Sleep is one luxury that most of us seek but rarely enjoy. Everyone loses sleep over either the stress of achievement or the tensions of daily life. Student, professional, parent- no matter who you are or what you do, sleeplessness is something you must have faced, thanks to the 21st century lifestyle. We understand how irritating it can be when someone wants to sleep but cannot. It is like the body is deprived of the much needed and much deserved rest. Obviously, there are health problems that further engulf both the mind and the body. Then, there are also times when you don’t get enough sleep in terms of quality. We list here the 10 things that you should do right before bed for excellent sleep:
10. Take a Hot Bath (Not a shower, a BATH):
Studies have shown that when our bodies prepare for sleep at night, the body temperature falls down a little and continues decreasing throughout the night. On the other hand, a hot bath ensures that you increase your body temperature by about one or two degrees. This guarantees that when your body loses heat before sleeping, the drastic change from hot to cool relaxes you to a great extent. This is why you should soak yourself in a hot bath (you can scent it or add body oils to relax your muscles) an hour before bedtime. The important thing to note is that a shower will not work as effectively because then the water will not have constant contact with the body.
9. Keep all electronics away:
It can be very tempting to catch up with old friends at night time because for most working individuals and professionals, night is the only time they get to respond to social emails or text messages. However, the light from screens including televisions, laptops and mobile phones is extremely stimulating and can hinder with the natural sleep cycle. It sends signals to the brain that keep the body awake rather than allow it to dive into sleep. This is why we suggest that right before bedtime, you should turn off all forms of electronics and keep them out of your bedroom.
8. Keep your bedroom cold:
The exact temperature that feels good and comfortable varies for person to person. Typically, if you feel slightly chilled but not too much (that is, not to the point where you are practically shivering, of course) and not even to the other extreme where you are melting in the heat, you are all set for a good night’s sleep. The best way to do so, is to switch on the AC and keep it at your desired temperature fifteen minutes before you actually sleep so that the room is already cool when you get into bed.
7. Keep your room dark:
Another scientific trick to make sure you get a good night’s worth of sleep is to switch off all the lights and make your room extremely dark or pitch dark. The reason is that our bodies produce a substance called melatonin which promotes sleep. However, since this is a natural process and based on the natural cycle of night and day, any hindrance in the form of artificial light hampers melatonin production. So even if light creeps in through your window, hang a dark coloured cloth or towel to block it out. The idea is to ensure that the room is devoid of all kinds of light.
6. Read for a while:
Reading is typically a mentally stimulating activity and that is why it is important to ensure that you read something very light and not interesting to your taste. You don’t have to pay attention to what you are reading. This exercise mainly serves the purpose of clearing your mind of other stressful and stimulating matter and focus your attention to one particular thing that does not require much mental effort. It calms your mind down and prepares you for relaxation. So if you are a fan of fiction, read non-fiction. If you enjoy history, read comedy. Basically, perform a mental task that needs not much mental energy.
5. Avoid a heavy meal:
When the body is asleep, it is not supposed to be involved in heavy processes like digestion. This is the reason that you should not eat a heavy meal right before bed because it might keep you awake during the night. Proteins, especially, are very difficult to digest so you should avoid eating those for dinner. Even midnight snacks are a big no and if you really have to eat late, make sure it is a meal which is light on the stomach.
4. Yoga and meditation:
We are not talking about hard core asanas just before bedtime. The kind of yoga that should be done at bedtime is the one aimed at calming your mind and body. So strike a comfortable pose, sit quietly and focus on your breathing, say a quiet, spiritual prayer and just relax. These calming activities will lower your blood pressure, reduce your heart rate and prepare your body for sleep overall. The key is to quieten your surroundings so you can quieten your own mind.
3. Progressive Muscle Relaxation:
This is an activity that requires an individual to alternatively tense and relax each and every muscle in the body, starting from the head to the toes (or vice versa). It is primarily a relaxation exercise in which you ought to focus and pay close attention to each and every muscle as you tense and relax it. This has dual benefit-firstly, it reduces muscular fatigue and secondly, it de-clutters your mind of all the sleep preventing thoughts. The result is undisturbed and better quality of sleep for you!
This may sound like a remedy that would work only for a child but that’s a mere myth. Visualisation is a process that is psychologically proven to relax the mind and body, especially for stressed adults. It basically entails that you imagine a beautiful, peaceful and serene place that will let you say goodbye to your stress. So imagine a relatively less crowded beach, with a swing under the shade of a large palm tree and think of yourself lying on that swing, just listening to the waves crash on the shore. Doesn’t the thought itself make you lazy? This method is proven to slow down the activity of brain waves, pushing your body towards deep sleep.
1. Avoid drinking too many liquids:
There are two reasons that this should be practised. Firstly, too many liquids make you feel heavy especially if consumed immediately after eating dinner. Secondly, if you drink too many liquids, you are more likely to wake up in the middle of the night to visit the washroom, which is obviously a deterrent to deep and quality sleep. However, this does not mean that you will dehydrate yourself and not consume water even if you are very thirsty!
So if you feel sleepless at nights for whatever reason, try these actions and who knows what might work for you! Bodies and minds vary from person to person but at the end of the day, something will definitely do the trick for you too. Just rely on a simple trial and error method and you are sure to reach your saviour sleep improving action. Remember, patience is the key!