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Quiet Mind and Sleep Hygiene: The Secret To Falling Asleep Fast

Written by Dr. Jatin Bhide on Fri, 11 November 2022

Key Highlights

  • In our day-to day lives, we suffer from variety of things which may cause stress.
  • It can affect your quality of sleep.
  • Consistent bedtime routine can help you get better sleep.
  • Staying away from electronics before bedtime is crucial.
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Insomnia is a frequent problem that causes difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep, or causes you to wake up too early and not be able to return to sleep. In addition, when you wake up, you remain exhausted.

Insomnia may not only deplete one's energy and emotions but also one's health, work performance, and quality of life. Most adults require seven to eight hours of sleep every night, but it varies from person to person.

Most adults will have short-term or acute insomnia at some point in their lives, which might continue for days or weeks. Some people, however, suffer from long-term or chronic insomnia that lasts for a month or longer. Insomnia could be the primary issue, or it could be linked to other medical conditions or medications as well.

Understanding chronic insomnia

Sleep is just as vital for health as a balanced diet and regular exercise. Insomnia, regardless of the cause, can have both emotional and physical consequences. People who suffer from insomnia have an unpleasant quality of life as compared to those who sleep well.

symptoms of insomnia

Some of the common complications of insomnia include:

  • Lower performance at work or at school
  • Slow reaction time while driving and a higher risk of accidents
  • Mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorder or substance abuse
  • Increased risk and severity of long-term diseases or conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease

Common causes of chronic insomnia

Stress: Work, school, health, finances, or family concerns might keep the mind crowded with thoughts at night, making it difficult for you to fall asleep. Insomnia can also be caused by stressful life events or trauma, such as the death or illness of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job etc.

Travel/ work schedule: Jet lag from traveling across multiple time zones, working a late shift or an early shift, or frequently changing work shifts can lead to insomnia.

Common causes of chronic insomnia 
 

Poor sleep habits include an irregular bedtime schedule, naps, stimulating activities before bed, an uncomfortable sleep environment, and using the bed for work, eating or watching TV.

Eating too much, and late in the evening: It's fine to have a light snack in the night, but eating too much might make you feel physically uncomfortable when trying to fall asleep.

Chronic insomnia can also be linked to medical conditions or the use of certain drugs. While treating the medical issue may aid in sleep improvement, insomnia may continue even after the medical condition has been addressed.

Simple changes in daily habits that can improve sleep

Good sleep habits can help prevent insomnia and promote sound sleep.

  • Keep your bedtime and wake time consistent from day to day.
  • Stay active.
  • Check the medications that you are taking, to see if they may contribute to insomnia.
  • Avoid or limit naps.
  • Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol intake, and don't use nicotine.
  • Avoid large meals and beverages before bedtime.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as taking a warm bath, reading or listening to soft music.

Good sleep hygiene

Racing minds and thought loops during the day and soon before bedtime affects our sleep and are some of the common problems, especially among people struggling with insomnia.

Thus, when you realize that your mind is racing or spiraling down, you should try to change your focus and adopt good sleep habits. Take at least 5 minutes to recharge and reset by making a to-do list, mediating, relaxing the body, etc. Also, good sleep hygiene, which is the combination of sleeping conditions and lifestyle habits, helps one get consistent uninterrupted sleep.

Let's take a look at the two aspects i.e., quiet mind and sleep hygiene in detail.

Quiet Mind

Here are some ways of keeping your busy mind quiet so as to sleep better:

1. Put off paying bills

Stressful subjects, like work or finances, can make your mind spiral. Take care of the bills and emails tomorrow.

2. Make a to-do list

Work projects to finish, calls to make, kids to manage. When you're trying to recall everything you need to do before you wake up, it's difficult to fall asleep. By writing it down on a piece of paper, one may release this mental burden. Take 5 minutes before going to bed to make a list of all the things you need to accomplish in the morning. You will be able to fall asleep faster once it's off your mind.

3. Let your muscles fully relax

You might find it simpler to let go of stressful thoughts if you release tension from your body. Allow your body to get limp by lying on a flat surface.

Take a deep breath and then deeply exhale. Then, squeeze and release one section of the body at a time. Begin from the toes. The heels can come next, followed by the knees, thighs, belly, and so forth. Let the forehead be the last. Take note of how relaxed your body feels and appreciate the feeling!

4. Slow your breath, slow your mind

Breathing is a ready-made tool to relax the body and slow down the thoughts that keep you awake.

Try this: Place a hand on the heart and feel its rhythm. Breathe in deep for 4 seconds, then breathe out slowly. Repeat this pattern until the heartbeat slows down. The thoughts should soon ease up as well.

Quiet Mind

5. Make your bedroom a no-screen zone

The phone, tablet, and other screens can mess with sleep. The light tells the brain to stay alert. The best way for better sleep is to keep computers, TVs, and phones out of the bedroom.

6. Meditate

A good night's sleep can be difficult for some people. Stress and anxiety can stand in the way of getting quality sleep. Meditation is recommended as it stabilizes your mood, reduces stress levels, improves heart health, etc. Meditation also helps clear your head, relaxes your mind and helps you calm down. You can also practice sleep-inducing, specific meditative practices, in the night, right before bedtime.

