The quality of our waking days determines the quality of our sleep. If you wake up tired and have to push yourself out of bed, the problem probably lies in how well you slept the previous night.
Modern life, with its information noise, WhatsApp videos, and daily stress, have taken a toll on our sleeping patterns. Resorting to sleep medication without consultation has its negative implications. One of the best ways to tackle disturbed sleep is by employing natural remedies to get a good night's sleep.
Here are a few easy habits you could incorporate into your daily schedule to ensure that you get your fair share of natural sleep.
1. Eat sleep-promoting foods before bedtime
Foods that are rich in nutrients like certain complex carbs and lean proteins, and fruits that contain minerals like potassium and magnesium help promote sleep by calming the nervous system and relaxing the muscles.
Bananas, rich in both potassium and magnesium, also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps induce sleep. Melatonin, another hormone that promotes sleepiness, is found in cherries and is also available as soft gels. Reach for some cherries, apples, apricots when you are looking to have something light at night.
If you need something a little more satisfying, then there’s always whole grains like oatmeal, popcorn, or even jasmine rice that can help increase the levels of tryptophan.
2. Have a calming drink
No, not alcohol!
Warm milk, chamomile tea, or even tart cherry juice are ideal if you are having trouble falling asleep. Without side effects or drug interactions, these natural remedies can help improve your slumber.
Unlike green tea or Earl Grey, chamomile tea doesn't contain any caffeine. It has a calming effect on the body because an antioxidant called apigenin, which decreases anxiety and initiates sleep is found in abundance in chamomile tea. So, brew yourself a hot cup and get better sleep, the natural way.
3. Reduce mental stress
Listen to calming music - maybe some old goldies from Kishore Da or Lata Didi - record your worries in a journal, speak to a friend, or read a relaxing book to reduce the accumulated stress and anxiety of the day.
Try these techniques to let go of problems and troubling thoughts before sleeping.
4. Stick to comfortable temperatures
Our sleep quality is greatly affected by our body and bedroom temperature. It is thus essential to not only keep cool mentally but also physically. So, wear comfortable cotton or breathable fabrics to bed.
Also, a room that is too cool or too warm can disturb your sleep, forcing you to wake up many times. Ensure that your bedroom heater or air-conditioner is set at a comfortable temperature.
5. Avoid eating late in the evening
Having a light meal or a late-night snack a few hours before bed may help you sleep better. However, a large 'heavy-duty' meal before bedtime can lead to hormone disruption and poor-quality sleep. High-sugar, high-carbohydrate, heavily-processed foods, all interfere with our sleep quality at night.
It is essential to watch what you eat and when you eat it. Eat right - sleep right!
A regular exercise routine is known to have many positive health benefits. It reduces stress, gives you an energy boost, makes you more alert, and helps you sleep better naturally. No one type of exercise is a sure-shot remedy for good sleep, but any kind of movement is better than none. Aerobic or cardio, strength training or yoga - choose one that matches your lifestyle and physical abilities.
However, it’s important to remember that though exercise is known to reduce symptoms of insomnia, it is best not to exercise too late in the day. Exercising increases alertness and hormones like epinephrine and adrenaline in the body that may interfere with your body's natural sleeping cycle.
7. Reduce your exposure to light
Start switching off unnecessary lights as the evening progresses. It slowly prepares your body for sleep. Also, desist from watching television or using your smartphone, iPad, or other blue-light devices at least an hour before your bedtime. This will align your body's natural circadian rhythms to the sleep cycle and prepare your body for a good night's sleep.
8. Invest in the right mattress
What you sleep on can affect your sleep duration. It is important to evaluate your mattress every 5 to 7 years. Also, middle-age is when the wear and tear on your body starts to show up, reinforcing the importance of having a good quality, comfortable mattress.
Look at buying mattresses like a good investment towards your overall health and wellbeing. And since there isn't a one-kind-fits-all, choose a a mattress that suits older adults and helps the spine maintain its natural curvature and alignment.
To further alleviate sleep problems, you can make small behaviour modifications. Have a regular bedtime, which is in sync with your body's natural sleep-wake cycle, establish pre-sleeping rituals like listening to evergreen music, consider cervical pillows or senior-friendly bed rails, and avoid alcohol, smoking, & caffeine before bedtime.
Finally - it is important to take care of your physical self, but it's equally essential that you nurture your emotional health as well. The longevity and quality of your years have a direct relation to how well you sleep.
Now is the time to savour good health, happiness and reap the rewards of your long life with peaceful, uninterrupted sleep at night!
So sleep well at night and enjoy each day.
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