It’s no secret that quality sleep is vital for both your mind and body. Sleep plays a key role in several body functions - it promotes metabolism, longevity, healthy skin and hair and mental well-being. Unfortunately, even if you love sleeping (and who doesn’t), you might find it hard to fall asleep when you want to (insomnia, anyone?). Now while we all wish we could meditate our way to sleep, it’s never that easy. So, if you’re currently struggling with sleep deprivation, we’ve got some proven hacks to help you fix it.
Your body has its internal 24-hour clock called the circadian rhythm, which regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Simply, this is a biological process that occurs every day and is affected by factors like hormones and light. During sleep, our body repairs its cells, conserves energy and regulates hormones and proteins. This is why prolonged sleep deprivation is linked to obesity, muscle loss, heart disease, diabetes and hormonal problems.
Is it eight hours for everyone?
Here are some general sleep hours guidelines based on your age, given by the National Sleep Foundation.
Recommended Sleep Hours
- Teenagers (14-17 Years) - 8 to 10 hours
- Young Adults (18-25 Years) - 7 to 9 hours
- Adults (26-64 Years) - 7 to 9 hours
- Older Adults (≥ 65 Years) - 7 to 8 hours
On average, sleeping for less than 6 hours can be considered sleep deprivation.
While it’s true that people have different sleeping patterns (night owls and morning people), a night shift always comes with health risks. It’s best to have a healthy and fixed sleep schedule. Here are some natural ways to get a proper night’s sleep.
- Create a nightly routine to trigger your brain into relaxing. This could include rituals like making a to-do list, skincare, yoga or any activity that you find calming.
- Take a break from all the gadgets and screens in your life at night. This will limit your exposure to blue light, which curbs melatonin (the sleep hormone). Similarly, increase your exposure to sunlight and bright light during the day.
- Instead of a Netflix binge, pick a light book before sleeping if you like to read.
- Caffeine is a stimulant and keeps you alert, so limit your intake closer to bedtime.
- Sleep only when you feel tired. If you cannot fall asleep within 20 minutes, jump out of your bed and engage in relaxing activities until you feel tired.
- Avoid long and random naps during the day.
- Take a warm shower before bed to maintain the required body temperature for a good sleep.
- Keep your room temperature between 15.5°- 23° C by adjusting the fan, air conditioning or heater.
- Eat your meals at least 2-3 hours before your bedtime.
- Make sure that your sleep mattress and pillow are comfortable.
- Avoid alcohol and nicotine consumption at night as they can disrupt melatonin secretion.
- Get regular exercise to reduce stress and keep your body clock in sync.
Along with these tips, you could also try melatonin supplements (1-5 mg), soothing herbal teas or aromatherapy oils. However, if you have a sleep disorder or chronic insomnia, you should consult a medical expert. In some cases, your doctor may recommend prescription medications along with lifestyle changes.
If you need a listening ear or medical advice, don’t hesitate to connect with our experts at Veera.
Reviewed by Dr. Shailly Prasad, MD/MBA, Resident Physician, Obstetrics & Gynaecology.
1] Mental health and sleep. (2020, September 18). Retrieved April 24, 2021, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mental-health
2] How much sleep do we really need? (2021, March 09). Retrieved April 24, 2021, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need