We cannot stress the importance of adequate rest that can only be achieved by good quality sleep. And in an age when impending deadlines, an overwhelming addiction to busyness, and constant bombardment of information drains us of our energy and positivity, good sleep becomes even more essential to our emotional balance, ability to function productively and maintain our sanity.
While avoiding late night exertion like strenuous physical exercise, eating large meals or drinking alcohol, and refraining from using blue light devices post sunset are all smart ways to ensure you sleep better, we suggest some unusual, but just as effective strategies to do the same.
Here are some fun and interesting ways to help you fall asleep faster:
- There are some innovative, cool products and services in the market to help you fall asleep faster and for longer. One of them is a software designed for people who spend a lot of time in front of their computer, which, let’s face it, is most of us today. Called Flux, it adjusts your computer screen to brighten or dim it according to the time of day and where you live, which means its color is warm like indoor lights at night and like sunlight during the day. Another one is the Philips goLITE BLU, a blue light dispensing clock that is especially targeted at helping to alleviate the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder but works just as well to help your body adjust its internal clock. This connects with the simple principle that light therapy is based on.
- The body produces a hormone called melatonin, which helps anticipate the onset of darkness and regulates sleep cycles. Blue light tends to inhibit its production and interferes with our ability to fall asleep. Taking supplements of this hormone is recommended for insomniacs but only if treated as a last resort and in really low doses, ideally around 0.3 mg as anything higher will knock you out initially but stop working after a few days of continued usage.
- Fasting and then feasting can trick your body into adjusting to a new sleep schedule, which can be real handy when you travel. According to research conducted by Harvard Medical School, lead researcher Patrick M Fuller of the Beth Deaconess Medical Center in Boston claims that we can shift our sleep rhythms by fasting for 16 hours and making the first meal when we wake up, our largest. This apparently tricks out brain into thinking it has to wake up at this time every day to find nourishment, and overrides the regular sleep or insomnia cycle we have become accustomed to. As a bonus, this system also reduces jet lag.
- Tracking is not something that should be left only to detectives and spies. Keeping a record of your sleep habits and duration either in a journal or with some handy apps on your smartphone can help you notice patterns that are affecting your sleep quality. You might observe how stretching, and self-massage lead to deeper slumber, while afternoon naps or animated discussions about jarring news stories negatively impact your ability to rest.
- Have an activity that you relate only with bedtime. For instance, listening to your favorite podcast or reading a novel, or making yourself a cup of herbal tea: things you don’t get time for through the day. Revisiting these every night will tell your brain it’s time to retire for the day.
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