Sleep disorders and how to combat them

Sleep disorders and how to combat them

What’s keeping you up at night? Are you tired of tossing and turning in bed, trying in vain to grab some restful sleep? Well, you are not the only one. Join the growing ranks of people suffering from insomnia or the inability to get quality sleep. The bottom line - people are just not getting enough sleep these days.

The effects of sleep deprivation are all around us. We can see it in the growing instances of obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. Lack of sleep can also lead to anxiety and depression.

Studies have shown that adults who sleep less than seven hours at night are more likely to suffer from heart attacks, strokes and depression. The relationship between your health and sleep is not a light matter anymore.

Lifestyle, work (night shifts), or illness are some of the common factors that come between you and a quality night’s sleep. But the biggest culprit here is stress. And an even bigger problem is our inability to cope with it.

Despite the growing evidence linking sleep deprivation to our overall wellbeing, many still feel sleep is overrated. So what exactly happens to our body when we are asleep?

Well, sleep allows both your body and its millions of cells and tissues to repair and rejuvenate. But sleep deficiency can interfere with this vital process.

Your heartbeat and blood pressure (BP) are both reduced when you are asleep. But insufficient sleep can lead to a gradual spike in BP. It can also play havoc with your glucose levels and thus put you at a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. It also lowers your body’s immune system and increases your chance of contracting infections and diseases.

Sleep plays a key role in making us mentally alert and improves memory function. Growth in little children and adolescents is also impacted by sleep. Lastly, let’s not forget, how a good night’s sleep can automatically have you feeling good about yourself and your life.

So what can we do to ensure good quality sleep at night? Firstly, you need to make sleep a priority. It’s not just about going to sleep at a fixed time every night. You also need to incorporate a proper diet and exercise into your daily routine.

Balance is the key here. Balance between work, play and rest. However, it is harder for those working at night. They are already out of sync with the Circadian rhythm, having to sleep through the day.

But there are some simple habits that you can adopt to enhance the quality of your sleep. These should help you sleep longer and deeper.


1. Have a set sleep routine

Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even during weekends and holidays. This consistency will help to reinforce your sleep cycle.

2. Eat light

Avoid going to bed hungry or after a very heavy meal. Discomfort is likely to keep you up. It is best to opt for an early dinner.

3. Reduce fluid intake in the evening

Cut down on your fluid intake in the evening otherwise you will be rushing to the bathroom at night. Excessive urination can disrupt your sleep. Diabetics often face this problem.

4. Avoid caffeine

The stimulating effect of not just caffeine, but even nicotine can take quite a while to wear off and interfere with sleep.

5. Create a cosy environment

To help you sleep well at night, you can ensure that your room is cool, dark and quiet. The temperature must also be just right, not too cold or too hot. Avoid the use of light-emitting screens just before bedtime.

6. Invest in a comfortable mattress

Don’t just stop at a good mattress. Ensure that you have a good pillow as well. Poor quality or old bedding can hamper sleep and also cause joint and back pain. It’s a good idea to upgrade your bedding periodically.

7. Limit daytime naps

While short naps are fine, but indulging in long naps during the day can impact your sleep at night. But for those working at night, a long nap helps to make up the sleep deficit.

8. Exercise

Some form of exercise or regular physical activity will lead to better sleep. Yoga is a good option. But do avoid exercising just before bedtime.

9. Manage stress

Let’s face it. We are all stressed. But we need to learn how to manage it and ensure that it does not interfere with our sleep. It helps to have some kind of a bedtime routine, like reading, journaling, affirmations, some form of meditation or soothing music to relax and ease your mind.

10. Take a warm bath or shower before bed

Indulging in a warm bath or shower just before bed is known to help you sleep better at night. Even washing your feet before sleeping can have the same effect.

However, if falling asleep continues to be a problem, then get in touch with your doctor to help identify and treat the underlying cause.

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