Before asking the question ‘How to sleep properly?‘, let us have a look at why a proper sleep is essential.
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How to know if I have sleep deficiency?
The lifestyle and job pressure these days make it next to impossible to get a quality sleep. It is common for people nowadays to feel lethargic throughout and have constant headaches. If you suffer from most of the below symptoms then you may be suffering from a low quality sleep:
- Lack of energy and excessive sleepiness during daytime
- Poor retention capabilities and difficulty in sustaining attention
- Constant mild headaches
- Eye burns and tearing
- Feeling jumbled in the head
- Anxiety and mild depression
- A loss of interest in doing anything
- Making too many clumsy mistakes
What affects my quality of sleep?
The primary reason that deprives you of getting a sleep of good quality is stress. Stress can be brought about by something as trivial as an argument or traffic. Thankfully, these trivial matters only cause a mild stress for a brief amount of time, typically a day.
But there are other factors which induce stress such as job pressure or relationship commitments that have a potential to cause a long-term stress. As your mind is racing on different thoughts when you are stressed, it is often extremely difficult to grab some shut-eye. Long-term stress, therefore, has a very high chance of developing insomnia.
Combatting stress is more difficult said than done, but stress generally only last as long as the situation that causes it. Smelling lavender, sleeping in herbal pillows and tinctures of marijuana and other herbs not only help relieve a bit of stress but also make you drowsy. But do remember to leave the habit of using tincture once the stressful situation is resolved. You may develop a dependency otherwise.
Wanna know how to make tinctures at home? Click here
If a stressful situation is such that it persists, such as your job. Then it is the opposite of wise to use a substance to aid your stress and help you sleep. You will just develop an addiction and go deeper down the rabbit hole. The best strategy in such a case is to take action and remove the situation from your life. eg, if you feel stuck in your job then it is better to gather a bit of courage, learn a new craft and leave the job. Mental and physical health, in each and every case, is better than any monetary compensation.
Environmental Factors also play a huge part in dictating your quality of sleep. The environment you are sleeping may be too hot or too cold. It may be extremely bright or noisy. You may have to sleep with someone who snores a lot or sleeps with the lights on.
All these, however, can be overcome by buying temperature regulators, earplugs and sleep masks for eyes.
Due to occupational commitments, you may be forced to deprioritize your sleep. You may be forced to work in shifts due to the nature of your job. Or your job may require you to travel constantly. Either way, it will disrupt your regular sleep cycle, which may lead to complication further in the future.
What are the consequences of not getting a good sleep?
It can make you fat
If you are not getting a good quality sleep then studies suggest that you may be at a risk of gaining weight and obesity. Extensive research has revealed the numbers that children not getting adequate sleep were 89% more likely to become obese. In the case of adults, it was 55%.
Various hormonal imbalances can occur due to lack of adequate sleep, which may lead to weight gain. It also leaves you tired and lethargic, which makes it impossible to motivate yourself to lose weight.
It can increase your risk of Heart diseases and stroke
Regardless of your age, metabolism or whether you smoke or not, it has been observed that lack of quality sleep drastically increases your chance of getting a cardiovascular disease. Not only is it important how to sleep properly, the duration of sleep is also important. This is because your risk increases even if you have a deficiency of sleep or oversleep.
Lack of quality sleep causes disruption in your biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammation which increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
It can increase your risk of Type-2 diabetes
Unhealthy sleeping habit affects glucose metabolism and reduces insulin sensitivity. It can thus increase your blood sugar level. Studies have conclusively shown that individuals sleeping for less than 6hours continuously are at a heavily increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
It can negatively impact your emotions and social interaction
Inadequate sleep can make your emotions volatile. This leads to you making quick and short-tempered decisions. It also impairs your judgment towards emotional information. Thus, you could react very inappropriately towards gestures and conversations.
It has also been studied that sleep-deprived individuals have a difficulty in understanding and gauging facial expressions. Most of the expressions are regarded as threatening and hence people lacking sleep avoid social interactions as they tend to get irritated easily.
