Friday, 19 November 2010

Tips to get sound sleep

Insomnia is about not getting enough proper sleep. It includes frequent or extended awakening in the middle of sleep or sleep being delayed at night or shortened in the morning with early awakening, affecting the total duration of night sleep. 

Common features 

Anxiety or feeling agitated before sleep, feeling unrested after sleep, sleepiness and lethargy throughout the day, difficulty in concentration, irritable and tensed mood.


Make a 'sleep hygiene' habit 

Regular exercise helps. Early morning, late afternoon or early evening exercise doesn't interfere with sleep. However, refrain from exercise four hours prior to sleep.

Snacks before bedtime should be light and fluid intake limited.

Stay away from caffeine, nicotine and alcohol 4-6 hours before sleep. Get up and go to bed at the same time everyday as it helps your sleep cycle remain in rhythm. Adjust the temperature, light and noise levels to your needs.

Establish an optimal sleep pattern 

Go to bed only when you are 'sleepy tired'. Do not watch TV, work, study or eat in bed. If you are not asleep within 20 minutes, get out of bed and sit and relax in another room in dim-light or read something till you are sleepy again. Do not nap during the day. Do not take recovery sleep to compensate for a previous bad night.

Deal with tension & learn to relax 

Set up a work activity deadline at least 90 minutes prior to bedtime. Practice a relaxation routine in bed, concentrate on your breathing; release all the tension from your muscle groups — arms, neck, shoulders, face and eyes, stomach and back and legs. Don't worry about inability to sleep. Postpone the thinking of problems to the next morning.

How to sleep 

Do not try hard to fall asleep; refrain from 'clock watching'. State to yourself that 'sleep will come when it is ready'. Try to keep your eyes open in the darkened room. Visualise a pleasing scene.

(Inputs by Dr Chhavi Khanna, psychologist, Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai) 

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