Articles on sleep better

Better Sleep Better Health !!

Dr. Trupti Vedpathak, Psychiatrist
Given that an average person sleeps for 8 hrs in a day, that means we spent on an average one third of our life sleeping. Everyone has problem with their sleep at times. This is perfectly normal. In most cases, this problem often gets resolved by itself; however, if it last for long, it is likely to impact day-to-day functioning and eventually affect the quality of your life. A large percentage of people suffering from sleep disorder often opt for temporary solution by having sleeping pills which later becomes a habit.Following are few easy tips to deal with sleep problems:Establish a routine: Set a strict bedtime schedule by getting up at the same time every day, this will help as your body will start to associate times of the day with sleeping.There should be minimal variations in sleep timings during weekends & holidays.Make your bedroom a calm place: Relax your mind & body by keeping the bedroom dark & quiet & cool.Turn off electrical screens: Mobiles, computers, TV stimulate the brain, making it hard to relax. 'wind down' time of 1 hr before going to bed is preferred.Avoid naps: Do not nap during the day or confine naps to early afternoon; no longer than 40 minutes.Notice what you eat or drink: Avoid tea or coffee after 4pm. No smoking or tobacco for atleast 1 hr before bedtime. Do not eat heavy meals near bedtime. A glass of warm milk or banana or warm bath at bedtime will help induce sleep.Avoid clock gazing: Do not repeatedly look at the clock at night, it will make you more anxious. If an alarm clock is needed, place it in the drawer where it can be heard but not seen.Try to do some exercise: Exercise daily. Do not exercise too close to bedtime, as it can disrupt your sleep.Try to resolve your worries: Write your worries on a piece of paper & allot a time during the day to think over it.Check for physical cause: If any pain,  physical illness or mental illness or medication is making it difficult for you to sleep, see a doctor.Don't force yourself to sleep: This will make you more anxious. If sleep doesn't occur in bed for more than 20 min then move out of bed without switching on the light & return back only when sleepy.Sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital functions. So lets SLEEP WELL & STAY HEALTHY..

6 Simple Tips to Help You Sleep Better

Dr. Era S. Dutta, Psychiatrist
Insomnia is a leading cause of stress amongst most working-class population. It affects mood, work quality, and your overall well-being. If lately you find yourself not sleeping well and are experiencing all of the above mentioned things then here are a few simple tips that you should try- 1. Identify the causeThis is the first and foremost step for solving any problem. Try to ask yourself some basic questions like- Is there something on your mind which is bothering you now more than earlier? e.g. Stress can often make you feel anxious and make it difficult for you to fall sleep.2. Tire yourself out physicallyIt is good to regularly practice some form of physical activity during the day e.g. exercise, yoga, etc. It helps you to fall asleep more easily. It also helps you to get better quality of sleep.3. Do not go to bed on an empty stomach It is essential to keep your nutrition up to the mark and never go to bed on an empty stomach. 4. Do not worry about not being able to sleepIt has been scientifically shown that worrying about not being able to sleep actually worsens a person's ability to sleep. People tend to make themselves more nervous about not being able to sleep for adequate hours. By doing so they are more likely to stay awake. It is a vicious circle.5. NO MOBILE PHONES IN BED!You can read a magazine or a book, but the light from the smartphones affects your ability to sleep properly.6. No clock-watchingDo not keep checking the time every few minutes.If despite following these basic steps of sleep hygiene you are unable to get sound sleep, it is best to consult with a psychiatrist who will guide you and help you with curing your insomnia.

