Almost all doctors and other providers of medical services agree that getting enough sleep is very important to maintaining brain and body health. And, more specifically, sleep is highly important in avoiding and treating dementia, including Alzheimer’s. See our articles, “Is Alzheimer’s Reversible?” and “Combatting Alzheimer’s with Non-Prescription Supplements” for more on Alzheimer’s Disease.
Lack of sufficient sleep or disturbed sleep causes an adverse impact on a person’s brain and body. For example, a person faces difficulties in concentrating on work, study, mood swings, feelings of lethargy and boredom. Hence, a sound sleep is always essential for normal functioning of a person’s brain and body. A sound sleep accelerates energy levels, activeness, maintains a good mood, and enhances concentration at work or in the study.
Causes of Improper Sleep
However, due to the present sedentary lifestyle, many people are suffering from sleep disorders such as insomnia. It is necessary to identify the causes of inadequate sleep beforehand so that appropriate tips can be suggested.
Emotional factors – Grief, tension, stress, anxiety, brooding over the past or worrying about next day’s agenda are all causes of disturbed sleep.
Medical reasons – People consuming certain medicines are likely to experience inadequate sleep or sluggishness. Similarly, people suffering from diseases like asthma cannot experience sound sleep.
Habits and Work– Night shift jobs are resulting in severe problems in youth. Similarly, drinking excessive coffee or tea, watching TV or mobile screen for long hours before sleep are a few of the main reasons for this problem.
External factors – Sometimes, external factors such as excessive light or noise in the bedroom can hamper a person’s sleep. If the bed is not comfortable, then it may obstruct a person’s sleep.
Tips and Tricks for longer and better sleep
Having identified the reasons for inadequate or disturbed sleep, let us check some tips and tricks for sleeping longer and better at night.
The habits practiced during the day will have an impact on a person’s sleep at night. Some of the healthy habits are as follows:
Avoid drinking tea or coffee late in the as it will stimulate your mind and may make it difficult to “wind down” sufficiently at bedtime.
Instead of drinking regular tea, switch to herbal tea. It is good for overall health as well.
A daily fitness regime, of walking or swimming for 30 minutes will benefit your body and brain as well as relieving any stress that may make it difficult to sleep.
Meditation is a form of deep rest for your brain and body. For some people, meditation is almost as effective as sleep; however, some sleep is essential in spite of how restful and refreshing meditation may be. Many people report that prayer, releasing to God the worries of the day, helps prepare them for sleep. We are planning to publish articles on meditation and prayer soon.
It is best to eat the evening meal at least 3 hours before bedtime. Only light snacks are recommended later. It’s best not to consume sugary snacks close to bedtime..
Daily rituals before going to bed
Those who practice yoga report a remarkable impact on their health and preparation for sleep. In fact, there are simple Tai Chi and Qi Gong routines that can be very helpful to get you yawning just before you get into bed. You can read more about these routines in our article, Combatting Stress and Anxiety which you can find here.
Due to the increasing pressures and implications of modern life, anxious thoughts may be difficult to put aside at bedtime. However, making a list of things that you are concerned about and challenges that you will face in the future before settling down to sleep may help because you won’t have to worry about forgetting them. The Good Book advises “ . . . do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 NIV
It’s best to finish checking text messages or getting updates on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or other social media at least 30 minutes before going to bed. Then switch off the TV, laptop, computer screens, mobile phones and tablets. Your mind needs complete relaxation so you can unwind and drift off to sleep.
Similarly, talking about serious matters or debating with family members or roommates is not advisable. Try to resolve issues during the day so you don’t need to reflect on them at night.
If you need to study or work on the laptop, then don’t take it to the bed. It is always better to work or study in a different room or in the living room. A bed should be solely used for sleeping and not for working or studying.
Evaluate your bedroom. If you prefer a dark room, then get thick curtains for the windows. If you don’t care for total darkness, a night light will help you get safely to the bathroom if need be.
Setting your mobile phone to “Do not disturb” can assure that you won’t be awakened by the ringtones or notification tones.
If you do have trouble getting to sleep, sometimes it is best just to get up and go to another room and engage in a relaxing activity, such as reading a book or doing a word find or other non-challenging mental activity, and perhaps have a cup of herbal tea. Avoid turning on the TV or other electronic device and stay off your mobile phone. Playing whatever music you find relaxing can also help.
If you any serious worries or issues dominate your thinking at night, perhaps calling a friend or waking up your spouse to talk things over would help ease your mind. You might feel better after releasing your thoughts to someone you really trust.
Stress Management is an effective way for sleeping longer and better. Combatting Stress and Anxiety is the subject of an article you can find on this site here.
In this era of multitasking, learning mindfulness techniques can reduce the stress involved in daily activities, at work and at home.
A nutritious diet consisting of green vegetables, fresh fruits, nuts, pulses, whole grains, cereals, and legumes can help reduce stress levels.
Even with a healthy diet, many people benefit from supplements that help one fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Our article, Supplements to Improve Sleep can be found here.
At first it takes patience and perseverance to make new habits a normal, natural part of daily life. Stick to the new rituals and practices that you find beneficial.