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Are You Getting Enough Sleep? The Definitive Guide to Sleeping Healthy

Sleep

Have you always wished that you could be an early riser? Or have you always wished you could get enough sleep? If you’re looking for some guidance regarding your sleep troubles, here’s all the help you need!

How important is sleep?

Just like breathing and eating, adequate sleep is vital to a healthy body and mind. Sleep deprivation over long periods can be fatal, as your body is deprived of vital rest. Adequate sleep not only rests the body and keeps you active during the day, but is also essential for consolidation of the day’s events into your long term memory, which is why it is always advisable to have a fair amount of sleep before exams instead of having a sleepless study marathon.

Just how much is enough?

The question of how much sleep is enough is highly debated. Your sleep requirement is nearly as unique to you as are your other biological and physical features. Factors such as the level of activity you engage in throughout the day, your level of bodily stress, other health conditions, medications that you may be taking, ambient light (both during day as well as night), the sleep-friendliness of the environment in which you sleep, the comfort of your bed and diet affect how much you sleep and how much you need to sleep.

Kinds of problems you may be having with sleep

There’s a huge variety of sleep disorders. There are common ones such as sleepwalking (there have been cases of sleepwalkers who had driven miles upon miles in their cars and gone to work, all in their sleep! It’s true!) and insomnia.

There’s the Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders such as Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome aka DSPS where you tend to sleep late and wake up late and Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome aka ASPS where you tend to sleep way too early in the day and wake up way too early. These are disorders where your internal clock that dictates your sleep-wake cycle has gone awry.

There is sleep apnea, where your breathing is limited during sleep resulting in snoring, fatigue during the day caused by limited depth of sleep the previous night etc. and narcolepsy which is nothing but excessive sleepiness at inappropriate times during the day and other little ones such as Restless Legs Syndrome aka RLS where you keep having this urge to keep moving your legs and Bruxism, where you involuntarily grind your teeth during sleep; disordered sleep can manifest in a lot of weird ways!

For a majority of these disorders you may need professional medical intervention. Doctors may take simple measures such prescribing melatonin to get you to sleep at a specific time or  something more unusual, like light therapy to get you waking up early. But if you belong to that category of people who just need a little help waking up and feeling rested, here are some tips to get yourself back on-track.

7 tips for being a happy early bird

  1. This is going to sound dead obvious, but try to sleep early. Since the body requires a certain amount of sleep, you’ll be less likely to hit ‘snooze’ if you feel well-rested.
  2.  Make it a habit to sleep early and do so consistently at the same time for at least 3 weeks to make it a habit.
  3.  Do not eat late at night. Eat something light at least 2 hours before you intend to go to sleep.
  4.  Do not sit in front of bright screens or in bright lights before going to sleep.
  5. Try to set your alarm such that it plays the radio or some music when you intend to wake up. Also try to keep it at a place where it is far from reach but is still audible, so you have to get up to turn it off.
  6.  Light therapy – As soon as you first gain consciousness try to get up and get out in the open and be in the sunlight for 10 to 15 minutes or turn on the lights in your room if it is still dark outside. Do this consistently enough and you won’t feel like going back to sleep and your body will adjust to the new wake-up routine. This is one of the best ways to adjust your slightly awry sleep patterns.
  7.  Take a bath or shower as soon as you can to avoid the feeling of getting back into bed.

What you can better your sleep patterns

The National Sleep Foundation suggests the following tips:

1. Establish consistent sleeping and waking schedules, even on weekends

2. Create a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath or listening to soothing music – begin an hour or more before the time you expect to fall asleep

3. Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool

4. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows

5. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex (keep “sleep stealers” out of the bedroom – avoid watching TV, using a computer or reading in bed)

6. Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime

7. Exercise regularly during the day or at least a few hours before bedtime

8. Avoid caffeine and alcohol products close to bedtime and give up smoking

Hope you gained some insight on sleep and found some useful tips to get your sleep patterns straight. If you’re still left hopeless about a particular sleep problem you’re suffering from, it is best you get an appointment with a sleep specialist nearby.