sleep

Sleep Difficulty

Did you know that one third of our time is spent sleeping? A quality sleep is as essential as any other basic need such as food and water. Without sleep we cannot function physically and mentally properly. Sleep difficulty is a result of trouble falling or maintaining sleep. For some people, it may be difficult to sleep continuously and end up waking up several times at night. Some people may find themselves sleeping more than required. Few signs of sleep difficulty are lack of focus, frequent headaches, irritability, daytime fatigue, waking up in the middle of the night or too early abruptly and taking a lot of time to fall asleep. Sleep difficulty may arise due to stress, worry, depression, poor sleep hygiene or changes in work schedules such as night shifts. Other causes may involve sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea.

Depending on the cause of sleep difficulty, treatment will vary. However, you can try simple techniques to improve your quality of sleep.

Sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene are the habits, rituals, behaviours one follows in order to regulate sleep. If you are experiencing difficulties in sleeping, you can make slight changes in your lifestyle such as following your sleep cycle i.e. sleeping at a fixed time and waking up at a fixed time until the body gets used to the schedule. Avoid consumption of alcohol, cigarettes and drugs and curb caffeine intake. Relax your body and mind by doing some basic stretching exercise or meditation before going to bed. Do not engage in mental activities such as working on pending assignments or browse social media on phone right before going to bed. Keep a gap of minimum 10 to 15 minutes between gadget use and going to sleep. Other than this check your bed whether it is comfortable to sleep and dim lights before going to bed. You may also apply lavender oil on head since research says that lavender helps in relaxing the body and induce sleep.

4-7-8 breathing

4-7-8 breathing is a type of deep breathing exercise. It helps in relaxing tensed muscles, calming worried thoughts and slowing down heart rate which helps one fall asleep. Here, you need to sit in a comfortable position with eyes closed. Once you are ready, start to slowly inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 7 seconds and later exhale through your mouth slowly for 8 seconds. Do this in a slow motion and feel how your body relaxes. After you have exhaled, take a moment and then open your eyes. This is one count. You can repeat this technique 4 times before going to bed.

Guided imagery and visualization

Guided imagery and visualization are a method of relaxation. Here, one uses imagination to think of positive images thus, reducing the stress, relaxing and thus leading to a better sleep. In order to practice, visual imagery you should find a comfortable place and sit with closed eyes. Make sure that you are not disturbed. Once you are ready, imagine being at a relaxing place such as a beach and continue to imagine all the aspects of a beach like the gritty sand, salty smell, soothing air, blueness of the sea etc. You can stay with the imagined scene for 5 to 10 minutes or until you feel relaxed. Once you are calm, take a moment and then slowly open your eyes.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a meditation technique which is known to help people feel relaxed. Mindfulness is believed to improve sleep by increasing mental focus, awareness of thoughts and reducing stress. Here, a focal point is needed, for instance: Breath. After sitting comfortably, and focus on inhaling and exhaling. Later, you can focus on different sensations of the body as you inhale and exhale such as the air going through your throat, pumping of the chest or movement of the abdomen.

The above mentioned techniques may help you to improve your sleep. In case you wish to know further and consult a professional help, you can by booking a session through the PinkyMind app.

Reference:
Borreli, L. (2015). A life hack for sleep: The 4-7-8 breathing exercise will supposedly put you to sleep in just 60 seconds. Retrieved from https://www.medicaldaily.com/life-hack-sleep-4-7-8-breathing-exercise-will-supposedly-put-you-sleep-just-60-332122
Cline, J. (2009). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for insomnia part 1. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/sleepless-in-america/200905/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-insomnia-part-1
Cline, J. (2014). Mindful sleep. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleepless-in-america/201401/mindful-sleep
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for sleep (2017). Retrieved from https://www.tuck.com/cbt-insomnia/
Visualization and guided imagery techniques for stress reduction. Retrieved from https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/visualization-and-guided-imagery-techniques-for-stress-reduction/
Walker, T. (2016). What causes sleep difficulty?. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/symptom/difficulty-sleeping