Sleep is a natural-occurring state in which the consciousness and the muscular activity are temporarily suspended. For millennia, sleep has been one of the major subjects of enquiry. The ancient Egyptians and the Chinese were greatly involved in understanding the mechanism of sleep. The mechanism of sleep remained mysterious for a long period of time until the advances of the mid-20th century.
The very old Egyptians derived the remedy for sleep by combining poppy and wine whereas the Chinese of the same period contradicted the remedy for sleep to be the time of the day and duration spent staying awake.
Though the research on sleep has advanced greatly, there are people who still believe and value the usage of Valerian root, tart cherry juice, and bananas in improving sleep. In fact most patients suffering from insomnia their first port of call is to buy melatonin from the drug store.
Today, sleep research comprises diverse areas like narcolepsy research, sleep and cardio-respiratory research, circadian rhythms, shift work and its effects on sleep, sleep and aging, and infant sleep. Let us discuss some of the things that aid in improving sleep.
Maintaining a Scheduled Sleep
Scheduling the time of going to sleep and waking up from sleep is necessary to avail the benefits of sleeping. Regularization of sleep helps the poor sleepers to a great extent and also helps in increasing their certainty and uniformity in sleep patterns. It is constructive even for those who stay awake all night like the owls and those who wake up early in the morning like the larks.
This scheduled sleeping pattern necessarily needs to be maintained even on weekends, holidays, and days off. It regularizes the sleep-wake cycle and helps promote better sleep all night. Messing up the schedule would lead in messing up with the sleeping pattern and its effect on the individual.
Today, the late working hours and spending maximum time on the computer screen have become the main reasons for the changes in the sleeping pattern. Paying attention to the social clock rather than the psychological clock has grown quite common among the people. And this has resulted in a greater sleep gap referred to as ‘Social Jet Lag’. This ‘social jet lag’ is the mismatch in the timings of waking up. The dependency on the alarm clock for waking up during weekdays and the independence of waking up during weekends and other off-days is the correct case of social jet lag.
Maintaining a Proper Physical Regime
Being physically active impacts the quality of sleep to a great extent. Exercising too much would lead to the straining of muscles. The body requires an appropriate level of exercise to gain sound sleep. Late night exercise is not advisable and it is mandated to stay relaxed at least four hours before hitting the bed.
Staying composed or relaxed is essential for better sleep. Getting involved in activities that do not demand great attention, such as reading books, knitting and sketching are always recommended.
Switching over to the appropriate activity mode needs a lot of experimenting and observation but then if health is in the picture, it is worth attempting.