Sleep is an integral part of our lives. A good night’s sleep ensures that your metabolism is revved up for healthy body functionality. But have you ever wondered what happens when you’re sleep deprived?
Classic symptoms include fatigue, mood swings, irritability, lack of alertness and impaired memory. Some of the long-term effects manifest into serious health problems. Chronic sleep deprivation causes high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, obesity, depression, low sex drive and even a greater risk of road accidents.
Sleep deprivation can be triggered by factors such as stress, anxiety, lifestyle, nutrition, insomnia and sleep disorders. People often forget to prioritize sleep due to their familial, personal and work-life commitments. But sleep has to be made a priority in order to ensure healthy body functionality.1
Is Sleep Eluding You?
According to research by the National Sleep Foundation, it is normal to take 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep once you lie down to sleep. This is termed ‘sleep latency’. If it takes longer than that, something minor might be amiss.
However, if it takes longer than an hour to sleep, it could be sleep-onset insomnia which could be triggered by anxiety, stress or other similar factors. Excess caffeine intake or jet lag could also contribute to your sleep struggles.2
What Should I Do For Better Sleep?
Keep your hands and feet warm.
A warm bath at night can dilate the blood vessels around the extremities of the hands and feet, rendering them warm. Researchers have found that warm feet and hands help the rapid onset of sleep and improve sleep quality.3
Avoid blue light.
A study by Harvard Medical School claims that ”Blue light is a potent suppressor of Melatonin”. When we switch on devices such as mobile phones or e-books, the light that they emit is “short-wavelength-enriched”. This means that there is a higher concentration of blue light than natural light. And compared to any other wavelength, blue light is the one that affects the sleep hormone the most.4
Switch on your favorite calming music.
Listening to relaxing music, just before hitting the sack, has been found to be an effective intervention in improving sleep quality and mitigating acute and chronic sleep disorders such as insomnia.5 6
Perform some light Yoga.
Yoga improves blood circulation, eases out those aches and pains and calms your mind, all extremely beneficial for a good night’s sleep. Here are 3 Yoga poses for better sleep.
Some more things you should do before you sleep.7
- Ensure that the room is dark; if you happen to get up during the night, ensure that the lights are low or install a zero-watt bulb; don’t confuse the brain into feeling that the next day has arrived
- Reduce late-night television, avoid viewing bright screens before you sleep; bright screens keep the brain stimulated
- Make better napping choices; sleeping too long in the day will disturb your sleep quality at night
- Stick to a consistent sleep-wake schedule; habits are comforting for the brain
- Reduce high liquid intake; so you don’t have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night
- Avoid alcohol and heavy meals; don’t give your body something extra to do when its getting ready to shut down
- Resist that midnight snack; you don’t want to boost your energy levels, do you?
Despite all of these cautionary measures, if you still feel that you are unable to sleep well, there could be an underlying condition that could require medical help. It is best to consult your medical practitioner or doctor about the necessary changes you need to make to ensure a better night’s sleep.
|↑1||What Happens to Your Body When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep, Cleveland Clinic.|
|↑2||How Long Should It Take You to Fall Asleep? National Sleep Foundation.|
|↑3||Kräuchi, Kurt, et al. “Physiology: warm feet promote the rapid onset of sleep.” Nature 401.6748 (1999): 36-37.|
|↑4||Blue light has a dark side, Harvard Health Publications.|
|↑5||Harmat, Laszlo, Johanna Takács, and Robert Bodizs. “Music improves sleep quality in students.” Journal of advanced nursing 62.3 (2008): 327-335.|
|↑6||Wang, Chun-Fang, Ying-Li Sun, and Hong-Xin Zang. “Music therapy improves sleep quality in acute and chronic sleep disorders: A meta-analysis of 10 randomized studies.” International journal of nursing studies 51.1 (2014): 51-62.|
|↑7||How to Sleep Better, Help Guide.|