27 Mar Healthy Habits to Ensure a Good Night’s Sleep
Stress is one of those things that how much ever you try to avoid it, you cannot be a 100% stress-free. Stress affects sleep. So it’s very important to meditate to sleep better.
When we inculcate healthy habits, we go to a place(or a state) where stress is inaccessible. Let’s learn how to do this:
Habit 1: Do not sleep with the light on.
Light is very harmful to our eyes at night. This is because it affects our melatonin hormone. This is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in our brain. This hormone helps to regulate and maintain the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is an internal 24-hour “clock” that plays a critical role in when we fall asleep and when we wake up.
One of the key components that make us sleepy is melatonin and your brain secretes it the most in darkness. Light, on the other hand, makes it difficult for our brain to produce melatonin. That explains why we feel less sleepy in a bright room. Also, limit the unauthorized entry of garden light or streetlight by closing the windows and drawing curtains. However, don’t forget to keep a lamp on your side table so that you can switch it on when you need to wake up for drinking water or using the bathroom during night.
Habit 2: Disconnect yourself.
A lot of us have the habit of using WhatsApp, Internet, Games, Facebook, Instagram etc on our mobile phones when we hit the bed, just before sleeping.
I have been a huge victim to this habit! Every night I used to feel like I need to do this to catch up to my “me-time” or feel “refreshed” after an entire day of hectic schedules! In reality, it was far from refreshing.
The blue light emanating from phones, not only discourages the brain from producing melatonin, altering content and active interactions with our phones, also prevents us from falling asleep faster as the mind is still active.
In order to get rid of this habit, I find that it is best to leave my phone in a drawer of the side table before I went to sleep. Out of sight out of mind!
Habit 3: Music
Listening to low volume melodious music can also play a great role in increasing, enhancing and enriching our sleep during the night. Listening to music also allows us to engage our attention in a positive way and thus shields us from unnecessary stress that can occur when we lie down on the bed. Apart from that choosing the right music also lowers our heart rate.
Habit 4: Walking can do wonders
One of the major reason for a sleep disorder can be poor digestion. Many people don’t feel hungry throughout the day but love a hearty meal at night. It may upset their stomach and most part of their night is spent on going to look for medicine or trying to belch out the disturbing gas.
If you belong to this category then taking a light walk during the night can help you to regulate your digestion and offer you sound undisturbed sleep. Even if you are blessed with perfect digestion, walking can still be helpful. Walking for 20-30 minutes in the street or even in your own lawn/compound helps the body in releasing endorphins- the neurotransmitters that result in relaxation and gives you a feeling of well-being.
Habit 5: Good Reading brings good sleep
Have you ever remembered your childhood days and the way your grandmother or mother would put you to sleep? You might not expect to hear bedtime stories anymore but bedtime reading can still help you to sleep deeply. When you open a book you step into another world. You acquaint yourself with a number of different characters and can be a part of their life journey. It is exciting to explore the incidences of their life and share their feelings. In a study, it was found that reading reduces stress by 68% and soothes the mind. And you don’t have to read for too long to see its good effects. Within 10 minutes of reading, you can start experiencing its positive effects on the heart and te mind. Reading is also found to slow down the heart rate which allows us to sleep better.
Habit 6: Meditation is good for you
To sleep soundly, you need to have a mind free of stressful or disturbing thoughts. Ironically, it is during the times we lie down, that our mind struggles with being still. This is because during the entire day our mind is engaged with a number of activities while at the night it doesn’t have to do anything. However, due to sheer habit it starts exploring some or other thoughts and in the process, a number of negative thoughts, apprehensions, tensions and fears fly in with force. Meditation is the best way to keep your mind free of disturbing thoughts and inducing a deep-seated peace that would help you to enjoy a long, sound sleep. It is not necessary to sit in a difficult, straight posture to meditate. You can even meditate while lying down on your bed. All you have to do is to close your eyes and focus on your breath. You may also choose to visualize. Focus your mind on natural and beautiful images like that of a flower, serene water or free birds. If you find it difficult to paint a mental picture then you can also take the help of external objects like a soothing piece of art or sculpture.
Nehita is a mindfulness expert who writes extensively on lifestyle management, wellness and ways to lead a healthier and a happier life. She is a part of Aware’s expert team on meditation. She is also an avid artist who spends most her time dribbling amazing stories through art.