Can Exercise Help You Sleep Better?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Many people even after sleeping for 8 hours feel sleepy and tired by mid-day. This can happen because of low quality sleep. Do you also feel the same way during the day? It might be the time to examine your lifestyle habits in terms of food and exercise. Did you know that including exercise in your daily routine can help you in getting better quality sleep. Let’s see how this actually works.According to a poll in 2013 by the National Sleep Foundation in the U.S, people who worked out or exercised regularly seemed to have better quality sleep than people who did not do any physical activity even though they said they slept well every night. If you are inactive then even starting with adding a 10 minute walk initially every day could improve your likelihood of better quality sleep. In fact, it was also found in the poll that non exercisers are at a higher risk of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a medical condition in which a person stops breathing during sleep. Its symptoms often include tiredness, snoring, and high blood pressure. It also increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.Not having enough sleep or lack of good quality sleep can also lead to weight gain. When you do not exercise it leads to poorer sleep which in turn makes you lethargic for the whole day and keeps your energy levels low. Therefore, not exercising and low quality sleep becomes a vicious cycle. In fact lack of sleep or lack of quality sleep will make you crave for comfort food like potato chips, ice cream, etc which in the long run will make you gain weight and attract lifestyle diseases. The major drawback of this vicious cycle is you start drinking more of tea/coffee to keep yourself going for daily activities. This adds more caffeine and sugar in your daily diet which if consumed in high quantity can affect your health adversely.To have good quality sleep, try to inculcate the following in your routine:1. Include a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity in your daily routine. If you are a beginner than start with light exercises like walking or running or you can even include some other physical activities like kickboxing. But, don’t exercise at the expense of your sleep.2. Keep the environment of your bedroom calm and quiet with a comfortable mattress and pillow because this will help further relax your body and might help in improving sleep quality.3. Before going to bed relax yourself and try some meditation or deep breathing. Switch off the television or laptop at least 1 hour before going to bed or you can include some relaxing rituals like a warm bath or listening to calming music.4. Make a routine of going to bed and waking up at a same time daily. Stop spending extra time in your bed when you are already awake.5. Don’t keep your desktop, work files or TV in your bedroom.Include the above to improve sleep quality but if you are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring, or "stop breathing" episodes in your sleep, you must get in touch with a physician for a sleep apnea screening.

Are You Sleeping Right?

Dr. Rajiv Mehta, Physiotherapist
Sleep is a natural part of the daily biological functions and we spend some time of the 24 hours sleeping. Sleep cycles are different for different persons and while 5 to 6 hours of sleep may be enough for some people, others may need up to 8 hours of sleep to feel refreshed. How you sleep is as important as the duration. This is one area which is often neglected by people.Why sleeping positions are important? Sleeping positions are very important as you stay in a single position for hours at a time every day, and if these habits are bad, they can contribute to spinal problems. Thus, many of the spinal problems can also be alleviated by sleeping correctly.Some of the bad sleeping positions that may adversely affect your spine are as follows.On your stomach - This position is in overall a bad position as it curls up the spine, especially where the neck meets the spine and can cause spinal deformities over a long period of time. Certain adjustments to this position can lessen the effects, but it is important to try to change habits and sleep in a better position.The fetal position - Although this is one of the more natural positions and most babies are crouched up in this form in the mother's womb; as a sleeping position, it has its disadvantages as well. The lower spine is especially put under a lot of stress when someone curls up in this position.On your side - Although this is safer compared to the other two, sleeping on your sides straight would cause blood circulation issues and also put a lot of stress on the relevant organs, depending on the side you were sleeping on.In all of the cases, slight adjustments to these positions will lessen the stress on the spine and also help you sleep better.Some of the adjustments that you can make are:1. Sleep with a pillow between your knees to align your hips and cause less strain on the spine.2. If you don't have sleep apnea, put a pillow under your knees to raise them while lying on you back.3. If you sleep on your back, try to consciously change your position to sleep on the side.4. Try and actively change your posture throughout the day to ensure good sleeping position at night.

Do Women Need More Sleep Than Men?

