Sleep is one of the most undervalued aspect of health. I have mentioned this umpteen times in my videos, posts (including my previous article on sleep and its significance on health).
The questions that I have been asked often is how do we improve the quality of sleep? How to fall asleep fast, stay asleep and wake up fresh?
Following a peaceful bedtime routine or rituals for sleep hygiene will help you getting there.
- Have a happy and peaceful day.
Happy hormone – Serotonin is converted in to sleep hormone Melatonin at night. A happy , peaceful and active day is a pre-requisite for sound sleep.
- Have 20 min of Sun exposure in the morning or by noon
Bright light from the Sun in morning or early noon will set our circadian/body clock. This will help us fall asleep naturally post sunset.
- Eat right.
Remember the happy hormone Serotonin? 80% of that hormone is produced in our intestine. Hence eating right food at the right time will not only make us fit, but also help us sleep better.
- Workout at least 5 hours before bedtime.
The core temperature and energy of our body will be high for 5 hours post workout. If the bedtime is within that time, we will struggle to fall asleep. Workout in the morning or early evening to get the sleep benefits of exercise.
- Have a nourishing light dinner
Heavy party food, Friday night dinners etc are taxing for not only our intestines, but also our sleep. Post sunset, the body is ready to wind down and the metabolism slows down. Light nourishing dinner can be a combination of a grain with a lentil (rice and moong is the best) with some vegetables (not raw). Sambar rice, kanji payaru , roti dal sabji, khichdi, etc are some of the delicious, nourishing and light dinners.
- Use a home-made sleep aid if needed.
Have a glass of warm milk with a pinch of nutmeg powder, turmeric powder, sugar with some crushed cashews 60 min before bed.
This is not needed on a regular basis, but is highly recommended after a tiring day of travel, if you are jet lagged or if you had a long stressful day . This is the most delicious and safest sleep aid. Cashews (most nuts) contain an amino acid called tryptophan which is needed to convert serotonin to melatonin. Nutmeg is also a mild sedative.
- Stay away from gadgets 60-30 minutes before bed.
Some sleep experts also advocate staying away from gadgets 2 hours before bed. Artificial lights known as ‘blue light’ include light from lamps, devices like TV, Laptop, mobiles and other gadgets. The sleep hormone melatonin is produced only during darkness. Exposing ourselves to such gadgets and devices closer to bedtime will block the secretion of this hormone.
- Goto bed at the same time every day (including weekends)
Nature and our body does not know the difference between weekends and weekdays. It works the same every day. Practicing sleep hygiene from Sunday to Thursday and derailing it on Friday and Saturday with night out or a late-night movie will only confuse and upset the biological clock. On weekends, go to bed within 90 minutes of normal weekday bedtime.
- Make bedroom a gadget free zone
Bedroom is meant for two things – to unwind and sleep, and to make love.
Laptop, TV, mobile phones and the numerous other gadgets should not enter bedroom. If you need an alarm, use an alarm clock (like how humans lived 20 years ago i.e. before mobile phones invaded us). An even better idea is to not use an alarm and wake up to natural light.
If its winter where you live and day doesn’t break early, use a light alarm clock which will emit light to wake you up and not the irritating beep sound of the normal alarm clock.
- Practice positive affirmations before bed.
Note down the top 3 or 5 positive things that happened during the day. This will help us have a more positive outlook towards life and secrete more happy hormones. This will also improve hormonal balance, conditions like Hypothyroid, PCOS , PMS and our brain chemistry.
- Light up tea light candle in an essential oil diffuser with lavender+ rosemary essential oil
Lavender and rosemary oil are excellent for calming. Use that in a tea light essential oil diffuser or mix a few drop of these in an oil wick lamp .
- Deep breathe and massage feet when on bed
Massage the sole and toes of the feet with coconut oil( summer) or sesame oil(fall, winter). Even the thought of massaging the feet after a long day , feels so soothing. Mixing lavender or rosemary oil in the massage oil will help in relaxing . Deep breathe and you will not know when you fell asleep.Do you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep? Let us know in comments.