When we talk about a good night’s sleep, what do we really mean? How do we really measure sleep? The duration of sleep is usually our go-to answer, but another major factor that must be considered is the quality of sleep. Our sleep isn’t constant, we keep moving between various sleep stages—or some the brain is more relaxed while the body tends to keep tossing and turning. Other stages could also lead one to a point of paralysis and alleviate the brain functions leading to dreams. Some stages are hard to wake up from when we’re in our deepest stages of sleep, but most of the time, it’s pretty common to wake up leading to broken, disturbed, unfinished sleep.
Various reasons can lead to unhealthy sleep patterns including stress, irregular schedules, noise and light disruptions, illnesses, or even something as simple as sleep hygiene. All our efforts of maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, drinking lots of water may go to waste if we don’t sleep well.
So, without further ado here are a few tips and tricks that will help you achieve a good night’s sleep.
1. Understand and accept your body’s circadian rhythm
The circadian rhythm is basically your body’s natural clock that usually adjusts to your current daylight patterns. For instance, toddlers and kids usually wake up when the sun is already up and get automatically sleepy when it starts to get dark. You can monitor this rhythm by keeping the drapes open for natural sunlight and dim your indoor lights as the evening progresses.
2. Opt for destressing rituals before you sleep
Just as your skin needs to be prepared for the night, your body needs to get into a relaxed state before you go to bed. Try warm, soothing showers, chamomile tea, light reading, meditating, or mindfulness. You can even try something as basic as sitting on your bed for a while and simply concentrating on your breathing before you lie down.
3. Maintain a clean, healthy and safe sleep hygiene
Start by shopping for linen that is soft, comfortable, and good for your skin. Check if your mattress is good for your back, clean, preferably without dips. If it does, you should try changing it. Try spritzing a soothing fragrance on your pillowcase that will help you fall asleep and keep your sleeping environment steady and constant through the night.
4. Understand the temperature needs of your body
There might be times when you drift into deep sleep but if your body is uncomfortable (too cold or too warm), you keep tossing and turning to get to an apt temperature, delaying deep sleep. Figure out your comfort zone, do not change the temperature just because you think you may need a colder or warmer environment in the middle of the night.
5. Have early dinners, so you don’t go to bed with a full and bursting tummy
You need to allow your body time to digest. If you eat right before you sleep, your body will be working hard to digest your food rather than relaxing it for a fresh start. Try avoiding ending your meals with desserts as well because sugars are very hard to break down right before sleep. Try keeping a gap of at least an hour or two between dinner and bedtime. If you get too hungry, munch on something healthier like almonds.
6. Do not force sleep if you’re not tired
We do this very often. Imagine going to bed all prepared to fall asleep, but you just can’t for some reason. We tend to stay in bed, tossing over and over again, waiting for sleep to arrive. But your body is basically telling you that it isn’t tired enough or ready to sleep. Get up and walk around the room, try reading in bed till your eyes are droopy, or make yourself a cup of light fragrant tea. Avoid forcing your body to sleep.
7. Rule out sleeping disorders by consulting a doctor
Various sleep-related disorders like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, or even disorders related to the circadian rhythm (most common in people who work in shifts) can have adverse effects on your sleep. If none of the above-mentioned tricks are helping you or if you feel exhausted and restless throughout the day or if you feel sleepy but can’t fall asleep, you could be facing some disorder. In that case, we highly suggest consulting a doctor.