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Sleep is a fundamental requirement just like food and diet is for the functioning of a healthy body. Sleep even lays the ground work for a productive day ahead. Although most people need seven to nine hours of sleep each night to function well the next day, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) 1998 Women and Sleep Poll found that the average woman aged 30-60 sleeps only six hours and forty-one minutes during the workweek.Studies show that women need more sleep than men. "Poor sleep certainly had a more profound effect on women than on men," says Edward Suarez, Ph.D., an associate professor at Duke University School of Medicine "One of the major functions of sleep is to allow the brain to recover and repair itself. During deep sleep, the cortex — the part of the brain responsible for thought, memory, language and so on — disengages from the senses and goes into recovery mode,” Jim Horne, director of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University in England, told The Australian. "The more of your brain you use during the day, the more it needs to recover and, consequently, the more sleep you need. Women tend to multi-task — they do lot at once and are flexible — and so they use more of their actual brain than men do.”It follows that, if men used their brains more during the day, they would need a couple of extra hours too. "A man who has a complex job that involves a lot of decision-making and lateral thinking may also need more sleep than the average male — though probably still not as much as a woman,” Horne said. Getting the right amount of sleep is vital, but just as important is the quality of your sleep. Biological conditions of women are unique, like the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause. All of these conditions can affect how well a woman sleeps. This is because the changing levels of hormones that a woman experiences throughout the month and over her lifetime, like the levels of estrogen and progesterone, have an impact on sleep.Lack of sleep is associated with increased risk of heart disease and obesity because lack of sleep causes increases secretion of the leptin hormone, which leads to excessive food cravings and may cause obesity. This even causes heart disease if left untreated. Lack of sleep leads to diabetes due to increased levels of the stress hormone, which stimulates the production of insulin and causes high blood sugar level, as well as more stress, depression, anxiety, and anger. However, these associations were weaker for men.So go to bed at the same time every day of the week, avoid heavy meals before bed, establish a relaxing bedtime routine, nap occasionally to make up for lost sleep, eat healthy and exercise daily.

