Sound sleep: one solution for many problems

A good night's rest can do wonders for your physical and emotional wellbeing

Man having a sound sleep

Sleep is nature's most wonderful tonic for both mind and body wellbeing and just getting enough good sleep can help heal many physical and mental symptoms. So how does one make sure to get enough sound sleep?

Easy does it

  • Develop a regular sleep-wake schedule. Whether or not you've had a good nights rest, if you're trying to establish a good sleep schedule you will have to get out of bed on time.
  • Conserve your bed as a sanctuary meant only for sleep and sex. Don't read or watch TV while relaxing on the bed
  • Try to make your bedroom as comfortable as possible. It should be airy, quiet and dark.
  • If your mind is lost in thought about something that disturbs your sleep, write it down on a notepad. Put it off till the morning
  • Don't try too hard to go to sleep. Wait for about half-an-hour, and if you don't feel sleepy, do something else instead. Go back to sleep only when you feel sleepy.
  • Avoid bright lights. They only tell your body one thing - that it is time to get up!
  •  If you cannot resist the bait of a "well-earned" nap, it should always be before 4.00 PM and not for more than 20 minutes.
  • Exercise is good for you but not when done too close to bed time. Avoid exercise two-three hours before your sleep time. Exercise increases the level of endorphins in your body which makes it difficult to calm down and go to bed.
  • If you suffer from snoring, do something to fix it. You could be losing precious sleep due to your problems of snoring or sleep apnoea.
  • You can minimise snoring by using a mandibular advancement device.
  • To correct sleep apnoea, it's best to visit a sleep specialist who will ascertain the cause of your apnoea and suggest treatment accordingly.

Tune yourself

Another great way to fall asleep is to give "signals" to your body that it is time to go to sleep. You can listen to calming music or take a relaxing shower before going to sleep. A warm glass of milk before bed-time is also soothing. It promotes sleep in many people. The reason is milk contains tryptophan - a natural sleep promoter.

What if you have a sleep disorder?

There are over 75 different types of sleep disorders. Most sleep affections, however, include mental, psychological, or physical conditions, which "block" our normal sleep patterns. Some of them are:

  • Dysomnias are conditions in which the sleeper finds it quite difficult to fall asleep, or stay asleep. Disorders under the condition include insomnia, narcolepsy [sleepiness during the day], sleep apnoea [sudden, momentary loss of breath during sleep], restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder.
  • Parasomnia includes REM [Rapid Eye Movement] sleep behaviour disorder, fear of sleep, sleepwalking or somnambulism, grinding of teeth, bed-wetting or enuresis, and so on.
  • Medical/psychiatric sleep disorders includes conditions that disturb normal sleep. Conditions that can lead to medical/psychiatric sleeplessness include psychoses or schizophrenia, mood complaints, anxiety, depression, panic attack, chronic alcoholism etc.,

Confusing, isn't it? It would be easier to therefore to highlight sleep disorders on the nature of the underlying problem. Here goes -

  • Insomnia, where you are not able to just fall asleep, when you want to, or at sleep times
  • Jet-lag, where your sleep patterns are out of sync with the time zone of your destination
  • Narcolepsy, where you suddenly fall asleep without warning, especially during day-time
  • Apprehension of sleep itself, or sleep terror disorder, where you are hastily aroused from sleep by fear
  • Unintentional grinding of teeth
  • Delayed sleep phase syndrome [DSPS], where your bio-clock, or circadian rhythm, is disturbed.

It is said that millions of people suffer from sleeplessness worldwide.  In general terms, however, doctors report that over half of elderly adults [age 65+] experience a sleep disorder - with relatively pronounced effects. Are you one among them, or are you an insomniac in the elderly age group?

No need to worry! All you need to do is speak to your family doctor and/or an expert in sleep medicine.

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