Sleep tips: There are many factors that determine our sleep pattern and the quality and amount of sleep we get. From lifestyle choices like habits and routines, food and diet to emotions, health conditions, or medications, all these can affect your sleep.
Do you have trouble sleeping some days of the week or do you consistently have difficulty falling asleep? Or, do you often wonder why you can’t sleep for a longer time? Poor sleep patterns have serious consequences as they can negatively affect your mood, energy levels, and ability to function mentally and physically. In addition, sleep deprivation can also hamper your immune system, compromising your ability to fight off illness and disease.
Research shows that there are many factors that determine our sleep pattern and the quality and amount of sleep that we get. Beginning from lifestyle choices like habits and routines, food and diet to emotions, health conditions, or medications, all these can affect your sleep.
Lifestyle choices: Some lifestyle choices including irregular sleep schedules, excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption, and lack of physical activity, can disrupt your sleep patterns and make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night.
Habits and routines: Engaging in certain activities before bedtime, like talking on the phone, scrolling through your social media feeds, or watching TV, can interfere with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Having a consistent sleep routine, such as going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, can help regulate sleep patterns.
Food and diet: There are times when you lose your sleep over acidity or bloating of the stomach. Consuming heavy meals, especially close to bedtime, can cause discomfort and indigestion, making it harder to sleep. Additionally, certain foods and drinks, like those high in caffeine or spices, can stimulate the nervous system and disrupt sleep.
Emotions: Overthinking, stress, anxiety, and other emotional factors can also impact our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. When your mind is filled with negative thoughts or you experience emotional trauma, it can become difficult to relax and unwind, which in turn can result in difficulties falling asleep.
Health conditions: Different health conditions, such as sleep disorders like sleep apnea and insomnia, chronic pain, respiratory issues, or hormonal imbalances, can hamper the quality and duration of your sleep.
Medications: Medications for allergies, asthma, depression, or high blood pressure, can have side effects that badly affect sleep patterns. These medications may cause drowsiness or insomnia, depending on their specific properties.
Importance of good sleep
Insufficient and poor-quality sleep on a regular basis increases the risk of various diseases and disorders, including heart disease, stroke, obesity, and dementia. According to Dr Marishka Brown, a sleep expert at the NIH, “good sleep entails more than just the number of hours spent in bed.” She adds, “It involves three key aspects. Firstly, it is essential to ensure you are getting sufficient sleep. Secondly, the quality of sleep matters, emphasising the importance of uninterrupted and refreshing sleep. Lastly, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule plays a crucial role in promoting healthy sleep patterns.”
Tips for better sleep
Many people who suffer from insomnia can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, which can significantly improve their sleep. Additionally, certain medications and mouthguards can be effective for some individuals. While treatments exist for severe sleep disorders, adopting certain lifestyle changes can help regulate sleep quality. Here are some recommended lifestyle changes to enhance your sleep:
Fixed sleep schedule: Remember the “early to bed, early to rise” that you learned in kindergarten? Well! It’s time to put it into practice, as it is crucial to maintain a regular sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s internal clock and promotes better sleep.
Healthy pre-sleep routine: Your body always listens to you. Inculcate habits like reading a book, enjoying a warm bath, or engaging in relaxation techniques such as deep breathing before bedtime. These activities send signals to your mind/body that it’s time to prepare for a restful sleep.
Comfortable environment: It is important that your sleep environment is comfortable. Use comfortable bedding, ensure good ventilation, and consider reducing external noise and light disturbances. Besides, using earplugs, eye masks, or white noise machines can prove beneficial for better sleep.
Ban electronic devices: Say no to electronic devices, especially the phone, before bedtime. Experts strongly recommend minimizing exposure to the bright screens of electronic devices such as smartphones and computers prior to sleep. The blue light emitted from these devices can disturb sleep patterns and hinder your ability to fall asleep easily.
Physical activity: Engage in regular exercise, but avoid intense workouts close to bedtime. Regular physical activity can promote better sleep quality and help regulate sleep-wake cycles.
Stress management: Practice stress management techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or journaling to help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation before bed.
Lastly, It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional or sleep specialist for advice and guidance tailored to your specific needs.