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Dr. Darpan Kaur, Psychiatrist
Sleep is a an essential physiological function of the human body. Sleep plays a very important function in restoring the wear and tear of daily life and providing the desired rest and restitution to the body and mind. As we grow older, the quality of our sleep may change. When we are younger as in childhood we tend to have more hours of sound sleep but as we  grow older the number of hours we sleep and the quality of sound sleep can deteriorate significantly. Moreover, the demands of work, professional deadlines, travel stress, physical ill health, excessive gadgets usage before bedtime, mental stress, all of these can contribute towards poor sleep! Some of the common sleep problems are difficulty in falling asleep. difficulty in maintaining sleep, sleep disturbances such as bad dreams excessively, night mares, etc, sleeping too less or too much and not feeling fresh after getting up from sleep. In today's life style of travelling across the globe and night shifts can lead to disturbance in our body's natural circadian rhythm which can lead to jet lag, shift work sleep disorder, etc. Poor sleep quality can also be associated with cardiac events and accidents. Poor sleep can make us inattentive , irritable, distracted, restless, sleepy and groggy at our workplace and study place. A person having chronic untreated sleep problems can also have problems with efficiency and work performance.  Insomnia, Hypersomnia, Parasomnia are types of sleep disorders. Certain medical conditions, medications and substances such as alcohol, cannabis, nicotine can also interfere with sleep. Sleep disturbance is also a part of psychiatric disorders such as adjustment disorder, acute stress reaction, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, mania,psychosis, addictions, etc. Children can have bed wetting and night terrors during sleep. I have written some dos and donts which is not a fully comprehensive list, yet can be helpful for getting good sleep.Dos:It is preferable to stop late night use of gadgets, apps, internet, TV viewing if you are having problems in falling asleep. Learn to switch off from all of these everyday at least an hour before you go to sleep. Practice relaxation daily before going to sleep. Deep breathing exercises while lying on your bed with a focus on breathing slowly and being aware of each breath and slowing down your system with use of some positive images in your mind can help in falling asleep.Late Evening prayers can helpful for sleep based on your own belief systems.Eat light meals at bedtime and drinking a cup of warm milk can help in getting sleep.You may add almonds, cashew nuts, saffron, etc based on your preference. Taking a relaxing shower prior to bedtime can help sleep well. Do cut down on daily intake of excessive consumption of sugar, salt, oil,spices in your diet if you are experiencing severe gastrointestinal discomfort while falling asleep and also waking up at night feeling uneasy, bloated, acidity, pain in abdomen, etc.Monitor  daily intake of tea and coffee and cut down intake if you have problems with sleep.Be positive at bedtime. Live for each day to its fullest ! Tell your mind positive self statements at bed time that " Yes, I am doing good! I am doing fine! Things are great! Life has been good to me! I shall conquer all my problems! No need to worry! Things are in control! Situation will get better! I can work something out! Life is beautiful! I am doing well for myself! Things will change for the best! "' These kind of positive statements said to yourself can help you gain  control over negative defeating thoughts which maybe coming in your mind at bedtime while you stare at the ceiling trying to fall asleep at night especially when you are facing difficult stressful times. Try to cut down on smoking and chewing tobacco. Seek professional help for de-addiction from nicotine and tobacco.Try to cut down on alcohol if you are facing problems in sleep  related to alcohol. Seek professional help in quitting alcohol.  Drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, heroin, etc have harmful consequences on sleep and mental health. Seek professional help to quit from them.Try to have a fixed schedule of sleeping at the same time and waking up at the same time everyday. Pay attention to your bed room, clean the bed room regularly, keep changing sheets regularly and keep replacing old bed sheets, pillows, pillow covers regularly. Pay attention to the right temperature settings and dress in comfortable night clothes as per your preference.Donts:Do not drink excessive caffeine, tea, stimulant drinks before going to sleep or  late evening if you are having problems falling asleep.Tobacco  can interfere with sleep and avoid smoking or chewing tobacco just before going to bed. Alcohol can interfere with sleep and avoid drinking alcohol before going to bed.Do not indulge in drugs such as cannabis , cocaine, heroin,etc as they interfere with sleep.Do not eat heavy meals or drink too much water just before going to bed.Avoid excessive TV viewing or internet viewing just before going to sleep. Avoid excessive texting and playing online games just before going to sleep.Do not do excessive rigorous exercise  very late evening if u are having a persistent problem in falling asleep  as it can switch on certain neurotransmitters and can interfere in falling asleep for some individuals.Do not use your bed for eating, drinking, studying, watching TV, working/surfing on your lap top. Do not sleep with lights and gadgets on as it can cause sleep interference.Do not think and worry excessively about how was your day, who upset you, why u did this or that and why you shouldn't have done this or that. All these ruminations, worries, anxiety just before going to sleep will certainly affect your sleep. Do not cry or pick up quarrels with others before going to sleep as it will affect your sleep quality.Do not keep getting up and checking the phone, alarm clock or the watch to see what is the time again and again.Do not have a varied sleeping schedule which is very erratic where in one day you sleep at eleven pm the second day at one am and third day at three am. Do not take long hours of nap in the afternoon or evening as it then interferes in falling asleep at night. If despite your best efforts, you are not able to get good sleep, kindly consult a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist will screen you for a psychiatric disorder where sleep disturbance may be a predominant symptom such as anxiety disorder, stress related disorder, depression, mania, psychosis, etc. They will assess you and provide you treatment for your sleep problems based on whether you have Insomnia, Hypersomnia or Parasomnia related conditions. After clinically evaluating you, they may suggest some tests, teach you relaxation training, sleep hygiene therapy and psychological therapy targeting the cause of your sleep problems. They may also prescribe you medications for the sleep condition you suffer from.  He/She may also refer you to a Neurologist or  a Sleep Physician as per clinical expertise for conditions such as Sleep Apneas, Nocturnal Epilepsy, Narcolepsy, Restless Leg Syndrome, etc which may need a a comprehensive  evaluation with Sleep Lab based assessments and multidisciplinary interventions.

