We spend one-third of our lives sleeping, so it goes without saying that sleep is essential for maintaining our overall wellbeing. Poor sleep is associated with a number of adverse health conditions and you can see the immediate effects of sleep problems when you feel sleepy at work or school, you are tired most part of the day, and you find that your ability to perform tasks has decreased significantly. And there’s more; poor sleep is also associated with serious health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), obesity, depression, dementia, eating disorders and so on. According to the World Sleep Society, which was formed to advance sleep health worldwide, the three main elements for good quality sleep are: 
Duration: You should sleep long enough to be rested and alert the following day. That means, you need to sleep at least 85 percent of the total time you are in bed. Continuity: Your sleep periods should be should be continuous, without interruptions, that is, you wake up no more than once in the night, and that too, for no more than 20 minutes. Depth: Your sleep should be deep enough for you to wake up refreshed.
The National Sleep Foundation also adds, that good quality sleep requires you to fall asleep in 30 minutes or less after you go to bed. This period is known as sleep latency. So, you are sleeping well if you fall asleep within half an hour of going to bed. Older adults, apparently, have a slightly wider sleep latency, in the sense, they may require more time to fall asleep. However, if you are not asleep within 45 minutes of going to bed, it is better to get up, read a book or meditate till you do feel sleepy. Read more about
6 ways to use nutmeg for a good night’s sleep
Opinion is divided in the scientific circles regarding napping. Some think daytime napping can lead to medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, whereas others opine that napping can actually compensate for disturbed sleep at night. On the whole, daytime napping is okay, if your nap is not more than 30 minutes. Daytime napping duration over 60 minutes is significantly associated with mortality, say sleep specialists. Many scientists also link napping to depression and obstructive sleep apnoea, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease, all of which may increase risk of mortality. 
What can you do to sleep better? Exercise is very helpful in getting a better sleep at night. For example, in a study, the participants were made to exercise 4 times a week for 12 weeks. The exercise included 4 sessions of 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise, followed by resistance exercise consisting of 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions for 8 different exercises, for 2 days per week.  Researchers found that exercising helped manage obstructive sleep apnoea as well helped in weight loss. Not only has exercise been shown to be effective in improving OSA, but it also has been found to decrease the severity of central sleep apnoea in chronic heart failure patients.  However, do not exercise at least 4 hours prior to your bedtime. SudarshanKriya is a powerful breathing technique that helps you reduce stress and relax the nervous system, both of which are essential for quality sleep. And with good quality sleep comes greater productivity, more focus and energy.  Make sure the mattress you sleep on is firm, yet gentle. Investing in a memo foam mattress (foam mattress with memory) will be beneficial in the long run. In addition to being soft and comfortable, they can easily adapt to the pressure of the body as well as to the body heat. Read here Use rose petals to get a good night’s sleep! Stay away from your smartphone prior to bedtime. A recent study published in the journal PLoS ONE revealed that screen time is associated with poor sleep. Although the researchers agree that poor sleep may lead to increased screen time, they found that exposure to smartphone screens, particularly around bedtime, may negatively impact sleep.  Avoid having TV and other electronic gadgets in your bedroom. Make your bedroom a quiet, peaceful place with dim lighting. If you prefer reading before going to sleep, use a table lamp to read, so your bed partner is not disturbed. Avoid eating right before bedtime. If you crave food at night, have some light snack, such as, cherry juice or a banana, or a peanut butter sandwich. Certain foods like sugary foods and noodles reduce your sleep duration. On the other hand, foods such as cherry, lettuce, walnut, almond, and milk, which contain good amount of magnesium and calcium, help improve your sleep.  Do not use caffeinated foods, alcohol, or nicotine around your bedtime. They negatively affect your quality of sleep. This has been demonstrated by various studies. One study reported that many college students use these substances for recreational purposes while others use it to regulate their sleep-wake cycle and they eventually develop poor sleep quality and insufficient sleep, and this leads to poor academic performance.  Another study found that consuming more than 500 mg of caffeine per day can cause insomnia, gastrointestinal complaints and headache.  Read more about 6 reasons sleeping on your left side is healthy Sleep when you are sleepy. Listen to relaxing music or read something soothing before retiring for the night.
” – William Blake Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night. Reference World Sleep Society. Talking Points. worldsleepday.org. 2017. Web. Liu X, Zhang Q, Shang X. Meta-Analysis of Self-Reported Daytime Napping and Risk of Cardiovascular or All-Cause Mortality. Medical Science Monitor : International Medical Journal of Experimental and Clinical Research. 2015;21:1269-1275. doi:10.12659/MSM.893186. Kline CE, Crowley EP, Ewing GB, et al. The Effect of Exercise Training on Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Sleep Quality: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Sleep. 2011;34(12):1631-1640. doi:10.5665/sleep.1422. Iftikhar IH, Kline CE, Youngstedt SD. Effects of Exercise Training on Sleep Apnea: A Meta-analysis. Lung. 2014;192(1):175-184. doi:10.1007/s00408-013-9511-3. The Art Of Living India. Insomnia Cure. Artofliving.org. Web. Christensen MA, Bettencourt L, Kaye L, Moturu ST, Nguyen KT, Olgin JE, et al. (2016) Direct Measurements of Smartphone Screen-Time: Relationships with Demographics and Sleep. PLoS ONE. 11(11): e0165331. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0165331. Zeng Y, Yang J, Du J, et al. Strategies of Functional Foods Promote Sleep in Human Being. Current Signal Transduction Therapy. 2014;9(3):148-155. doi:10.2174/1574362410666150205165504. Lohsoonthorn V, Khidir H, Casillas G, Lertmaharit S, Tadesse MG, Pensuksan WC, Rattananupong T, Gelaye B, Williams MA. Sleep quality and sleep patterns in relation to consumption of energy drinks, caffeinated beverages, and other stimulants among Thai college students. Sleep Breath. 2012 doi:10.1007/s11325-012-0792-1. Wierzejska R. Caffeine-common ingredient in a diet and its influence on human health. RoczPanstwZaklHig. 2012;63(2):141–7.
Image source: Shutterstock
Published: March 14, 2017 11:08 am