Tips for Healthy Sleep

Healthy Sleep

In today’s world of competition, to keep going it is important to have peaceful sleep for as long as it is required. The minimum duration required for peaceful sleeping depends on health status, age and lifestyle. Generally, for an adult 7-8 hours, calm sleep is considered to be normal whereas as school going children 10-11 hours. The minimum duration of sleep required can not only vary with age but also from individual to individual in a given age group. The outcome of inadequate or restless sleeping can be several health problems including poor memory, anxiety, heart problem diabetic mellitus with decreased ability to fight with microorganisms causing disease etc. Disturbed night sleep can alter the eating habits that can result in increase in weight.

To begin with, diet plays key role in effecting the quality and duration of sleep. Malnourished people have disturbed pattern of sleep. They are mainly those whose diet contains an inadequate amount of protein and carbohydrate with low sodium diet. The amino acid (tryptophan), a type of building block of protein facilitates the release of sleep inducing hormone melatonin. Chicken, turkey, milk, dairy, nuts and seeds e.g. sesame, sunflower, chia, pumpkin seeds are good source of trytophan.

The type of last meal intake at night and the interval duration between the time of intake and going to bed for sleeping plays critical role on duration and quality of sleep. Extra spicy and hot meal can cause delayed and disturbed sleep. Fat rich meal takes long to digest hence need a span of 4-5 hours interval before the bed time. Meal taken in excessive quantity can cause indigestion. The last meal preferably nutritional rich (carbohydrate, protein and fat but too in excess) but easy to digest is recommended for peaceful and prolonged sleep. Avoid taking sugar and prefer whole grain food over processed carbohydrate food. Intake of Sugar and refined carbohydrate excite brain activity and it takes longer to attain the phase of initiation of sleep process. Avoid taking fizzy drinks and canned juices with the last meal. Rather include raw vegetables and fruits in the last meal Chicken, turkey, milk  dairy, nuts and seeds This helps boost the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin

We all sleep less when we are excited to have something good to happen, or experience shock for something bad happening……can not forget examination or result days etc.

Intake of certain medicines or during pregnancy the sleeping pattern can alter which becomes normal on termination.

The sleep and wake up schedule during 24 hrs is known as biological clock or circadian rhythm and is regulated in the brain as a response to how long an individual has been awake and in change in dark and light. In response to darkness, a hormone melatonin is produced in brain that makes an individual sleepy whereas light inhibits its secretion.

Jet lack can disturb the sleeping cycle whereas this problem is resolved with the passage of time. The problem becomes complicated with the people who work in shifts. The problem can be minimized by avoiding frequent change in rotating shift duties. Its helpful to stay exposed with bright light when an individual is at work during night, wear dark glass while coming back at home while keeping commute time minimum as more exposure to bright light makes it more difficult for an individual to fall in sleep.

Making room dark and keeping away noise and light general beneficial to all suffering from insomnia. Avoid watching TV, using computer and smart phone a few hours before an individual plan to sleep as the use of these gadget enhances the activity in the brain that makes it difficult to fall asleep.Soothing activities such as reading books, knitting and listening to soft music while keeping the light low can facilitate smooth sleep. Napping during the day, especially after 3.00 pm can make it more difficult to have sound sleep during the night.

Regular exercise not only helps to improve the general health but also improves the quality of sleep.

However, the exercise done a few hours before going bed can awake the individual for longer because of increased circulation of blood causing enhanced activity in the brain with an increase in body temperature.

There are relaxation techniques that can be done during bed time and are of huge benefits.

Abdominal Breathing 

Close the eyes and have a deep but slow breath through the nose, involving chest belly lower back and ribcage and breath out through the mouth. Repeat the process and make each breath deeper than last.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Lie down and be comfortable. Start with the feet, tense the muscles as tightly as possible, hold for a count of 10 and then relax. Repeat the process with every muscle group in the body from feet to top of the head.

It takes regular practice to master relaxation techniques but the benefits can be huge. You can do them as part of your bedtime routine, when you are lying down preparing for sleep, and if you wake up in the middle of the night.

Cool temperature helps to facilitate the sleeping process. In absence of air conditioning facility, it can be a good idea to have a shower little before going to the bed.

In addition to different factors, diet can affect the sleeping pattern. Drinking lot of fluid a little before to going to bed, can disturb the sleep for the need to go to the toilet several times. Avoid hot and extra hot and spicy food in the meal. Take brown sugar or honey instead of sugar and avoid artificial sweeteners

  • Swap sugary cereal for a wholegrain alternative topped with milk and a sliced banana.
  • Choose protein foods that are rich in an amino acid called tryptophan. This helps boost the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Chicken and turkey, milk and dairy, nuts and seeds are all good choices.
  • Combine these with rice, pasta or potatoes to help the body get the most benefits from tryptophan. Try a chicken and noodle stir-fry or similar. Drink warm milk with a cracker or oatcake before bed.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake gradually. Try decaffeinated coffee or caffeine-free drinks like red bush tea

Take banana with milk around half an hour before going to bed. Other helpful sleep supporting drink is 7 tablespoons fermented yogurt mixed with one teaspoon honey blended after having 200 ml water added along with a pinch of table salt having it drank around an hour before going to bed.

Reading a boring book is also helpful to fall asleep.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Lahore Times.

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