Lockdown has changed our sleep cycle and lack of sleep has become one of the side effects of COVID-19 lockdown. This could be due to change in lifestyle, stress or more use of screen and gadgets. Lack of sleep can often be mistaken with insomnia, sleep apnea and various types of sleep disorders. I am not a sleep specialist so I won’t get into that in detail in this article but in today, I am going to discuss the importance of sleep, what causes lack of sleep and our home remedies and lifestyle hacks which may help you get that sound sleep. Some say our bodies need 7-8 hours sleep while some health advocates claim, 5 hours sleep is enough. But actually, more than the length of sleep, it is how sound your sleep is which is important and of course maintaining a basic level of 7 – 8 hours sleep which is important. However, this length of sleep may vary from children to adults.
Why is sleep important for us?
Sleep plays a major role in our body functioning like it controls our appetite by regulating our hormones ghrelin and leptin, it also helps in building our immunity, controlling blood sugars, brain functions, growth (yes, in teenage and childhood, sleep is important for growth and development) so, think about how much screen your child is using. Sleep is our basic need just like food, water and breath.
What causes lack of sleep?
Anxiety, weight, depression or feelings of low, lifestyle, age related factors and underlying conditions to name a few. There are so many more reasons for lack of sleep. Stress, anxiety, age and many underlying health issues can lead to lack of sleep or inability to sleep. Lifestyle has become one of the prime factors in sleepless nights.
Also Read: Why Is Sleep Apnea Known As A Silent Killer?
Sensors in our eyes when exposed to full spectrum light like sun they send signals to our brain to wake up and when it is dark, they signal our body to sleep. Our bedroom should be completely dark at night. I know you will question we don’t have sun but think about blue light emitted by screens or gadgets like mobile, phone, televisions, and all other artificial lights at night, they disrupt our sleep pattern. Our eye sensors are very sensitive to blue light. Just turning on your mobile or screen for few seconds can bring sleep hormone melatonin down.
So, below are Top 10 natural ways to get good sleep, see which hack works for you.
1# Drink a cup of warm milk and add a pinch of nutmeg powder. Milk contains tryptophan which helps in releasing sleep hormone melatonin. Nutmeg has a calming effect on our body and it helps in sleep.
2# If you can make almond milk at home, it is even a better choice. Homemade almond milk with a pinch of nutmeg and cardamom assists in good sleep. If you have sleep apnea, I suggest in a glass of homemade almond milk add ginger and nutmeg and consume before going to sleep or as simple as chamomile tea- just have a cup of that before going to bed.
3# Pistachios- Pistachios are rich in melatonin. Our body needs 0.30 mg of melatonin per day which are available in 2 pistas easily. Who can imagine that eating 2 pistas a day keeps insomnia at bay? Have 2 pistas with a cup of milk at night for a good sleep. Pistachios are also great for diabetes patients.
4# Other melatonin rich foods include tomatoes, mushrooms, capsicums, grapes, cherries, strawberries, eggs white, fish, lentils and pulses, sprouts are all rich sources of melatonin. Lowest melatonin is found in potatoes.
5# In winter season grab some cherries and strawberries for a snack? They are not only low in calories but really rich in melatonin and anthocyanins needed for our body.
6# Adding some simple home remedies like apply sesame oil (in winter) or coconut oil (in summers) to the sole of your feet before going to bed can be helpful. You can also infuse Brahmi with ghee and make a medicated ghee and apply to the sole of your feet before going to bed. It will help you relax and get good sleep. Please refer to a local practitioner before making any medicated ghee.
7# Get on some sunlight and reduce blue artificial light from the gadgets- as mentioned above turning on mobile or any electronic gadgets can interfere in sleep. But getting sufficient sunlight for vitamin d helps our body produce “the good: hormone serotonin which helps in production of sleep hormone melatonin. If you still have to work or use the screen get on some blue light reflector glasses which are available in local stores.
8# Nasya – This is my latest favorite. I first tried this technique when I was on a health retreat. Adding organic or pure ghee (3-4 drops) to each nostril before bed works excellent in inducing sleep. Make sure ghee is organic and cow’s ghee and your head is slightly tilted when you apply this to your nostril.
9# Regular movement and especially yogic pranayama- Brahmri, Alom Vilom, chanting increases blood flow to our brain and helps and relax our tensed muscles. Allow yourself to meditate for 20 minutes before going to bed and listen to some light music.
10# If you are overweight- think about losing that extra fat. Excess fat or weight can cause sleep apnea, which causes difficulty in breathing while asleep. Even losing 10-15% of initial body weight will help in a good sleep.
Above lifestyle and health hacks may work for some. I am sure even if you choose one of the abovementioned hack in your everyday life, it will help you get better sleep and help in other related medical issues.
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