Back in our younger days, we could sleep soundly for long hours. Sleeping until noon was no problem when we were in our teenage years. As we grew older, the number of hours we stayed in bed decline. This is not only because we have more things to do, but also due to changes in our sleep patterns.
According to sleep experts, an adult aged 18 to 64 should be getting seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night. Older adults aged 65 and above are advised to get seven to eight hours of sleep at night. However, even the healthiest of us could be suffering from sleep disorders due to several factors. The National Sleep Foundation states that older people spend more time in the lighter stages of sleep than in deep sleep. Studies also reveal that seniors experience an increase in sleep fragmentation. We also have to consider medications that disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle.
Considering the internal and external factors that affect our sleeping habits, what can we do to ensure that we’re not exposing ourselves to health risks? Sleep deprivation can lead to serious conditions including heart diseases, obesity, emotional imbalance, and delirium. Explore 7 ways on how to revolutionize sleep.
Change your mindset
To “revolutionize” something means to introduce great changes. It’s a radical shift from the conventional. We shall start with our mindset. How do we perceive sleep? Is it a disruption to our daily activities? Do we sleep only because our bodies force us? Harvard Medical School regards sleep as one of the three pillars of health, together with nutrition and exercise. However, sleep is often neglected, “at a terrible cost on both the individual and societal levels.” It’s time to view sleep management as a significant part of our lifestyle—prioritizing it over our careers and material aspirations.
Transform your bedroom
If you need practical tips and tricks to help you sleep better, you can start by assessing your sleeping environment. Does your bedroom also serve as a work area and entertainment space? Does it bring you comfort, or is it too cluttered for relaxation? The living room couch, as comfortable as it appears, is not a place to rest your mind and body after a long day. In transforming your bedroom, ask yourself an important question: What makes me relaxed? A cluttered space triggers random thoughts that can keep you up all night. Make sure the bedroom temperature is cool (not cold) and streetlights are sufficiently blocked. If you can transfer your TV set to the living room or dining area, the better. Turn your bedroom into a total resting haven.
Attaining better sleep requires a holistic approach. If you’re having a hard time falling and staying asleep, you need to assess your lifestyle. Are you eating a balanced diet or are you consuming too much carbohydrates? How much coffee do you consume each day? A heavy dinner can give you acid reflux and keep you up until late in the evening. Nutritional therapist Kerry Torrens suggests wholegrain cereals with milk and sliced banana for breakfast, and foods rich in amino acids suck as chicken, dairy products, nuts and seeds. Before bedtime, drink a glass of warm milk or chamomile tea.
Helping the body prep for bedtime
Have you noticed that you have trouble falling asleep after a grueling day in the office? Instead of hitting the bar for vodka, go straight home. Doing vigorous exercise a couple of hours before bedtime is also a bad idea. You need to relax your body and not stimulate it more. You can have a warm bath or do relaxation exercises such as yoga before bedtime. You can also rub three drops of lavender oil on your palms, temples, and wrists for an immediate calming effect.
Discovering new sleep technologies
Revolutionize sleep with the aid of the latest in mattress technology. Today, we have a wide range of sleeping tools, from engineered foam mattress and memory foam to white noise machines. Discover bed foams that support your natural body alignment, preventing muscle pain throughout the night. There are also mattresses that promote blood circulation and protect against bacteria and mildew. You can also explore comfortable anti-bacterial pillows and bedsheets that will help you get quality zzz’s at night.
Regulating gadget use
People of all ages are crazy about electronic gadgets. Your sleep management techniques should include better regulation of your gadget use. Why? The exposure to artificial light such as the blue light in smartphones and computers are tricking the brain into thinking that it’s daytime, keeping you awake and alert even at past midnight. It’s advisable to set rules on the hours you’re going to stay plugged in. For a more drastic move, make your bedroom a no-Wi-Fi / no-electronic gadget zone. Shut out the world at night, literally.
When was the last time you’ve meditated? Do you know that even five minutes of relaxation activities each day can do wonders to your well-being? At least 10 minutes before bedtime, sit up straight on your bed and take slow deep breaths from your abdomen. You can keep your eyes shut or focus on a specific object such as the wall or the lamp. Another technique is to close your eyes and start murmuring sounds such as “la, la, la” or any nonsense word. This will help you clear your mind and prepare you for bed.
Sleep is a basic human need. Unfortunately, we have become too proud to acknowledge the fact that we need sufficient rest at night. We are very much absorbed with our daytime activities that we neglect our biological needs. Some people would wittingly cut down their sleep hours to three or four hours to finish tasks without realizing how it is jeopardizing their overall health. We need to start minding our sleeping habits. Change your mindset and your lifestyle. It’s time to revolutionize sleep.