Sleep plays a very important role in keeping you healthy. And a lack of shut-eye can raise the likelihood of developing diseases like diabetes, stroke and obesity. “Getting good sleep is important for your overall health. It may reduce your risk of chronic illness, keeps your brain and digestion healthy, and boosts your immune system,” says nutritionist Raheela Hasan.
And for those who feel groggy after lunch and find it difficult to stay awake, the solution is not to drink copious amounts of coffee. “There are two sleep cycles at night, and the one in the afternoon depending on whether an individual sleeps late or rises early,” says Dr Deepti Bagree, Head of Department, Healthcare, Reset: Holistic Living Concepts. You can blame the post-lunch grogginess on the body’s internal clock that makes us sleepy, although food does play a role in secreting sleep hormones. “The phenomenon is quite natural and the best way to address it is not by forcing yourself to stay awake by sipping on coffee/tea, but to catch a quick power nap,” she says.
Here are some hacks to fall asleep quickly and enjoy a peaceful rest, so that you can get the most benefits from your sleep time and wake up refreshed:
* Take more power naps.
A nap should ideally be 10-20 minutes long to improve alertness, concentration and boost your mood. Bear in mind, napping in excess may lead to sleep inertia at night. “A 20-minute nap prior to exercise (if you are tired) also helps gather energy and focus for a power-packed exercise routine,” says Dr Bagree.
* Take a warm bath.
Taking a warm shower 20-30 minutes before bedtime can help you get good sleep, as it relaxes the muscles and nerves, and dilates blood vessels which help in better circulation. “One feels relaxed due to a drop in the body’s temperature and can fall asleep easily. A warm water shower also initiates the detoxification process and prepares the body to undergo a cleanse during your sleep,” says Dr Bagree.
* Sleep alone to beat insomnia.
Sleeping alone may be a good idea for people who have difficulty falling asleep due to noise, light, or temperature difference. “Two individuals sharing a room may have different body types, so they may have different temperature preferences that might affect the other partner. Some individuals’ snoring/loud breathing might disturb the other person’s sleep too,” says Dr Bagree. However, if you are afraid of sleeping alone or have health issues, it is best to sleep with a family member.
* Don’t exercise before going to bed.
While exercise through the week can help you sleep better, avoid exercising right before bedtime. Nutritionist Raheela Hasan says it’s best to exercise three to six hours before bedtime to get maximum sleep benefit. “You should not exercise in the late evening or just before going to bed,” she says.
But physical activity through the week is a good way to enjoy sound sleep. “Physical activity improves sleep quality and increases sleep duration. Exercise may also bolster sleep in other ways, because it reduces stress,” says Hasan.
* Make changes in your diet plan.
Incorporate foods like almonds, chamomile tea, turmeric milk , walnuts , cherry juice, and passion fruit tea in your diet as they have sleep-promoting properties. “Try having your last meal by 8 pm. Keep a gap of 3-4 hours before you go to sleep after eating. When you lie down immediately after eating, the acids present in the stomach enter your food pipes due to the gravitational force and produce a burning sensation,” says Hasan.