Improving Your Sleep
Maintain sleep hygiene: Make your bed room a place for sleep and not an extension of your office. Go into the bed room only when you are ready to sleep, go in with a conscious mindfulness that you are going to sleep. Leave every work and task behind and switch off the lights before getting into the bed.
You must make conscious efforts to make your bed room and your bed look attractive and inviting, do not treat your bedroom without concern and see it as a very important place where you end your day. Some people sleep better in hotel rooms than they do in their homes, the difference is only the sleep environment. You can make yours also relaxing.
You need to develop a sleep pattern, maintain roughly the same bed time and wake time throughout the entire week. Your body over time gets used to this timing.
Keep your bedroom dark and cool, keeping all kinds of lights out. If you must use light, use “sleep friendly” light bulbs. Television in the bedroom is a great source of distraction leading to sleep deprivation.
Do not use the bed as a dining table or desk; it defiles the term “BED”. This makes our bed attractive to ants and other crawling insects that in turn disturb our sleep.
Most importantly, do not bring in your gadgets or phones into your bed room when you are ready to sleep. If you must bring them in, you either switch them off or put them on silence mode. One email or an SMS that drops into your phone can deprive you of sleep the entire night. Yes, global economies but your health must not be made to melt with it.
Scheduling Your Meals and Physical Activity
- Avoid caffeine 4 6 hours before bed time. It is advisable to avoid coffee after lunch time.
- Avoid alcohol 3 4 hours before bed time
- Do not eat large or high fat meals within 2 3 hours of bed time
- Include some exercise every day but avoid vigorous exercise 2 3 hours before bed time
- Learn mindfulness and meditation techniques to help you relax.
Sleep diary: Popularly known as written log. You can use this to know the number of hours you sleep every day. Keep a sheet by your bed side, when you are ready to sleep write the time down, each time you wake up to use the convenience write wake up time and sleep time. This will help you know how many hours of sleep you are getting and how consistent it is.
Tracking device: These are electronic devices worn on the wrist, ankle, chest or head. It depends on the one you find convenient. It helps you track your hours of sleep, some of them also track both your stress level and your heart beat.
Smart Phone Apps: A number of these sleep tracking applications are on Play Store in your mobile phones, you can download them and use them to track your sleeping pattern.
Medical Evaluation is necessary if you suffer from severe sleep deprivation or disorders.
What is Poor Sleep?
When we talk about poor sleep, we are talking about a number of sleeps and sleep related disorders. Prominent amongst these are insomnia and chronic insomnia.
Insomnia is defined as a state of habitual sleeplessness or inability to sleep. This affects about 10% of a population.
Sleep Apnea is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. This ultimately affects your ability to getting good enough sleep. Sleep apnea affects 20% of a population; many people have sleep apnea without knowing. It is important to always seek a Physician’s review.
Restless Leg Syndrome: If you have followed us on our blog www.ohsmcomng.blogspot.com, you will see the article we had written on restless leg syndrome. It is a must read. Restless Leg Syndrome popularly known as RLS, is a neurological disorder characterized by throbbing, pulling, creeping, or other unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable, and sometimes overwhelming, urge to move them. One of the causes of RLS is excessive use of excess high heels shoes; this has become a global concern at workplace. This has a strong interaction with the duration of use, frequency of use and height of heels. Ladies are more involved in this, it makes them look really elegant, but we must look at the health risk. When these unpleasant sensation starts, it will surely deprive you of sleep, 5% of a population suffer from RLS.
Circadian Rhythm disorders have 2% prevalence in a population group and this also leads to sleep lose or sleep deprivation.
Narcolepsy is another condition that is prevalent in 2% of a population. Narcolepsy is a condition characterized by an extreme tendency to fall asleep whenever in relaxing surroundings. This is witnessed every day in our environment, it is most common amongst new born. But this also tells us the relationship between a relaxed environment and sleep, so we must strive to make our bedroom more relaxing for the sake of good sleep leading to improved health outcomes.
Mild and moderate sleep complaints: This has 50% prevalent in a population, most people complain of these but they are never sure of what the real causes are but I am sure you will know that a number of factors are responsible after reading this article.
There is also a condition called dysomnia which is a diametrical opposite of insomnia. We will not be able to take all that now; I will need you to follow us in the next edition for the continuation of these issues bothering on sleep and health. We will be taking the concluding part in the next edition focusing on chronic insomnia, National Sleep Foundation Guidelines on Sleep and a number of other concepts.
Reference: Dr. Punam Ohri-Vachaspati’s presentations in Arizona State University; http://www.howsleepworks.com/what_definition.html
Ehi Iden is Chief Executive Officer, Occupational Health and Safety Managers. He is a member: International Commission on Occupation Health (ICOH), World Safety Organisation (WSO), Society for Occupational Health Psychologists (SOHP), Initiator: 7.2 Initiative A Not-For Profit Social Venture on Preventive Health. He can be reached using firstname.lastname@example.org