By Dr. Divya Mandial | 17th Mar 2023
Are you facing problems with sleep? Do you get enough sleep every night? Are you trying too hard to sleep but still failing? Do you wish to change your sleep pattern to get enough sleep?
Many of us have not considered how we sleep, as a body’s natural cycle happens automatically. But we all experience nights when we find difficulty falling asleep even when we are tired or wake up multiple times in the middle of the night. We also experience nights when we stay conscious, even in sleep. The feeling gives us tired and unpleasant mornings.
Have you ever given thought to why it happens? We could have scrolled some extra hours on Instagram or tried to finish the series the previous night which is interfering with sleep, or we ate something before bedtime that is playing around with our sleep.
It’s time to kick off these habits and replace them with good ones that improve your sleep. Here are 7 common mistakes you must stop to improve your sleep.
Research shows that screen time before bed activates our brain, which leads to shorter sleep duration, poorer sleep quality, and increased daytime sleepiness.
Our smartphones, laptops, and tablets emit blue light, suppressing the production of melatonin, a sleep-regulating hormone. Melatonin is naturally produced by the body in response to darkness. Its levels rise in the evening to promote sleepiness at night.
Screen cessation at least one to two hours before bed or use blue light blockers or filters on devices to reduce exposure to blue light. Alternatively, you can use Night shift mode on your phones, which will retain your melatonin levels.
We have all experienced that caffeine and alcohol increase the frequency of waking up during the night when consumed before bedtime. The effects of caffeine can last for several hours, and close to bedtime, caffeine suppresses melatonin production and make it harder to fall asleep. It also suppresses adenosine, a chemical released from the brain that promotes sleep.
While alcohol may temporarily make you weary and drowsy, it may also hinder you from getting into a deep sleep or Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep later in the night.
Nonetheless, you can enjoy your coffee for four to six hours and alcohol for at least two to three hours before bedtime.
Sleeping and waking up at different times can also disrupt our sleep cycle. If you go to bed at 9 p.m. and wake up at 6 a.m., your body will adapt to this habit and you will end your sleeping hours at the same time every day. Consistent sleep comforts our body’s natural rhythm or internal clock and increases sleep efficiency. Try to stick to particular sleep times, even on weekends.
Eating a too-heavy or spicy meal before bedtime can cause indigestion and increase the metabolic rate because your body takes time to digest that food, which imbalances your sleep hormones. So avoid eating large meals at least two hours before bedtime. Instead, choose lighter, healthier snacks and eat portions that are easier to digest before sleeping.
No activity can induce better sleep than exercising. It is a great way to start the day, but it could be better before bedtime. Exercise close to bedtime can make it harder for you to fall asleep. Exercising increases alertness and boosts your energy levels, preventing you from winding down and falling asleep.
Moreover, exercise increases body temperature, taking several hours to cool down. However, to fall asleep, our body temperature needs to drop slightly. If we exercise close to bedtime, our body may not have enough time to cool down, making it harder to fall asleep.
Finishing the workout at least two to three hours before bedtime improves your sleep.
Most of us watch TV, work, or use our phones in bed. These activities trick your brain into staying active and engaged while relaxing on the bed. Your brain finds it harder to associate your bed with sleep, leading to restless sleep. So keeping your bed exclusively for sleep and intimate activities is recommended.
Make a separate workstation for other activities. It will train your brain to associate your bed with sleep and create a more conducive sleep environment.
Knowing how vital sleep is for our health and routine activities, it is natural to feel stressed about getting enough sleep and ensuring that the quality of our sleep is good. As we do so, our brain becomes more active and engaged, which increases mental arousal. Our brain is still processing thoughts and sleep-related stress, making falling asleep harder.
Relaxing with deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help eliminate stressful thoughts and induce sound sleep.
By avoiding the above mistakes, you can create a better aura and improve the quality of your sleep. Besides, creating a bedtime ritual such as taking a warm bath, stretching, adjusting the lighting, lighting scented candles, and listening to audiobooks or reading will give you a satisfactory sleep. Other strategies that can help you with better sleep include:
Sleep is essential for repairing and regenerating tissues, consolidating memories, and regulating hormones. Insufficient sleep can impair our physical, mental, and emotional health, leading to various health problems. If you are having a consistent sleeping issue, get your sleep disorder diagnosed. This world sleep day, prioritise your sleep with the above tips.
Frequently Asked Questions
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder.
You should have caffeine in moderation and avoid sugar to cope with a day after a sleepless night. Also, you must take breaks at work, while exercising, or go for a walk and avoid attentive tasks such as driving the other day. Take a nap, but don’t oversleep that night.
Oversleeping can disrupt your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, leading to difficulty falling asleep or waking up at the appropriate times. You can gain extra weight and other health issues such as diabetes.
We need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. It’s best to hit the bed around 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. and wake up around 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., whatever time you choose; it is essential to be consistent with that time every night.
Disclaimer: The information given in this article is true to our best knowledge. Still, we recommend that you consult your doctor if you are experiencing sleeping problems.