We all have different ideas when it comes to being happy and satisfied. While going for a long road trip is satisfactory for some of us, it could just be tiresome and a waste of time for others. Being satisfied could be as simple as reading a book for some people while some people feel satisfied after they bake a perfect cake. However, there is one thing in which we all unite in saying “Ah! That was so satisfying,” and that is a good night’s shut-eye! Good sleep feels nothing less than rejuvenation, not only physically but also mentally. The day we are well rested, we are recharged enough and feel that we can achieve the most impossible tasks.
Although sleeping is the most relaxing part of our day, the race-against-time kind of lifestyle we lead today has made sleep a precious commodity. Not to say that your career isn’t essential, but have you wondered how sleep deprivation could harm your body? As per the National Sleep Foundation, adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep every night. You fall into the sleep-deprived category if you fail to achieve seven to nine hours of sleep daily.
Sleep deprivation can impair your performance level in many ways and impact your mind and body at a much deeper level than you would like to believe. If you think a few days of less sleep is alright, here is why adequate sleep is absolutely non‑negotiable.
The effects of sleep deprivation:
- It impairs judgment
- It reduces concentration levels and memory
- It reduces decision-making skills
- You become less aware of what situation or environment is around you
- Your attention span becomes short, and you become slower than normal in your reactions
- You lack the motivation to work, lose alertness, and thus impair your work efficiency
- You tend to take short naps at work involuntarily, ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes
- Your tendency of getting fixed or lost in one thought increases
- Bad sleep + bad mood = bad temper
- You tend to make more mistakes and the tendency to forget things increases
While some of you may have difficulty finding the time to sleep, for others it’s the sleep conditions that cause disturbances in sleep such as frequently waking up to use the washroom, noisy environment, changes in temperature, etc., making them sleep deprived. Those who have insomnia find it hard to fall asleep, experience unwanted sudden wake-ups at night or have disturbed sleep. If you do not sleep well at night, you are bound to feel drowsy, irritated, and anxious during the day.
While doctors can treat insomnia with prescription medications, here are some natural ways in which you can overcome insomnia:
- Prepare for bedtime: Set a routine, something like a prep, before bedtime. For example, having a glass of milk, saying a bedside prayer, reading a book, etc., as the last activity you do before you go to bed. Your mind will associate this with bedtime and make it much easier for you to fall asleep.
- Comfort comes first: Nothing says its bedtime better than a comfortable bed. Make sure you have a comfortable bed and a quiet environment where you repose at the end of the day. Dimming or switching off the lights are typically the first steps that tell your body it’s time to sleep.
- Follow relaxation routines: Sometimes the greatest enemy of sleep is a troubled or racing mind. Try to calm down your mind and body using various techniques like breathing exercises, meditation, soothing music, dim lights, a blend of essential oils such as sandalwood, lavender, ylang ylang in a diffuser, etc.
- Bid goodnight to gadgets: Once you’re done checking your notifications or watching your favorite show, say adios to your devices. Set the alarm and keep all screens away from your bed at least 1 hour before bedtime. It may be hard initially to “switch off” but keep trying, and you’re sure to see improvement in how quickly you can fall asleep. The blue lights emitted from screens are known to affect the sleep cycle. Blue lights create a shift in the body’s biological clock that regulates sleeping patterns – the circadian rhythm – and reduce the levels of melatonin (a sleep‑inducing hormone) in the body.
- Restrict sleep time: According to some sleep experts, beginning with a six-hour sleep time or following your typical sleep time and setting a rigid wake time works the best. Once you sleep during the allotted six hours or your usual hours of sleep, add 15 or 30 minutes till you achieve the healthy sleeping period.
- Associate sleep with the bedroom: If you feel sleepless and frustrated on your bed, go to another room. Try getting into bed only when you feel sleepy. Follow these tips to recondition yourself for sleeping:
- Use the bed just for sex or for sleeping. Go to bed only when you feel sleepy.
- If you feel restless, go to another room and return to your bed once you’re sleepy.
- During this process, do not nap during the daytime.
- Try to wake up at the same time every day.
Not all of these tips might apply to you. You can start with 1-2 of these most relevant to your lifestyle and slowly incorporate more as you observe the benefits.
Sleep is like a reward for the mind and body for having worked hard all day. Make it a worthy one!