It can lead to depression
Lack of adequate sleep and sleeping disorders have been strongly linked to depression. It has been observed that more than 80% of people with depression complained of sleep disorder of some sort.
It can lead to alcoholism and substance abuse
In order to get proper sleep individuals may resort to abusing substances and may develop an addiction towards it. Alcohol should never be taken as a remedy for sleep deprivation as it tends to wake you up in the middle of the night when the effect wears off.
What are the benefits of getting a good quality sleep?
It can improve your attention span
General observation, as well as research, has shown that if you are properly rested, your powers of cognition and concentration are increased. A study performed on medical interns elaborates this point properly.
A bunch of medical interns was observed over a period of a few days. They were divided into two groups. One group were scheduled to work for extended hours with no sleep. The other group was allowed adequate sleep. It was observed that interns who were scheduled to work for extended hours made 36% more medical errors as compared to the other group.
There was also another test conducted by BBC 5th Gear to see if it was more dangerous to drive intoxicated or sleep deprived. Surprisingly under the influence of moderate amounts of alcohol, the driver drove perfectly, without swerving even once. But a very dangerous observation was made when he drove having stayed awake for more than 24 hours.
The driver swerved multiple times but when asked later he thought that he had driven perfectly without even swerving once.
It can improve your athletic performance
Extensive research has been done on this subject and athletes are mandatorily advised to get a proper sleep before any match or practice. Longer sleep has been shown to significantly improve stamina, speed, precision and response time.
It can boost your creativity and productivity
Having a writer’s block or stuck in your project? Go to sleep while thinking about your subject. Your brain will not only structure and coordinate your memory but it may also restructure and consolidate new patterns that will help you to overcome that hurdle of imaginative block automatically.
Your beautiful brain works on overdrive for you while you sleep.
It can curb your inflammation
Inflammation is linked to various cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, diabetes, and premature aging. If you are not getting 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep, then you are at a higher chance of developing inflammation.
It can lower your stress, avoid depression and help you live longer
You can easily see the benefits of getting an adequate uninterrupted sleep. It can help you keep your blood pressure in check. Getting a quality sleep can also help you maintain a better emotional stability and make you less anxious.
It will also help you reduce your level of stress and make you more vigilant and attentive. In this way, you can live a more cheerful and longer life.
How to sleep properly?
As you have seen by now, sleeping properly is extremely beneficial to your health. It is as important as maintaining a proper diet or working out.
So let us take a look at the few methods on how to sleep properly and achieve quality sleep.
Avoid sleeping during the daytime
I personally know how difficult it can be to rid yourself of the habit of sleeping during the daytime. During my university days, my classes would end by 12:30 and I would spend the whole afternoon taking a nap.
To this day I have not fully got rid of the habit. Sleeping during the day can disrupt your natural sleep cycle. Thus you may find it difficult to fall asleep during the night or wake up in the middle of it.
This makes it very difficult to get an uninterrupted 6 hours of quality sleep.
Take a relaxing warm bath or shower
Taking a warm bath an hour before sleeping relaxes your body. If you can meditate in your warm bath, then it will double your relaxation.
Not only will it help you relax but after the warm bath, your body will cool down to the temperature of the environment. This will help to regulate your body temperature which will help you doze off much easier.
If you can, try to apply an aromatic lotion after the bath.
Ditch your undergarments
If you have not tried it yet and if you can, do sleep naked once. I will guarantee that you will not go back to the decency of sleeping with your clothes on.
Not only will it help to regulate your body temperature better but you will feel as if some invisible shackle has been lifted off your body. But just as a precaution keep a blanket in the side in case it becomes cold during the morning when the temperature inverts.
So if it is not too cold, ditch your sleeping suit for your birthday suit.
Avoid drinking any liquid before going to bed
If you need to drink any form of a liquid, do it at least 1-2 hours before sleeping. It can build up a pressure in your urinary bladder and you may have to wake up in the middle of the night or worse, wet your bed.
