July 17: HEALTH MATTERS
Are you sleeping wrong?
Bad sleep habits will lead to fatigue and poor performance at college or work
Blissful, uninterrupted sleep can rest and refresh you. It ensures you give your best to the day ahead. But, good sleep doesnâ€™t always come easy. An alarming increase in sleep disorders nowadays is proof of this. Grahak Sathi tells you what you may be doing wrong if you do not sleep well. For starters, your sleep environment should be cool, dark and quiet.
Sleep schedule: Establish a regular going-to-bed and waking time â€“ allowing for 7 and 9 hours of sleep. Do not oversleep on weekends as waking up at different times everyday can mess up your sleep cycle.
Staying up late: Many people compromise on sleep by staying up late and waking up early the next day. The best time to sleep is between 10 pm and 11 pm.
Sleeping next to gadgets: Research shows that the blue wavelength light from LED-based devices like phones, tablets, and laptops increases the release of cortisol in the brain. This makes you more alert. The blue light also inhibits the production of melatonin â€“ the hormone that lulls us to sleep. Stop checking your phone at least an hour before bedtime.
What you wear: What you wear matters as feeling too hot or too cold canÂ prevent you from sleeping well. Silk, breathable cotton and flannel (during the cold months) work well to keep your body temperature at a level that induces sleep.
Room isnâ€™t pitch dark: Your circadian rhythm is ruled, in part, by light and darkness. So, even the smallest slit of light can keep you awake.
Falling asleep with TV on: Television sounds are constantly changing in tone and volume, which can interrupt your sleep cycle and even wake you up. Moreover, watching something stimulating, like the news, could keep you awake long afterward.
Bedtime ritual: Adopt a relaxing bedtime ritual. You may want to get in a little work before you close your eyes. But this doesnâ€™t allow you time to unwind. Donâ€™t exercise close to bedtime either. Do not have serious conversations, say about finances or relationships, at bedtime.
Not getting enough sunlight in the morning: Light exposure early in the day reinforces the bodyâ€™s natural circadian sleep-wake cycle. It improves your alertness and energy in the day which helps you fall asleep at night.
Looking at the clock when you wake at night: Knowing how soon you have to wake up stimulates your brain and makes it difficult to fall asleep again.
Position you sleep in: Sleep posture affects sleep quality and people should stick to the position that they naturally adopt. However, sleeping on your back with arms at the side is the best sleeping position for your spine and neck.
Snoozing too long: Donâ€™t snooze longer than 20 minutes after your alarm rings. Otherwise, youâ€™reÂ at risk of falling back into a deep sleep stage. Youâ€™ll wake up feeling less refreshed.
Eating late and having a heavy dinner: Lying down on a full stomach can put pressure on your heart and lungs, making it difficult to breathe causing fitful sleep. Keep a gap of an hour-and-a-half between bedtime and your meals. Also, a heavy dinner may cause acid reflux which will keep you awake at night.Â
Consuming alcohol, caffeine or smoking: Alcohol prevents you from getting deep, restful sleep. It may also make you wake up at night for a bathroom trip. Rule out caffeine at least eight hours before bedtime. Avoid smoking as it acts as a stimulant and discourages sleep.Â
Urinary incontinence, migraines, magnesium deficiency, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), stimulant medications, nasal issues, anxiety and depression, and menopause are conditions that could prevent good sleep.Â
Poor sleep habits and sleep deprivation can cause constant tiredness; irritability and loss of concentration (and, in severe cases memory loss and hallucinations). It can also lead to loss of coordination (which may lead to road accidents); absenteeism and poor performance at work or school, and loss of appetite or the opposite, binge-eating.
If you suffer from poor sleep, instead of taking sleeping aids or stimulants that could become habitual become aware of what you are doing wrong. Practise good sleep hygiene.Â
Sources: www.rd.com, timesofindia.indiatimes.com, www.sleepassociation.org, www.insomnia.net, www.mydomaine.com