Lack of sleep is linked to several ailments, it suppresses your immune system, increases your risk for cancer, increases your blood sugar levels, causes depression and anxiety, causes heart disease, reduces your concentration and productivity during the day and makes you gain body weight.
Now that I have got your attention, let us learn the rules to get better sleep.
In general, we has humans require at least eight hours of sleep. But this varies from person to person. We follow the circadian rhythm. This is because our brain begins to secrete a hormone called melatonin after dusk. Melatonin concentration in our body peaks between 9 pm and 9 am.
We must, however, concentrate more in our quality than the quantity of sleep. Which means, we might have to plan to go to bed for longer as most of us spend at least half hour in bed before we go to sleep.
If you are feeling sluggish and tired in the afternoon it is a good indicator that you are getting inadequate sleep.
It’s okay however to have a short afternoon nap. Just ensure that it is not very long in duration as deep sleep in the afternoon may hamper your sleep at night.
The quality of deep sleep you get in the night is irreplaceable. You should be looking to nap for not more than 20 minutes in the afternoon.
SCREEN ON TIME
Most of us also watch a screen before bed. We may watch our phone or television just before bed. The blue light and brightness of the screen tends to mimic daylight and so it suppresses our melatonin secretion.
Most electronic gadgets today have a mechanism to turn down the blue light and the light warmer. However, this does not solve the brightness issue.
I’d suggest to replace your before bed routine with something like reading or playing a board game or just find a method to clear out all your thoughts in solitude.
Reduce your intake of caffeine. In fact, caffeine is actually a legal psychotropic drug. It is a strong stimulant. A lot of people, including me, love their coffee. Caffeine has a half-life of 3-5 hrs. That means, it usually takes about 7 to 10 hours to get totally eliminated from the body. So, plan your last cup of coffee for the day at least 10hrs before you go to bed. Other beverages which contain caffeine besides coffee include tea, energy drinks, carbonated drinks, and most pre workouts.
Get more physically tired. This is one way you will be guaranteed to get you sound sleep. It not only will keep you physically fit and help control your body weight. You will also sleep more soundly.
(Dr Fonseca is a clinician and proprietor of Dr Fonseca’s Pathology Laboratory and Clinics, Panaji. A health and fitness enthusiast, he has started “drrohanfonseca”, a lifestyle and weight management clinic. Find him on youtube.com/drrohanfonseca)