You have had a long, rough day and you stumble off to bed, tired. But as you shut your eyes, sleep isn’t anywhere on the brink of you. After what seems like ages, finally, you drift off to sleep, but you wake up in the middle of the night and toss and turn in your bed. The next day, you feel groggy, tired, and agitated throughout. You can’t focus on anything and keep yawning in meetings. Does it sound familiar? Well, trust me you are not alone in this. According to a research, 35% of the adults get lesser sleep than required and 25% of the teenagers worldwide get less than 5 hours of sleep.
What happens if you deny proper sleep to your body? Here are some health consequences of sleep deprivation:
· Lack of energy and irritability
· Lack of concentration
· Increased chances of vehicular accidents
· Increased chances of accidents at the workplace
· Cardiovascular related problems
Doing these simple rituals before hitting the sack can assist you to have a healthy, abundant, and refreshing sleep. The very fact that these aren’t just any random things told by people, but are backed by science and proven by studies, makes them worth giving a whirl!
1. Take a shower 90 min before getting to bed.
Science: Sleep is regulated by a clock situated inside our body called ‘circadian clock’, which in turn is regulated by body temperature. Our body temperature rises in the late noon and evening and drops before sleep (you can check if you want to!). So, when you take a warm shower, heat flows from the core to the surface. The surface rejects heat to the environment and as a result, the body temperature drops, which gives the body, signal to sleep.
Bonus tip: If you are confused about what a ‘warm shower’ means, the precise temperature recommended is 104-106º F.
2. Dim the lights a minimum of one hour before bedtime.
Science: Another important factor that regulates the sleep cycle is a hormone called ‘melatonin’. This is often referred to as the ‘sleep hormone’ or ‘darkness hormone’ because it sends a signal to the brain that it’s time for rest (melatonin is even given as a supplement for good sleep). Bright light exposure is known to suppress melatonin secretion, thereby causing trouble to fall asleep. So, think about using dim or red lights within the bedroom.
Bonus tip: Also consider having a separate workplace (or work as distant from the bed as possible). Studies show that our brain associates itself with the working place and refuses to turn off to sleep in the same place.
3. Read a physical book.
Science: We aren’t oblivious to the very fact that reading helps immensely in de-stressing. A study conducted by Cognitive Neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis showed that reading reduced the stress levels far more effectively (65%) than listening to music, drinking tea or coffee, or taking a walk. Also, as reading tires your eye muscles it’s natural that they’d want to rest and hence you would possibly nod off while reading!
Bonus tip: Pick up a light, ‘feel-good’ read instead of a murder mystery or thriller. I might suggest any story or novella by Ruskin Bond.
4. Try guided meditations.
Science: Mindfulness meditations not only teach us to be non-judgemental and accepting about our thoughts, but they also help to drift to the present moment. Isn’t it nice to shut the door to a stressful long day, bring our brain to this moment, and doze off?
Bonus tip: I would recommend a meditation app called ‘INSIGHT TIMER’. It has thousands of free guided meditations and the bonus is that they are categorized- you need to drift off to sleep faster or you need to sleep deeper or you want to hear some positive affirmations at the end of a tough day-everything is within the store. Also, don’t forget to check out meditation podcasts on Spotify.