Good Sleep for Good Health

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Nothing makes you feel more refreshed than a good sleep in night. It is a natural cyclic state of resting for mind and body. There’s more to an ideal 7-8 hrs of sleep than just preparing our bodies for the next day. Adequate sleep is an essential part of good health and plays an important role in all body functions hence ensuring a better mental and physical fitness.The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) reported that good sleep is essential for a person’s health and well being.Lord Chesterfield very well said that “A light supper, a good night's sleep and a fine morning have often made a hero out of the same man, who, by indigestion, a restless night and a rainy morning would have proved a coward."Now, the question is “Can good sleep make good health?”Yes, sleep makes you feel better. Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle. Without it, one becomes more susceptible to health problems, such as heart disease, obesity, depression and many more. Some facts of sleep which lead to a healthy life are -Good Sleep Keeps Heart Healthy: Lack of sleep has been associated with worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol so some experts say that heart will be healthier if one gets between( 7 -9 hours) of sleep each night.Sleep Helps to Make Body Repairs: Sleep is a time for your body to repair damage caused by stress, ultraviolet rays and other harmful exposures. Your cells produce more protein while you are sleeping. These protein molecules form the building blocks for cells, allowing them to repair damage. This is the time when the cells undergo wear and tear and that’s what makes you feel refreshed in the morning.Good Sleep Reduces Stress: When your body is sleeping deficient, it goes into a state of stress. Therefore it is recommended to have good sleep in order to allow your body to cope with day’s stress and manage it in a better way with a relaxed mind. It is found that any amount of sleep deprivation reduces mental performance.Sleep & Weight Loss: Lack of sufficient sleep affects the appetite regulating hormones. It also aggravates cravings for high-fat and carbohydrate rich foods, making a route to weight gain. It also affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, a key factor in weight management. So, if you want to be on a healthy weight, make sure you get a good sleep every night.Good Sleep Reduces Depression: Lack of proper sleep and depression is inter-linked. Depression may lead to insomnia and lack of sleep increases depression. Sleep impacts serotonin levels (feel-good hormone) which affect the mood of an individual.Sleep Prevents Cancer: People working for long hours have a higher risk for breast and colon cancer. There is evidence stating that good sleep can alter the balance of hormones in the body which may influence cancer progression.As very well said by Benjamin Franklin, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy & wise.”

Is Your Child Sleeping Well?

Dr. K R Bharath Kumar Reddy, Pulmonologist
Sleep is an important fundamental need of every child for both mental and physical well being. We underestimate the importance of sleep, which is shown to influence the child's growth, immunity, memory and development. The amount of sleep required varies according to the age of a child.A new born baby requires around 16 to 18 hours of sleep.A pre-school toddler may need around 12 hours of sleep including both night and day time sleep.A school going child, requires around 10 hours of sleep at night.Teenagers are recommended sleep of 9 hours but this obviously never happens.Adult requirement is nearly 7 to 8 hours.But it is important to note, that it is not the quantity or duration of sleep that is important for good health, but the quality of sleep. So we need to always question whether a child is actually sleeping well, even though he/she sleeps for long hours.When do you start suspecting a sleep problem?Nearly 25-30% of children are known to suffer from sleep problems as per international data. Adults when sleep deprived are sleepy during the day, but this is not so with children. They can present with varied symptoms such as:Excessive sleeping during the dayMoodiness and irritabilityTemper tantrumsEmotional surgesHyperactive behaviourGrogginess when they wake up in the morningReluctance to get out of bed in the morning or difficult to awakenNot achieving bladder control at nightExcessive movement of legs during sleepSo in case your child has any of the above symptoms, it is important to consider the possibility of a sleep problem and consult your doctor for the same.