A few lifestyle changes and proven healthy practices have helped many overcome their sleep woes and lead a more wholesome life. Your’s can be next.
This article has been sponsored by Wakefit.co
There is nothing that can replace a good night’s sleep, say experts. From being instrumental in one’s daily productivity to strengthening the immune system, rest is an irreplaceable action that fuels our well-being at all times. And yet, it remains one of the most downplayed aspects of one’s health.
Prajakta Mali, a 25-year-old business development manager, based out of Bengaluru, was one of the many suffering from sleep-related disorders (SRDs).
After hectic days and tight deadlines, all she craved for was a fulfilling sleep at night, but in vain. Despite several efforts, she had failed to remedy the situation, owing to a seemingly negligible compromise of buying a low-cost cotton mattress instead of a comfortable one with orthopaedic benefits. As a result, she would wake up groggy and tired almost every day.
Susceptible to dust mites and more, cotton mattresses deteriorate over time and can be quite harmful. And in the case of Prajakta, this became a hindrance to a comfortable sleeping arrangement — something that experts believe is crucial for sleeping peacefully.
“My old mattress affected even the minimum amount of sleep that I managed to squeeze in, and I was never well-rested when I woke up. I kept tossing and turning all night, trying to find a comfortable position, and that never helped.”
It is only after countless nights tossing and turning or staring at the wall, or suffering exhaustion during the day, that she realised the need for an intervention. After extensive research, she found the solution to her problem and replaced the old mattress with Wakefit.co’s Orthopedic Memory Foam Mattress. There was no looking back for her after that decision.
“Ever since my Wakefit.co mattress arrived, I have been sleeping like a baby. I don’t toss and turn all night and I sleep for a good 7-8 hours every night and feel absolutely well rested when I wake up in the morning.” says Prajakta.
Prajakta is one of the 5 lakh people who have found their way back to a good night’s sleep, thanks to Wakefit.co, asleep and home solutions company based in Bengaluru.
For the last four years, Wakefit.co has been doing their bit to spread more awareness about the importance of sleep, and their study, called the Great Indian Sleep Scorecard (GISS), is one such initiative.
This study claims that almost 90% of Indians lack uninterrupted sleep, waking up once or twice a night and that one in five people surveyed said they had insomnia. Almost 30% felt tired in the morning and 42% suffered from back pain and other symptoms of fatigue and exhaustion.
In this scenario, having a good mattress and sleep environment is extremely important to bolster sleep health. However, a mattress alone may not be sufficient to facilitate overall sleep wellness.
In a bid to solve some of the sleep-related issues, we bring you eight scientifically credible suggestions from India’s prominent sleep specialists, that can genuinely help you get the rest you deserve.
For good health, a study states that an adult requires at least 7-9 hours of sleep every day. However, there is more to it than just a measure of time. According to experts, regular sleeping hours and a fixed schedule are what helps improve the quality of sleep.
It is because this discipline then coincides with the body’s natural regulatory system, the circadian rhythm which works like the internal body clock.
“Waking up to sleeping off at the same fixed time immensely impacts one’s quality of sleep. Once the body gets adjusted to this schedule, the internal body clock or the circadian rhythm is then automatically set to help you wake up or fall asleep at the set time,” says Dr Aditya Agarwal, a Mumbai-based sleep specialist.
“Sleeping environment plays a huge role in getting quality sleep. From the lighting, body temperature, to the bed or mattress, everything needs to be comfortable enough to encourage and enhance sleep. One cannot have a satisfying sleep in a dirty, lumpy or hard mattress. It is not only uncomfortable but also harms your lungs causing respiratory problems and even back pain,” says Delhi-based neurologist and sleep specialist Dr Manvir Bhatia.
Even a good quality pillow ensures that the user manages to get the right neck curve, temperature and comfort during sleep. That is why many advise the use of orthopaedic pillows over the usual feather or even the memory foam pillows.
Controlling body temperature is another aspect of ensuring a good night’s sleep. Studies suggest taking a relaxing hot bath or shower before sleep can help cool down your body afterwards and send a signal to the brain to prepare for sleep.
3. Less to no caffeine
According to Dr Bhatia, caffeine is one of the biggest enemies of sleep.
“Most people think that a shot of caffeine is what helps them battle drowsiness in the morning and get through the day. But, this is only partially true as a high content of caffeine often deters quality sleep and is very harmful to one’s health,” she says.
Dr Agarwal adds that caffeine acts as a stimulant accelerating brain activity that eventually deters sleep duration and quality. Ideally, one should not consume any caffeinated beverages for at least six hours before bedtime. A better option, in this case, is to supplement caffeine with herbal teas that can relax and lull one’s mind and body into a deep sleep.
4. Regular exercise
“Any physical activity or exercise indeed helps enhance one’s health, but when done properly. Exercise boosts the production of serotonin levels, decreasing cortisol which is considered a stress hormone, thus enhancing the duration and quality of sleep at night. It is essential to see to it that you exercise regularly but only in the morning or day,” says Dr Agarwal.
This is because exercise often warms up the body, accelerating it, which is only beneficial during the day and not at night when you want your body to release all the stress and relax.
5. Excess of nothing
Both the doctors stress the importance of a balanced diet for sleep quality. They add that a large meal just before going to bed can deter the sleep cycle and result in poor sleep.
A study further stated that desserts or foods with high sugar content and refined carbs like white rice, bread, etc. during the day could also result in wakefulness in the morning.
“It is vital to keep a close watch on your diet for a good sleep. Excess of nothing is good, not even the common practice of taking a nightcap before sleeping. Instead of helping, these interfere and negatively affect your hormones and eventually lead to disturbed sleep,” says Dr Agarwal.
According to this study, alcohol alters HGH (human growth hormone) and melatonin production in the night that is responsible for fueling the circadian rhythm.
6. No Smoking
Much like caffeine, doctors add that smoking nicotine often disrupts the sleep cycle by acting as a stimulant and masking your naturally-occurring exhaustion.
Not just an overall health risk, nicotine can also cause the onset of severe sleep conditions like sleep apnea.
“A lot of people tend to make it a practice to smoke before they go off to sleep. This sort of conditioning is harmful to both your body and the mind, as nicotine blocks the brain from naturally relaxing and falling off to sleep,” adds Dr Agarwal.
7. Put away devices
“One of the most common causes of wakefulness at night is the increased exposure to devices and longer screen-time. This is not only harmful to your eyes but also causes disruption in sleep,” says Dr Bhatia. From watching television, using a cell phone to playing video games, these activities before bedtime are some of the most common triggers of disrupted sleep.
Dr Agarwal adds that this is because of the emission of blue light, which is said to be responsible for suppressing melatonin.
“The blue light emitted from the screen of your electronic devices like cell phones or laptops tricks your brain into thinking that it’s still day time and keeps it in the active or engaged mode. Hence this reduces hormones like melatonin which relaxes you into sleep, and thus disrupts the circadian rhythm.
8. Create a sleep paradox
According to Dr Agarwal, one must not spend more than 20 minutes on bed attempting to sleep.
“If you are continuously lying down for almost 20 minutes without falling asleep, then the best thing to do is get up. Walk around, read something or write and come back to bed once you feel drowsy again. But make sure you do not end up scrolling through your social media or watch any television during this time, as the blue light would hinder the process,” he says.
Creating this paradox of trying to stay awake instead of spending hours on a bed, forcing oneself to sleep often helps people fall asleep faster.
The experts add that, a few lifestyle changes and the proven healthy practices mentioned above have helped many overcome their sleep woes and lead a more wholesome life. Your’s can be next.