Sleeping well is one of the keys to good mental and physical health. There is nothing worse than spending the night awake and suffering the consequences the next day. It is because lack of sleep damages our well-being and affects our body performance. When we talk about sleeping well, we not only refer to just resting for enough hours but also having a restful and quality sleep where your body can perform all the necessary biological processes. These processes are critical for our overall health. Without them, our bodies can’t function correctly.
That is why it is necessary to carry out good practices that allow you to sleep better. Here is a compilation of some tips and tricks that will help you sleep better.
1. Method 4-7-8 to Sleep better
Many times you have heard some sleeping techniques such as counting sheep. But, it seems that they are not very effective. Today there is talk of a very powerful technique called the “4-7-8 method,” which was popularized by Dr. Andrew Weil. This technique helps people fall asleep in 60 seconds, as it calms and relaxes the nervous system, which reduces stress and tension in the body.
How to apply the 4-7-8 technique
First, although the exercise can be done in any position, Weil recommends doing it sitting up, with your back straight and supported by a backrest. Although this position makes it impossible for us to fall asleep, we can try the method of sitting down and apply it later when we are in bed.
Once in position, we must place the tip of the tongue behind the front teeth, where the palate begins. Although it is not essential since the most important part of the exercise is breathing and its timing. It is intended that the exhaled air moves through the entire mouth and is expelled by it.
These are the three most important steps of the exercise:
- Close your mouth and inhale the air through your nose. Count to four.
- Hold your breath for seven seconds.
- Breathe the air out of your lungs for eight seconds. It is important to make a loud sound, so this is a noisy exercise.
The exercise should be carried out as the doctor has designed it, although there are small details that may vary. The most important thing is that the relationship between the inspiration and expiration time (twice) remains the same. For example, a 3-3-6 ratio may also be suitable. The normal thing is that at first you feel dazed and it costs us more to hold our breath and with time we can hold it for longer.
2. Yoga practice for better sleep
This 4-7-8 method has its origin in yoga, in breathing (Pranayama). Among the many advantages of practicing this ancient method, one is it helps in sleeping better. This occurs since yoga helps release serotonin. It is a neurotransmitter that is related to happiness and is also a precursor to melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep cycles. According to research, yoga allows you to control stress and body temperature, which promotes sleep.
3. Follow a routine
Our daily habits influence our body clock and, thus, our sleep. A good alternative to correct this is to have a sleeping ritual. For example, taking a hot bath every day at the same time before bed, practicing relaxation techniques. Also, drinking a relaxing cup of hot warm milk before going to bed can equally be a good routine.
4. Practice physical exercise
Well, having a sedentary life affects when it comes to falling asleep. So it’s always beneficial to get an active lifestyle. Having an active life and practicing physical exercise has the positive effect on our sleep cycle. Sports practice helps to release neurotransmitters such as endorphins. Endorphins are associated with pleasure. Also, release of serotonin favors the synthesis of melatonin, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
5. Don’t go overboard with your nap
The nap, if it is not very long, can help you to perform more at your work and allows you to be more focused during the afternoon. But abusing this very Spanish tradition can make you sleepless at night. For the nap to be beneficial, it should be short, about 20 to 30 minutes. Also, if you have sleep problems, better avoid naps because they can make you feel restless at night.
6. If you can’t fall asleep, get up
There is nothing worse than being in bed trying to sleep and watching the hours go by. So if you can’t sleep, you’d better get up and do something. Read for half an hour, do a short meditation, or have a glass of warm milk. Staying in bed will only increase your anxiety. Of course, if you get up, avoid overhead lighting.
7. Go to bed and get up early
Having a routine is, without a doubt, has a positive effect. Going to bed and getting up early is necessary if we do not want to have sleeping problems. This helps the body to orient itself and promotes the natural sleep-wake cycle. It improves the quality of life and avoids staying awake late at night.
8. Avoid alcohol and coffee in the evening and late nights
Some people do think that consuming alcohol helps in a good sleep but it does not. It can promote fast sleep due to its neuro-depressant effect. But, it disrupts later phases of sleep and can cause you to wake up throughout the night. This can prevent you from getting the necessary sleep and can affect the quality of sleep.
Drinking coffee is also very common in our society that affects our sleep cycle. It contains caffeine that stimulates the brain and affects sleep. Having a coffee in the morning can even be good to perform better in day-to-day tasks. But after mid-afternoon or evening, it can affect the quality of sleep.
9. Take care of your environment
The environment does influence our behavior and our sleep cycle. Environmental conditions are key because they may or may not promote sleep. Carrying out strategies such as low light, reducing blue night exposure, low noise, reducing use of gadgets and a comfortable temperature can help you sleep better. It is recommended to have the television turned off and sleep with a comfortable pillow.
Almost everyone experience a sleepless night some time or the other. But, if you often have trouble sleeping, contact your doctor. Sleep is an important function of the body, just like breathing, digestion or immunity. It is important for the state of well-being during the day. Identifying and treating the root cause can help you get the rest you deserve.
FAQs related to sleep:
Q1: How much sleep do I need?
The answer varies by age group, and from person to person. For most adults, 7 to 8 hours a night seems to be the best amount of sleep. But, babies generally need about 16 hours of sleep per day, while teens need about 9.
Q2: What happens if I don’t get enough sleep?
The cumulative effects of sleep deprivation are broad but serious. Experts believe that sleep is necessary for our nervous system to function. Sleeping too little leaves us drowsy and unable to concentrate. The consequences can range from decreased job performance to fatigue.
Certain sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, have been linked to several medical conditions. It includes depression, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats. Also, there’s an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Q3: What are some of the warning signs of lack of sleep?
In general, if you feel sleepy during the day, you have not had enough sleep. The same is true if you fall asleep within five minutes of going to bed. Micro sleeps, or very short periods of sleep in an otherwise awake person, are also warning signs of lack of sleep.
Q4: Do older adults experience more trouble sleeping?
The elderly do not experience more sleep problems, but they do experience different ones. Sleep studies show that men and women over the age of 65 experience frequent problems with deep sleep, also known as REM. Thus, they tend to sleep lighter and for shorter periods. Also, insomnia tends to be more prevalent in older adults.
Q5: Which is healthier: being a night owl? Or morning person?
No guy is better than the other. The morning type (lark) is fittest in the early morning and gets tired early in the evening. The evening type (owl) has a hard time getting going in the morning but turns up in the evening. Each type should find a rhythm that suits their needs.
Q6: Is it best to sleep before midnight?
Midnight is irrelevant to sleep. The “biological waking hour”, which is between 3 and 4 a.m., is more important: there we are at an absolute low in performance. This means that sleep is particularly important at that time. Over the past so many centuries our bodies has got used to a certain sleep cycle and trying to disturb the same can have bad effects on our body. So it’s better to respect that sleep cycle.
Q7: Does it hurt if you eat something before going to bed?
It doesn’t have to be detrimental to sleep if you eat some food before you lie down. But, you should pay attention to what you eat. Heavy meals should be avoided, especially if you are prone to heartburn. You should avoid high-carbohydrate and fatty foods in the evening. However eating just before going to bed can make you gain weight.
Q8: Is it dangerous to take sleeping pills?
Opinions vary but they do affect the sleep cycle. In principle, sleeping pills for a very short period to combat some medical condition are not dangerous, although there are of course many different preparations. With medical attention, sleeping pills can help combat a sleep disorder. But, long-term use of such drugs should not take place. However the same must be as per your doctor advice and consultation.