July 11 2010
Many people suffer from sleeping difficulties every year. Sleep experts suggest different amounts of sleep needed for a restful night varies from person to person, but most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep daily.
A busy lifestyle can make it hard to get a good night’s sleep. Work, household responsibilities, looking after children, studies, and ongoing stress can make sleep difficult to come by. If you also add the unexpected challenges we may face such as, workplace stress, financial worries, relationship issues, or a medical illness, quality sleep may be even more difficult to attain. If chronic lack of sleep develops, it can make you irritable or depressed, disrupt your day to day functioning and concentration, cause weight gain, and increase your production of stress hormones and blood pressure. To be realistic, you may not be able to control the environment around you or even eliminate all the factors that interfere with your sleep, but you can help yourself to a more restful night by adopting a few good sleeping habits.
Below are 12 suggestions if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep:
1. Start a sleep routine where you go to sleep around the same time every day.
When you stick to a sleep-schedule, it helps you reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle and can help you fall asleep more easily at night. Also, you should wake up at the same time every day as this will help your body respond well to a consistent sleep-cycle.
2. Go to bed only when you are sleepy.
If you are not sleepy at bedtime, find something relaxing to do and make sure it is non-stimulating. Avoid television, exercise, listening to stimulating music.
3. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and heavy eating six hours before bedtime
Caffeinated drinks and nicotine are stimulants so avoid them for some time before your go to bed. Smokers can often experience withdrawal symptoms throughout the night [hint: QUIT smoking for improved sleep and improved overall physical health]. If you are susceptible to heartburn, it is best to avoid spicy or fatty foods, which can trigger a flare of heartburn and prevent a restful sleep. Furthermore, try to limit how much you drink before bed as this can wake up repeatedly during the night for trips to the toilet. If you want to drink a warm drink before bed, cammomile (aka chamomile) tea is recommended to assist in winding down.
4. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, slightly cool, and comfortable
You need to create a comfortable bedroom environment that is suitable for sleeping. Make sure you adjust the lighting, temperature, humidity and noise level to your preferences. Whether you choose to use blackout curtains, eye covers, earplugs, extra blankets, a fan or white-noise generator, these will help to create an environment that suits your needs.
5. Avoid taking your worries to bed.
The bed is only for sleep (and intimacy between spouses). If you find yourself worrying, or thinking about anything other than sleep after you have recited some verses of the Quran and duas (supplications) that were encouraged for recitation before sleeping, then get out of bed and remove the worries from the environment of the room. The bedroom is for you to sleep, not to worry. It is best to encourage yourself to either sort out your worries before bed, or park it for the next day to address.
6. Avoid taking long naps during the day.
If you have to nap during the day, make it short and try not to sleep after 3pm. Daytime naps may steal hours from your night-time slumber so try to limit them as you try and regulate your sleep-cycle first.
7. If you are not asleep after 20 minutes, get out of your bed and engage in a relaxing activity.
Go back to bed ONLY when you’re tired. Try not to agonise over falling asleep as this will add stress that will only prevent you from falling sleep.
8. Stop looking at the alarm clock!
Turn the alarm clock facing the wall so that you do not see the time as checking the time can increase anxiety and prevent you from getting back to sleep.
9. Exercise regularly.
Engaging in regular physical activity during the day, such as swimming, aerobic exercise, jogging, etc can help you fall asleep faster and make your sleep more restful.
10. Don’t underestimate the power of dua
Make dua to Allah (Most Compassionate) and ask for Him to help you relax and sleep for better health and well-being.
11. Start thinking about a relaxing bedtime routine
You need to talk to yourself and do the same things every night to tell your body it is time to wind down. Throughout the day, remind yourself how you are looking forward to relaxing and winding down when it is bed-time. Perform the same activities for winding down daily. Taking a hot shower one hour before you sleep or listening to the Quran, anasheed, soothing music, or nature-type sounds on a CD can also help. Any type of relaxing activities done with lowered lights can help ease the transition between wakefulness and sleepiness.
12. Use Sleep Medication as a last resort
Sleep medication can be addictive and taking sleep medication for more than 2 weeks is generally not advised. See your General Practitioner for more information about this type of medication.
So, by developing a good bedtime routine, creating a better sleep environment for your bedroom, managing your stress and worries, following a sleep schedule, and taking better care of your body all help in achieving quality rest every night. Good night
– Hanan Dover
Forensic Psychologist MAPS