What do you understand by a good night of sleep?
A good night of sleep should be without interruption, deep and refreshing of six to nine hours in duration (the average sleep requirement for adults is seven to eight hours and varies considerably in different individuals).
Four Important Factors for a Good Sleep Environment:
- Darkness - Avoid lights in bedroom, including night-lights or low power lights. Take care to cover the windows with blinds or curtains so outside light do not interfere with your sleep.
- Temperature - the temperature of your bedroom should be cool enough to necessitate blankets for warmth. Keeping the room temperature around 20-25 degree Celsius is ideal for sound sleep.
- Quietness - Old saying of “falling asleep and maintaining sleep is easier if your sleep environment is void of noise” holds more truth today. If it is not possible for you to have quiet environment then use of earplugs or a "white noise machine" is worth considering idea.
- Comfort - To have a sound and refreshing sleep use of mattress that is comfortable enough to support your back is one of the important factors of good sleep environment. A good mattress is not expected to leave you stiff and sore after sleep.
Important Don’ts to Have a Good Night Sleep:
- Consumption of alcohol before retiring to bed - This is a common myth that alcohol helps in sleep problem. It may help you to fall asleep but it does so on cost of impairing quality of your sleep. Science has shown in various studies that it causes fragmentation of sleep, so you will not feel well refreshed even after a full night in bed.
- Avoidance/modification of your current medications - Some of the commonly used medications have side effects of impaired sleep (insomnia), including number of herbal remedies. Before you pop up any medicine for your sleep problem, make sure to read the accompanying leaflet of your current medication and consult your primary care physician or specialist.
- Do not wake up too late - By doing so we are liable to get a "second wind" which will make it difficult to fall asleep even if it is too late.
- Avoid a heavy meal or liquids before bed - Abdominal distension and the need to pass urine are counterproductive and lead to disturbance of your sleep.
- Do not use your bed for other activities - Ideally bed should be used only for sex and sleep.
- Avoid exercise immediately before bedtime - It is a very healthy thing if done several hours prior to going to sleep. Exercising just before bedtime produces natural high which interferes with natural sleep.
- Avoid forcing yourself to fall asleep - If you are not able to sleep within 30 minutes after going to bed it is better to get out of bed and do something that is not stimulating.
- Avoid daytime sleep - Avoid daytime naps as they disrupt your body’s biological clock and rhythm. By sleeping during daytime you will not feel tired at bedtime and encouraging you to stay up. If sleeping during daytime is necessary, sleep for less than 45 minutes before 2 PM.
Important Do’s to Fall Asleep Easily:
- A bedtime ritual - This makes sure that your body receives a cue that it is time to settle down and fall asleep. This should not be a long and stimulating process. It can be very simple like brushing your teeth and praying for just 15 minutes.
- A regular sleeping pattern - Very important and often neglected. It allows our body's biological clock to take care of our ability to fall asleep on time. It can be set very easily like exposing oneself to direct sunlight for 20 minutes immediately after waking up in the morning.
- Having a light meal before bed - It will allow you to sleep soundly through the night without waking up from hunger. Take care of not eating a heavy meal as it will make very difficult to fall asleep due to indigestion, heartburn etc.
- Taking time early in the evening - It is very essential to relax your brain and body before going to sleep. Onset of sleep may be almost impossible if our brain is solving or working through day to day issues and preoccupied with problems of past or present. A calm, peaceful mind is necessary for a relaxed sleep.
- Taking a hot water bath before retiring to bed - Hot baths raise our body's temperature and lead to cooling of our body after the bath. This cooling makes us to feel sleepy leading to onset of sleep.
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