Feeling sleepy and unable to get the sleep you need?
You’re not alone. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), on any given day, as many as one in five adults suffers from an insufficient amount of sleep! Insomnia affects adolescents, adults, and the elderly.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. The condition can be short-term (acute) or can last a long time (chronic). It may also come and go. Acute insomnia lasts from 1 night to a few weeks. Insomnia is chronic when it happens at least 3 nights a week for 3 months or more.
Insomnia does not mean a complete lack of sleep alone. It includes a host of sleep problems, such as:
Difficulty falling asleep
Waking up in the middle of the night and unable to get back to sleep
Waking up early in the morning without feeling rested
Non-restful or interrupted sleep
Have you heard anyone boasting that he or she only needs six hours of sleep? Sleeping has traditionally been equated with laziness. Sleeping less is therefore considered heroic and is worn as a badge of honour and worthy of being a boast. However, it has been proven by science that most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep.
Getting less than the required sleep can:
Cause significant lowering of your productivity levels
Cause fatigue, irritability, and excessive daytime sleepiness
Weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to colds, viral fevers and other diseases
Cause elevated stress levels, blood pressure and risk of heart disease
Cause a tendency to develop or exacerbate risk of diabetes, cancer, obesity and other lifestyle diseases
Contribute to chronic pain
Exacerbate anxiety, depression and other mental illness including suicidal feelings
Reduce memory, focus and concentration, leading to decreased performance at work
Decrease motor function and attention, making driving hazardous
Techniques for Relieving Insomnia without Medication
Medicines can be good for some things, but prescription pills for sleeping aren’t always the best solution. Most over-the-counter sleeping pills can actually make the problem worse. Even if they help you sleep through the night, the sleep is not necessarily deep or restful. It is more sedation than sleep. Also, people can become dependent on these sleeping pills, and many develop a tolerance to sleep meds over time, requiring more and more medication to get the same effect.
So before you pop that pill for your sleep problems, try this routine instead.
Personalized Night Routine (PNR)
Fix your wake-up time based on your needs. Please note that the first hour after wake up should be a time for introspection (meditation, purpose thinking, etc), exercise, and learning. Avoid mobile phones, the internet, or gadgets.
Assume you fix 6 am as your wake-up time. It is recommended that you maintain this timing even on holidays. Your bedtime should be 8 hours to 9 hours before that.
So if 10 pm is your assumed sleep time, your PNR should be prepared for the hour preceding that.
I have shared a typical schedule for your PNR that can be customized as per your needs.
Step 1: Dinner to be completed at least 2 hours before bedtime. (Anytime between 6 and 8 pm). Sunset or before is the ideal time for dinner.
Step 2: Avoid coffee (or caffeine) post-lunch
Step 3: Around one hour before sleep time, a warm water shower.
9:00 PM: A light stretch exercise to loosen up your muscles and remove the stress of the day. Lights to be dimmed. Avoid mobile, internet, TV, computer or any electronic devices.
9:10 PM: Plan your next day’s TO DO list. Write it down.
9:20 PM: If too many thoughts persist, write your night journal, where you pen down the thoughts as they come. (This list can be looked at the next morning for action or for discarding)
9:30 PM: Write down your gratitude journal. 3 things you are grateful it happened to you. 3 things that others have done for you. 3 things that you have done for others or yourself.
9:40 PM: Reading / Music / Night affirmations audio / Brahmari Pranayama practice. Learn how: https://youtu.be/Tbgj_gGzPeI
9:50 PM: Forgive others and yourself for all the hurts or resentments that may have built up during the day
10:00 PM: Make sure the sheets and covers are clean. Get into bed and massage your feet and palms. Give yourself self-love. And get into bed.
In case you are unable to sleep after 20 mins in bed, don’t lie in bed tossing and turning. Get up. Move to another room and do something relaxing. Get back into bed only when you feel sleepy again.
Sleep is your birthright and is natural to you. You don't need to learn how to do it. Just relax and let go, your body knows how to sleep.
Your bed is for sleeping only or making love to your partner. It should not be used for eating, watching TV, working, checking emails/browsing, reading, etc. Your bed should not remember you doing some other activity in bed.
Get ample sunlight in the morning first thing. Early morning sun should fall on your skin to reset your internal circadian clock
Every day you need to exercise vigorously for 30 to 60 minutes. Your heart should be pumping and you need to break into a sweat for at least 30 minutes daily.
Avoid mobile phones, gadgets and TV in the first hour after waking up and the last hour before sleep
Dim lights at least one hour before sleep time.
Learn to wake up on your own, without an alarm. Let your body and mind get the full sleep it deserves. Go to sleep 8+ hours before your expected wake-up time.
Be in deep sleep between 11:00 pm and 3:00 am. 10:00 pm to 5:00+ am is the right time to get the best quality sleep for your body and mind.