Tired but unable to sleep? Stop making these mistakes before hitting the bed!

Updated on: 19 February 2022, 21:22 pm IST

Calling it bedtime is easy but do you toss and turn for half a night without catching any sleep? Well, here’s the reason why!

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Constantly tossing and turning in bed is no fun! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Adults require seven or more hours of sleep each night to stimulate optimal health. But do we get any? Inadequate sleep (less than 7 hours per night) can lead to weight gain, leading to obesity in some cases. It can also worsen diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke. Lack of sleep is also associated with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. And the incidence of sleep disorders is alarming, to say the least.

Not to forget, sleep deprivation is also associated with increased pain and errors, impaired immune function, and performance. In fact, every year an alarming number of road accidents and deaths occur due to the lack of attentiveness. Sleeping more than 9 hours each night may be required for individuals with illnesses, young adults, and people recovering from sleep debt.

To add to the surprise, it’s evident how underestimated sleep is! Especially in the contemporary world that takes pride in being a part of the hustle culture. However, even when people are sleeping a good number of hours, they still feel tired. Why is that? Let’s understand a few of the causes that result in poor sleep quality.

Factors leading to sleep disorders

1. Caffeine consumption

Caffeine is responsible for prolonging sleep latency, reducing total sleep duration and sleep efficiency, and worsening the quality of sleep.

2. Alcohol consumption

Even a small dose of alcohol can alter GABA and glutamate levels in the suprachiasmatic nuclei, which is the location of the central circadian pacemaker.

3. Light-emitting devices

Blue light emitted by devices (White Lights, CFL’s bulbs, Tube lights, Electronic Gadgets) functions similar to natural light by inhibiting melatonin secretion, thereby causing trouble sleeping. Long-term exposure to low-intensity blue light directly before bedtime may have serious implications. It may affect the circadian phase, sleep quality, and cycle durations.

4. Electro Magnetic Fields (EMFs)

Electromagnetic fields (EMF) from Mobile phone use can cause fatigue, concentration difficulties, headaches, and sleep disturbances.

Steps to better your sleep hygiene:

1. Nutritional effects on sleep: High-protein diets are associated with significantly fewer wake episodes. On the contrary, high-carbohydrate diets are associated with significantly shorter sleep latencies. Tryptophan causes an immediate reduction in sleep latency and induction of sleepiness.

2. Dark pre-sleep environment: Complete darkness is optimal for a good night’s sleep. One must avoid blue light during the sleep opportunity. If reading before bedtime, choose a printed book over a light-emitting electronic book (e-Book).

3. Warm pre-sleep thermal environment: Warm environment before sleep is associated with ease in falling asleep. it also causes increased sleep satisfaction, ease in awakening, lower sleep onset latency, and increased duration of deep sleep. At the same time, a cool environment is associated with reduced sleep quality.

4. Listen to relaxing music, Sleep meditations, or Sleep podcasts: Listening to relaxing music before sleeping can improve sleep parameters in some individuals. Deep breathing and body scan meditation combined with music has yielded a positive effect on improving sleep quality and quality of life.

5. Exercise: Any kind of exercise is beneficial. Resistance training is usually recommended, as it may help improve sleep through the following mechanism:
1. Alters energy expenditure.
2. Improves symptoms of anxiety or depression.
3. Gives relief from musculoskeletal pain.
4. Increases body temperature.

6. Cut down on the Electromagnetic field before bedtime: Decreasing the number of messages and duration of calls, keeping the phone away from the head and body, using earphones, and similar precautions might decrease the frequencies and in turn decrease the prevalence of sleep disturbances.

To sum up

An unrested person is rarely productive and efficient. It is important to understand and respect your body by giving it the reset that it wants. With this, your body and mind can assist you effectively for longer periods.

Mugdha Pradhan Mugdha Pradhan

A functional nutritionist and a TedX speaker, Mugdha Pradhan is the founder of iThrive. Despite having a Master’s degree in Food Science and Nutrition, her own health took a nosedive in 2019. That's when she discovered Functional Medicine. Using modern principles of functional medicine along with ancient wisdom about food, she delved into the root cause of her health issues and recovered from a multitude of health problems.

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