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The Secret to Sleeping like a Baby

Let’s discover expert insights on sleep improvement, from tackling screen time habits to optimizing your sleep environment for mornings that truly rejuvenate your well-being

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27 Oct '23
5 min read


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You have been told from childhood that 7-9 hours of sleep a night is one of the most important things you can do for your health. But it’s easier said than done. Depending on your age, you may need slightly more. For example, teenagers need 8-10 hours, and newborns need 14-17 hours. To get them to sleep is a different ball game altogether. But we will get to that in the next article. 

Don't we all have those days when we yearn for insights into sleep-related challenges? Those nights when you find yourself awake in the wee hours, wrestling with the elusive embrace of slumber. Or perhaps you have trouble unwinding after a long day, resorting to your phone in the hopes of drifting off to dreamland.

You are not alone. We all have phases of grappling with sleep issues. While it's undoubtedly a prevalent issue, its severity can vary widely.

Disrupted sleep can have widespread consequences, impacting our mood and well-being. The good news? There are evidence-based strategies that can enhance your sleep quality, ensuring you wake up refreshed and ready to conquer the day. 

Limit screen time before bed

If you are like me and struggle with limiting phone usage before bed maybe it’s a good idea to delve into the ‘why’ rather than the ‘how.’ 

The last thing our brain needs is more information and stimulation before heading to bed.  Sleep medicine expert Michelle Drerup, PsyD, DBSM, explains in this article, “Checking your phone stimulates your brain. You're more active and awake. Even just a quick check can engage your brain and delay sleep.”

Studies also indicate that blue light emitted by your phone screen can also suppress melatonin production, potentially causing insomnia. So not only is this blue light harmful to your vision but also to your sleep. 

In some cases, it’s not even the light but the content matters too. Dr Drerup emphasizes that the content you engage with on your phone before bedtime has a more significant impact than the blue light emitted by screens. You may be exposed to upsetting content, leading to stress and anxiety that would disrupt sleep. 

Now let’s get to the ‘how’. We are aware it’s a habit. But we can break it.  

Try keeping your phone in a different room or invest in a clock radio instead. Utilize your phone's ‘do not disturb’ or ‘night mode’ settings to reduce distractions. What’s crucial is changing the mindset of the constant need to be connected. 

As you let go of this need to respond or scroll immediately, your sleep will improve.

Establish a wind-down routine

This might be relatively easier than it sounds. Signal your body that it’s time to sleep. Establish a calming bedtime routine. Think of gentle stretching, flipping through a few pages of your favourite book, or practising mindfulness exercises. The idea is to do something relaxing before bed as it has been shown to improve sleep quality

Avoid engaging in stimulating or stressful activities right before bed, as they can make it harder to fall asleep.

Optimise your sleep environment 

Your sleep environment really sets the stage for a great night's sleep. So, make your bedroom your sleep haven. Keep it nice and dark, quiet, and on the cooler side – you know, just the way you like it. If you need to, go all-in with blackout curtains, pop in some earplugs, put in a soothing aroma or maybe even invite a white noise machine to the slumber party. And, oh, don't forget about that cosy mattress and those fluffy pillows. If they've been around for a while or just aren't as comfy as they used to be, maybe it's time for an upgrade. Your body will thank you. 


Watch Your Diet 

Watch what you eat and drink – it really affects your sleep! Stay away from heavy meals, caffeine, and alcohol too close to bedtime – they're like sleep wreckers. Caffeine lasts longer than you think. As per the FDA, caffeine has a half-life of 4-6 hours, which means half the caffeine from your last sip lingers for hours, potentially messing with your sleep.

Thought alcohol helps you sleep faster? Think again. Turns out, having alcohol before bed messes with your sleep quality and quantity, making you toss and turn all night. It leads to fragmented sleep and frequent waking.

When it comes to diet opt for lighter dinners to avoid late-night digestion and acid reflux, as heavy meals can disrupt your sleep by prolonging the digestive process.

Exercise helps as well

We all know about this. But let me still reiterate. Engaging in moderate-intensity activities such as brisk walking or jogging can expedite the onset of sleep and promote deeper, more restful slumber. But don't go all out with a hardcore workout before bedtime. On the contrary, that might hinder your sleep. Prioritise the benefits of a well-rounded fitness regimen for improved sleep patterns. 

It works. 

Seek professional help 

If you find that despite your best efforts, sleep troubles persist, don't hesitate to reach out for professional guidance. Consulting a healthcare expert or a sleep specialist can be a crucial step. Conditions such as sleep apnea, insomnia, or restless leg syndrome often necessitate tailored treatments or interventions. Don't ignore it as your well-being is worth every effort.

Let’s not forget that sleep plays a key role in our physical and mental well-being.  The best way to go about it is to prioritise the same and integrate some of the aforementioned tips.

Who doesn’t want to sleep like a baby? 



 

Category : Health and Wellness


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Written by Madhuwanti Saha

Writer, daydreamer, procrastinator