In my college days, I used to stay up late at night with my roommate to finish my assignments and to study for exams.
Gradually, staying up late became our ritual.
We either used our phones, watched a movie, or had random conversations.
However, my habit of staying up late got worse in the last few months of college. I even told her about how I fail to fall asleep until 4 a.m. She suggested that I avoid using the phone for too long before going to bed because it prevents one from falling asleep. I refused to listen to her because I believed that only using my phone could help me to sleep. I either read novels in pdf versions or browsed through YouTube. Due to tiredness, I slept during college hours and missed lectures. I slowly began to turn down my friends’ offers of going outside to eat lunch. When recalling the initial months of college, I realized that I wasn’t so active anymore for fests and college-related work. As it began to get worse, I thought to lessen my nap time in the afternoon. However, it failed to work.
Soon, I started to listen to music and as soon as I felt sleepy, I used to turn it off and go to sleep. My sleeping pattern improved significantly. Earlier, I used to sleep at 4 a.m., which had then reduced down to 2 o’clock. As the days went on, I began to sleep earlier. I have realized now why my friend asked me not to use my phone.
Before I start to elaborate on this aspect, I would like to begin by addressing the necessity of sleep hygiene. But, how do you become aware that you have a poor sleeping pattern? Frequently waking up in the middle of the night, falling asleep late, feeling sleepy in the daytime, getting exhausted, losing temper quickly, etc. are some common signs of poor sleeping habits.
Sleep hygiene is the practice of embracing certain good habits such as avoiding caffeine before sleep, exercising, avoiding cell phones, etc. to have a good night’s sleep. The inculcation of proper and healthy routine is conducive to sleep hygiene.
How does lack of sleep affect your body and why is sleep hygiene necessary?
1. Lack of sleep makes you feel stressed because of which you experience irritability and feel sulky. Sleeping well reduces the overall cortisol level in your body that helps you to handle pressure well with an almost negligent feel of stress.
2. Poor sleep affects your memory power as well. Therefore, sleeping more than 7 hours becomes necessary which helps you to improve your learning memory.
3. Good sleep helps your body to build tissues and re-energize your body for the next day. The feeling of inactiveness usually stems from poor sleep and leads to unproductivity. To fight fatigue, sufficient sleep is a must.
4. When you are sleep deprived, you can have mood swings and become emotional. A night of good sleep can prevent you from being quick-tempered.
5. Lack of concentration and lower creativity skills comes from improper sleep. At certain times, making a decision takes time because of the inability to assess a complex situation. To put your brain to function mindfully, one needs to get proper sleep.
Mental health and sleep follow a circular relationship.
Improper sleep indicates the state of your mental health and vice versa. And therefore, to prevent the lack of sleep to be an obstacle in your daily life, sleep hygiene must be maintained. Good sleep hygiene enables you to have a healthy and sound sleep.
Below are a few tips that will help you to get better sleep:
1. Bedtime routine: Before going to sleep, engage in a few light activities such as reading books, conversing with friends or family, writing down the next day’s to-do list, engaging in skincare, or sitting on a balcony or terrace for some time.
2. Make your bed: To ensure you have a comfortable sleep, dim the lights of your room, and use pillow perfume to have a calm and soothing sleep.
3. Avoid devices: Make sure not to use a laptop, watch TV, or use the phone just before going to bed. Blue light from the devices prevents melatonin secretion that affects the sleep cycle. Therefore, keep away mobile phones at least an hour before going to sleep.
4. Exercise regularly: Physical activity during the day helps one to have a healthy and sound sleep.
5. Make a habit of a specific time: To have a good sleep, try to sleep at the same time every day. Following the same time helps the body to follow a proper cycle and function well during the night to prepare the body for the next day.
6. Avoid Caffeine, alcohol, and large meals: If you wish to consume alcohol or coffee, make sure to consume it 4-5 hours before you sleep. Moreover, try to have a light meal during the night so that your food gets digested quickly.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults to sleep for 7 to 9 hours a day. Researchers of the University of Pennsylvania have found out that people who have 4.5 hours of sleep a week experience exhaustion and feelings of sadness and anger. Poor sleep also indicates the onset or worsening of anxiety and depression. There is a strong relationship between sleep and psychological problems. Even though there is still research going on to study the relationship between depression and sleep disorder, it has been found that people who suffer from depression have an improper sleeping pattern. It is therefore important to address such problems. Try to keep a tab on your sleeping pattern and follow a routine to get proper sleep. However, if the problem continues, you can always opt for medical assistance.
Written by - Rhea Choudhury
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