Sleep is an integral part of every individual and almost every organism’s life. It is an event that occurs in cycles in every person’s life. This sleep and wakefulness cycle is maintained by the circadian rhythm. Sleep is very important in a lot of ways and so is sleep hygiene. Disruption in the sleep pattern or sleep by itself can lead to a lot of physical and emotional issues. Given the pandemic situation and the continuous lockdown’s, our day to day life has been affected a lot. There is also a heavy change in our sleep and wake-up schedules.
A lot of therapists believe that quality sleep is an effective way to treat problems like depression. Further, 87% of the population reported feeling well after days of quality sleep and they were able to effectively control symptoms of depression.
So, how can we get a quality and healing sleep? The answer is simple. By following good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene can be achieved by means of training the brain and body to know when to sleep.
To be precise, like a muscle that can be trained with constant practice, sleeping well is a skill that can be developed.
CONTROLLING CENTRES AND HORMONES:
Melatonin is a pineal hormone that induces sleep and mediates it seasonally.
Moreover, the hypothalamus is the part of the brain responsible for controlling sleep and arousal. In simple words, sleep hygiene is nothing but environmental changes and overall habits that pave the way to higher quality sleep and overall better health. In a nutshell, good sleep hygiene is putting yourself in the best position to sleep well each and every night.
THE BODY TEMPERATURE AND THE SLEEP CYCLE:
Sleepiness or drowsiness increases as the core body temperature begin to lower down. Also, this sleepiness can be observed in cases of fevers where the body temperature rises.
THE MORNING AND EVENING KINDA PEOPLE!
So, we might have observed two groups of people commonly. The early risers and the night owls. What is the difference? Further, is this even a thing? Many people have a lot of doubts regarding this. Firstly, a lack of awareness of this concept has made us stereotype evening kind of people to be labelled as lazy, giving excuse types etc. But, let’s debunk the myths around this.
MORNING KIND OF PEOPLE OR EARLY RISERS:
- The people who fall under this category usuallly prefer to wake somewhere between 5 AM and 7 AM.
- They prefer to go to bed by 9 PM and 11 PM
- Further, they prefer to have a very rigid ciracdian rhythmns
EVENING KINDS OR THE NIGHT OWLS:
- The people under this category usually prefer to wake between 9 AM and 11 AM
- Sleep time or retiring to bed would be from 11 PM and 3 AM
- Moreover, these type of people find it easier to adjust to newer schedules easily
Most people fall between these two categories.
WAYS OF ACHIEVING GOOD SLEEP THROUGH SLEEP HYGIENE:
Here is a list of some easy tips that we can follow to achieve good sleep hygiene.
TRAINING THE BRAIN TO STICK TO A CYCLE:
Routine or monotony can come in quite handy when we’re trying to stick to a good sleep cycle. In sleep, we actually trigger the autonomic nervous system. We actually can’t force our brains to sleep, but we can effectively train them. The point is having a wind-down time and schedule. This can be easily obtained through,
- Sticking to the same sleeping and waking up time almost everyday
- Try and set remainders and alarms. A lot of us possess smartphones nowadays. These have apps that help us achieve this schedule.
Let’s read about effectively winding down.
THE WIND DOWN SCHEDULE:
Our minds learn to associate sight, smell and activities with reflexive responses that are outside our direct control. Here’s where the wind-down schedule comes in handy.
This is pretty easy. It consists of some of these simple tips that you can perform on a regular basis to signal your brain that it’s time to hit the bed. For instance,
- Dim the lights and lower the temperature of the room and decrease stimulation.
- You can perform some quite activities like reading a book, taking a relaxing bath. Activities like these gives a sense of calmness.
- Further, avoid watching the television or performing heavy exercises before bed. Also, avoid using electronic gadgets.
- Cutting out the screen time before bed is very useful. The bluish tint that electronic gadgets like tabs, laptops and mobilles emanate, have a very stimulating effect on the brain . This is similar to the the bluish lights in the mornings which is a trigger to wake up.
- You can always use the night shift option in your devices which kind of filters the blue light adn shifts the display to a more yellowish or reddish tones that triggers calmness.
- Make it a point to use very minimal brightness on your screen at night
- Always use the ‘Do not disturb’ or the DND mode at nights and near bedtime. Also, make it a point not to check work mails, or other important things. This can act as a major trigger of stress.
- Try to have a routine during evenings that lead to your bedtime. For example, have light evening snacks, put on those comfy pajamas, brush you teeth, read a book, dim the lights and go to bed.
LIMITING THE SIESTAS AND POWER NAPS:
Sleep is something that does not come all of a sudden unless you’re really tired or under certain other conditions. Certain healthy habits and lifestyle modifications during the daytime can really help achieve good sleep at night.
- Limit your naps during the day to less than 30 minutes.
- Power naps are proven to increase performance efficiency. At the same time limit and perfectly follow thw timing and schedule of power naps. Never extend the timing and avoid afternoon naps at all cost.
CAFFEINE AND SLEEP:
Try to cut down on caffeine during the evenings and the night. Caffeine is a natural stimulant. This substance can keep you active and awake even if you want to rest. Consuming lots of caffeine can also lead to a lack of sleep.
It is equally important to consume a light dinner, something which could be easily ingested and digested by the body. Also, don’t dine late at night. Try and have an early dinner. Avoid heavy and spicy meals which makes your body perform extra hard during bedtime.
ALCOHOL AND SMOKING ARE A BIG ‘NO’:
Nicotine disrupts sleep in many ways. It is also associated with a lot of sleeping problems.
On the other hand, alcohol consumption can induce sleep on a temporary basis. But, once the effect of the alcohol wears off the sleep is disrupted. Moderate alcohol consumption or totally avoid them towards bedtime.
BEING PHYSICALLY ACTIVE:
Again, exercise, physical activity and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle can go a long way in improving the quality of sleep. And, always follow a positive daytime routine. Get outdoorsy if your job supports that. Or, try and get enough sunlight which is a key factor in regulating the circadian rhythm
Sleep is not a really costly affair. But, small investments in improving the place you sleep can help you in the long run.
Optimizing your bedroom is really important. A central component of sleep hygiene beyond just habits is your sleep environment. The bedroom of your home should provide a supportive and comfortable environment.
- Invest in a comfortable bed. The mattress and bedding should be really comfortable to the person who uses them. The sleeping experience should be pain-free and should match your needs and preferences. Similarly, the sheets and spreads should be tidy and fresh. Make it a point to give a wash on a regular basis.
- As we already read, cool down the room temperature and block off any excess light. When it comes to bedrooms heavy and dark coloured curtains serve the purpose well. Also, you can use a eye mask to cut off light.
- Drown down the excess noise using earplugs or white noise machines. The fan can also serve the purpose especially for people who live in busy localities.
- Try calming scents through scented candles, mild incense etc. This can greatly improve mood and calm down the mind and releive stress. Scents like lavender, lemon grass and rosemary can be really helpful. Choose them based on your personal prefrence.
THE GROOVY END:
To sum up, sleep hygiene is not always the same for everyone. It differs from each person’s perspective. But, some of the above-mentioned pointers can greatly help you to achieve good sleep hygiene undoubtedly. At the same time improving sleep hygiene alone doesn’t always help to solve sleep problems.
If you experience chronic insomnia, sleep apnea or other sleep disorders it’s always best to consult a sleep specialist or your physician. Also, self-medicating with sleep pills and overdosing is never a good idea. Always use a doctor’s prescription while going for these pills as they could be highly addictive.
We hope you’d follow the above simple tips on sleep hygiene and improve your quality of sleep. Happy sleeping!