If you do not get uninterrupted sleep regularly, your ‘sleep debt’ builds up and may lead to conditions like sleep apnea.
It is a particularly bad idea to drink alcohol before sleeping. Alcohol intake before going to bed can negatively affect your sleep quality and mess with your hormones. It can induce snoring and disrupt your sleeping pattern.
This can lead to a feeling of tiredness even if you get adequate sleep and can increase your ‘sleep debt’. Studies have found that alcohol intake during the night can decrease the production of Growth Hormone, which plays an important role in circadian rhythm.
Reduce bright and blue light exposure during the evening
As we are all aware, our body has a natural timekeeping clock which is called the circadian rhythm. It can affect your body, mental health, and hormones if this rhythm is disrupted regularly.
Exposing ourselves to bright and blue light can confuse our body and disrupt the circadian rhythm.
Due to the nature of our jobs, it may be difficult for some to avoid this. Some of the things that we can do regardless of our job are,
- Wear glasses with an anti-reflective coating
- Looking away from our computer screens into distant walls for at least 20 seconds at regular intervals
- Download applications that block blue light emission from your gadgets
- Avoid using the phone or watching TV, at least half an hour before going to bed.
Using a comfortable mattress and pillow
Sleep in a comfortable that is not too firm or too soft. Firm mattresses can push at your pressure points hard and may make them misaligned. Too soft mattress, on the other hand, cannot support those pressure points properly. Go shopping for a proper mattress, it is worth your investment. You will instantly know which one is right for you by feeling it.
While choosing a pillow, make sure that it is of the proper size. If it is too thin, your head will tilt backwards. If you stack too much then your neck may be bent at an awkward angle.
Both the cases are uncomfortable and may result in neck pain. The goal is to put your neck in a neutral position. Your nose should line to the center of your body when you sleep sideways.
Also, try placing a pillow between your legs if you sleep on your side and under your legs if you sleep on your back. This will support your hips and make you feel much more comfortable.
You should either sleep on your back on your left side. Avoid sleeping on your stomach or on the right side.
The best position to sleep is on your back with a pillow under your legs. Your head and neck should be roughly straight and your body should follow the mid line.
If you sleep on your left side, your neck should be in the neutral position. Place a pillow between your legs and try not to bend your knees a lot.
Sleeping in your stomach is more likely to cause aches and pains. If you sleep on your right side, it may cause indigestion problems and even acid reflux.
Curb your caffeine
Coffee is fine in the morning to wake you up. But avoid consuming coffee or chocolates during the evenings. It can affect your sleep later on in the night.
Workout during the day
Working out at least 4 hours before your bedtime can help you fall asleep faster than any pill. But be careful to avoid a rigorous exercise close to your bedtime or during late evenings as the burst of energy can keep you awake for a while.
Meditation in the dark
Before going to bed, dim the lights and stay alone with your thoughts for a while. It is a great mental exercise and also helps you ease into your nap. The lower light levels will help produce melatonin, which will help you sleep.
If you have the habit of sleeping under a ceiling fan, you may have noticed that it helps you fall asleep. Besides blocking noise, the sound of the rotating fan blades also induces sleep.
There are plenty of white noise machines or applications that you can use, which will most definitely help you to fall asleep.
If you are one of the very lucky few who has someone that can give you a regular massage, then utilize the opportunity. Do not let it go to waste! I mean it.
Getting a massage releases happy hormones and relaxes your muscles. It can make your mind and body relax even better than smoking a joint of weed.
It is extremely important to get a quality uninterrupted sleep at night. Good sleep is equal in importance to exercising or taking proper food. It is a proper investment if you can invest in things that can help you achieve a proper sleep at night.
Thus if any situation in your life is preventing you from getting adequate sleep then generally it is a good idea to get rid of that situation. This will bring you happiness and prosperity in the long term.