not the one where Batman lived).
What it means is that there are a few things you must equip your bedroom with so that you get a sound sleep every night.
These are few helpful tips that will help you with the set-up
- Get thick blinds and curtains for your room. Make sure that the room is free of any traffic or external lights.
- Turn off all the noises. Don’t make television a part of bedroom decor.
- Paint your walls with calm and soothing colors (avoid harsh yellows and oranges).
- Invest in a good mattress. You will be spending 1/3rd of your day on it.
- Keep your room clutter free and sleep on clean sheets.
- Your bed is a place for you to sleep. Not for your pet.
- Lower the temperature.
- Keep a source of “white noise”. It helps you fall asleep fast.Make sure that your bedroom is conducive to sleep and not a place to sit and finish pending office work.
6. Hush the electronic noises
Yes, we know that sending that work email is really important for that client-meet. And, we also know that bedtime is when you get to browse through your Facebook and Instagram feeds or just spend some moments “Netflixing”.
But what you don’t know is how using laptops and smartphones on your bed can spell disaster for a healthy sleep. These devices transmit light which confuses our brain (the pineal gland mostly) and interferes with the body’s natural melatonin-secretion.
Not only that whether you are using these devices for work or entertainment, our brain gets stimulated and alert instead of surrendering to the drowsy mode. And when the alarm starts ringing at 7 am, you begin the journey of unending snooze-halts.
Hence, the biggest change you can bring to getting a perfect sleep is by ditching your phones, laptops, and tabs before bed and opting to read a book instead.
7. Find the underlying psychological cause
65%-90% patients with depression also suffer from insomnia.
50% of all individuals diagnosed with anxiety issues are finding it difficult to fall asleep.
Stress and sleeplessness are invariably linked to each other. Sleep disorders many-a-times may have a deeper psychological reason. It could be the ever-increasing work-load of a new job or relocation to a new city. New parents are often more sleep-deprived when compared to other adults.
If you have tried all the methods for getting a good night’s sleep, it would be wise to seek specialized counseling or help. CBT or Cognitive Behavior Theory helps an individual get in touch with the underlying root cause which might be responsible for sleepless nights.
A subsequent treatment for such condition will not only improve your quality of sleep, but also the mental health overall.
8. Gadgets and apps to the rescue
The mention of gadgets and mobile-apps at this point would border on hypocrisy. Yet, interestingly you can make the best possible use of apps that can improve the overall quality of your sleep. The following provides a brief list of such apps and gadgets-
- Lark: It is a highly interactive app that keeps a record of all your sleeping patterns and provides you personalized tips on how to sleep better. The best thing about this app is after 11 pm, it strictly forces you to go to bed.
- Aura: This ios app closely monitors your sleeping patterns. You can also connect this to a white-light module which keeps the lighting in your bedroom at optimum soft levels to induce sleep.
- Jawbone UP: This wearable device can track your sleep cycles.It also co-relates it with your diet, caffeine intake, exercise levels. It is very helpful in identifying the possible sleep-related issue.
While these steps could appear a bit handful on the surface, they can be easily incorporated into your daily life.
With these 8 simple steps, you can come close to a guaranteed perfect sleep. So what are you waiting for? Try these proven techniques for getting a sound sleep tonight and thank us tomorrow morning!
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