7. Channel your inner yogi

Many people claim that yoga helps them sleep better. Try the "child's pose" at bedtime. Kneel on the floor with the big toes together. Separate the knees the width of the hips, and sink the chest to the thighs. Let the forehead touch the ground. For hip and knee problems, try "corpse pose" instead. Lie on the back, legs apart and arms relaxed at the sides. Exhale and feel yourself sink into the ground. Stay in either pose for 3-5 minutes.

Sleep Hygiene

Healthy sleeping habits are referred to as sleep hygiene. Behaviours during the day and right before bedtime might have an impact on how well you sleep. The food and beverages that you consume, the schedule, the night-time ritual, and a variety of other factors all influence the ability to sleep.

Sleep hygiene is the process of developing a variety of healthy habits in order to have a good night's sleep.

Let's take a closer look at some ways to improve sleep hygiene for better sleep.

1. Keep a consistent sleep schedule

Every night, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time. This helps strengthen the body's sleep pattern, making it simpler to fall asleep and wake up on a daily basis. Maintaining a regular schedule may also aid in reducing daytime sleepiness.

2. Create a relaxing bedtime routine

A soothing night-time ritual allows you to unwind and prepare for sleep. Maintaining a consistent schedule also aids the body in recognizing that it is bedtime when the routine begins. This may assist you in falling asleep faster. It is beneficial to begin your sleep regimen approximately 30 to 60 minutes before your usual bedtime. Here are some suggestions for relaxing before bedtime:

  • Take a warm bath or shower.
  • Try some gentle stretches.
  • Spend a few minutes meditating.
  • Try listening to some soothing music while you focus on your breathing.
  • Spend time reading a book.

Avoid anything stressful or overly stimulating, like emotional conversations or work right before hitting the bed.

3. Turn off electronic devices before you go to sleep

Electronic gadgets, like the phone, produce blue light, which might lower the melatonin levels in the body.

Melatonin is the hormone that regulates the sleeping and waking cycles. It might be more difficult to fall asleep when the melatonin levels drop. Blue-light emitting devices can also serve as a distraction, keeping the mind active. It may be more difficult to fall asleep as a result of this. Message notifications, buzzing, and light that might appear out of nowhere in the middle of the night can wake one up and cause sleep disruption.

4. Exercise regularly

Even 30 minutes of aerobic activity each day can help one sleep better and enhance overall health. If you can exercise outdoors, the advantages may be amplified even more, as natural light aids in the regulation of the sleep cycle. Just avoid exercising within an hour or two before going to bed. This can raise energy levels and body temperature, making falling asleep more difficult.

5. Limit your caffeine intake

Caffeine's effects can persist anywhere from 3 to 7 hours after ingestion. Although it's generally preferable to limit caffeine usage to the morning hours, bear in mind that everyone's tolerance for caffeine is different. The less caffeine one consumes, the more sensitive one may be to its effects.

6. Make your sleep environment work for you

A cold, dark, and quiet environment may make it easier for one to fall asleep and remain asleep. For the majority of people, a bedroom temperature of 15.6°C to 19.4°C is ideal for sleeping.

It's also crucial to have a comfortable mattress, pillows, and bed linens.

A decent set of earplugs might help one sleep without being disturbed whether they're a light sleeper or have noisy neighbors.

7. Go to bed only when you're tired

You should not lie in bed tossing and turning if not exhausted. Get out of bed if you haven't fallen asleep after 20 minutes of going to bed. You could feel frustrated if you can't fall asleep, which will keep you awake even longer.

8. Limit napping, or avoid it altogether if you can

Napping during the day can make it harder to fall asleep later and may make one more prone to waking up during the night.

If you do need to nap:

  • Keep it to 30 minutes or less.
  • Avoid napping later in the afternoon.

Napping may affect the sleep pattern of older adults more than that of younger people.

9. Manage stress before going to bed

One of the best ways to avoid stress is time management as it helps you plan your day in advance. This will help prevent worries from keeping you awake. Apart from that, you can try:

  • Write down your worries before going to bed.
  • Prioritize what needs to be done tomorrow and during the rest of the week.
  • Research suggests that a weighted blanket may help with anxiety and insomnia, and it may provide benefits similar to deep pressure therapy.
  • Try meditation before bedtime to help calm the mind.

Conclusion

The quality of your sleep is impacted by your behavior both throughout the day and around night. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, there are various ways that might help you fall asleep quickly and sleep for longer periods of time. The majority of these ways entail better sleep hygiene.

Abiding by a routine, practicing a calming night-time ritual, exercising frequently, keeping the bedroom dark and at a suitable temperature, and controlling what you eat and drink during the day and before bedtime can all help you sleep better.

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Dr. Jatin Bhide

Dr Jatin Bhide is an Ayurvedic doctor with over 16 years of enriching experience in Marketing and Strategy across OTC/FMHG, herbal medicine and Nutraceuticals (Europe) industries. He did his Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) from Mumbai University, before moving on to do a Post Graduate Diploma in Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Management.

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