How do you fall asleep fast?
Going to sleep may sound like a simple business, but for many people getting a good night’s sleep or even falling asleep can be quite a task. Some habits can help you sleep better; however, if you have been sleepless for days, you may need medical help as it might be a complex sleep disorder.
Avoid the following to sleep better:
- Caffeine (coffee, dark tea, soda, energy drinks, and other caffeine-containing beverages)
- Nicotine (cigarettes and chewing tobacco)
- Heavy dinner that’s rich in fats and spices
To fall asleep faster
- Practice a regular schedule: Follow a ritual of going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time every day. It helps you fall asleep faster and better.
- Make yourself relaxed before bedtime: Remember that sleep is a normal biological process and you don’t need to stress yourself by being anxious about falling asleep. Make yourself calm by doing yoga or meditation, taking a warm shower, or listening to soothing music. Whatever relaxes you, make it a part of your bedtime ritual.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine before bedtime.
- Avoid exercising right before bedtime.
- Turn off all screens: Do not use a mobile phone, laptops or watch TV while you are in bed.
- Do not force yourself to sleep: If despite the above-mentioned habits, you find yourself awake for more than 10 minutes in bed, get out of bed, and sit in a chair until you are sleepy. Do not stress out or be upset about not being able to fall asleep.
- Make your bedroom a sleep-friendly place: Make your bedroom a relaxing place by accessorizing it with things that relax you. You may use weighted blankets or comforters, essential oil diffusers, soft music, and dim lighting.
- Wear clean and comfortable clothes before going to bed.
- Avoid naps if possible: While napping is a way to make up for lost sleep, taking naps decreases the amount of sleep one needs the next night. This may cause sleep fragmentation and difficulty falling asleep.
What foods make you sleepy?
Consuming certain foods and beverages can help you fall asleep faster. Foods and drinks that will help you get a restful sleep at night include:
- Foods rich in tryptophan: Tryptophan is a natural sleep-promoting substance. Tryptophan rich foods include milk, bananas, nuts, honey, chicken, turkey, and eggs.
- Complex carbs: Whole grains, in contrast with refined foods, help you sleep faster and better. Recommended bedtime snacks include popcorn, oatmeal or whole wheat crackers. To enhance the taste, add some nut butter to these snacks.
- Fish: Fish is rich in vitamin B6. The vitamin makes melatonin in the body which is triggered by being in the dark. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate the sleep/wake cycle.
- A handful of nuts: Apart from being rich in healthy fats, nuts like almonds and walnuts contain melatonin. Eating them can help you sleep more soundly.
- Kale: This leafy green is high in calcium and puts the sleep hormones at work to ensure you enjoy a good slumber.
- Honey in warm beverages: Add some honey to warm beverages like chamomile or peppermint tea, or just plain warm water. The concoction relaxes your mind. Honey lowers the level of orexin, a chemical found in the body that makes you more alert and facilitates falling asleep.
- Fruits: Fruits like tart cherries, bananas, pineapple, and oranges reduce the oxidative stress in the body and give a boost to your sleep hormones making you sleep faster and wake up less frequently at night. Having two kiwis before bed has been found to increase the sleep duration by an hour over a month, in people who chronically suffer from a lack of sleep.
How many hours of sleep are enough?
The amount of sleep needed depends on many factors, one of which is the person’s age. The generally recommended hours of sleep are:
- Infants (ages zero to three months): 14 to17 hours a day.
- Infants (ages four to 11 months): 12 to 15 hours a day.
- Toddlers (ages one to two years): 11 to 14 hours a day.
- Pre-school children (ages three to five years): 10 to 13 hours a day.
- School-age children (ages six to 13 years): nine to 11 hours a day.
- Teenagers (ages 14 to 17 years): eight to 10 hours each day.
- Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a day.
- Older adults (ages 65 and above) need seven to eight hours of sleep each day.
- Women in the first three months of pregnancy often need more hours of sleep than usual.
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Sleep Disorders (How to Get a Good Night's Sleep)A number of vital tasks carried out during sleep help maintain good health and enable people to function at their best. Sleep needs vary from individual to individual and change throughout your life. The National Institutes of Health recommend about 7-9 hours of sleep each night for older, school-aged children, teens, and most average adults; 10-12 for preschool-aged children; and 16-18 hours for newborns. There are two stages of sleep; 1) REM sleep (rapid-eye movement), and 2) NREM sleep (non-rapid-eye movement). The side effects of lack of sleep or insomnia include:
- Feeling sleepy during the day
- Concentration or memory problems
Lack of sleep and insomnia can be caused by medical conditions or diseases, medications, stress, or pain. The treatment for lack of sleep and insomnia depends upon the cause.
Insomnia Treatment (Sleep Aids and Stimulants)
Insomnia is difficulty in falling or staying asleep, the absence of restful sleep, or poor quality of sleep. Insomnia is a symptom and not a disease. The most common causes of insomnia are medications, psychological conditions, environmental changes and stressful events. Treatments may include non-drug treatments, over-the-counter medicines, and/or prescription medications.
Sleep apnea is defined as a reduction or cessation of breathing during sleep. The three types of sleep apnea are central apnea, obstructive apnea (OSA), and a mixture of central and obstructive apnea. Central sleep apnea is caused by a failure of the brain to activate the muscles of breathing during sleep. OSA is caused by the collapse of the airway during sleep. OSA is diagnosed and evaluated through patient history, physical examination and polysomnography. There are many complications related to obstructive sleep apnea. Treatments are surgical and non-surgical.
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