The world has been brought into uncharted waters with the current pandemics and conflicts. While whole countries are still on post lockdown depression, the economy is at a standstill, and many people are afraid for themselves and their loved ones, it’s understandable that the importance of sleep is under everyone’s radar.
While the world adjusts to stay-at-home routines and staying healthy, focusing on sleeping well offers tremendous value.
With the pandemic creating new challenges, even for people who previously had no sleeping issues, restful sleep, now more than ever, is one of the most important pillars for our mental and physical well-being. Night rest is directly linked to the immune system, and having a good pattern and quality of sleep helps our immune system to rebuild and work in the background, supporting overall well-being. If we look back to our teenage years, we remember the cases in which we went out to parties every night till suddenly our body gave up and crushed down sick with cold or flu. All that happens because we do not give the body the needed rest to rejuvenate, recuperate, and activate all its life-maintaining functions. It has been proven scientifically that low quality of sleep impacts our mood, ability to focus, productivity, and positive outlook on life.
What is the time needed for a good sleep?
The amount of sleep time in hours necessary for an adult or teenager varies as per the table below ( source: Sleepfoundation.org ). For a newborn between 0 to 3 months, an average of 14 to 17 hours of sleep is needed; for a teenager, time varies between 8 -10 hours; for an adult, up to 65 years old, about 7 – 9 hours and above 65 years old minimum of 7 -8 hours of rest is required.
|Recommended Hours of Sleep
|0-3 months old
|4-11 months old
|1-2 years old
|3-5 years old
|6-13 years old
|14-17 years old
|18-25 years old
|26-64 years old
|65 or more years old
Essential tips on a powerful sleep ritual
To have the best quality of sleep, we must consider building and maintaining a powerful sleep well routine and hygiene daily before bed.
Good sleep hygiene is all about creating the right environment and habits to improve sleep quality and promote well-being.
Optimizing your sleep schedule, pre-bed rituals, and daily routines makes sleep more automatic. At the same time, creating a tranquil bedroom environment is an invitation to relax and doze off much quicker.
The tips below can help in each of these areas however, these are not rigid requirements, and everyone can adapt them to fit living and environmental circumstances and create a tailored sleep hygiene checklist to help get the best sleep possible.
1. Having your last meal a minimum of 2 hours before bedtime will help you digest it fully and have a restful sleep. Usually, you need 2 to 4 hours for complete digestion to happen, and going to bed with a full tummy will only cause you to have difficulty sleeping.
2. Reduce the intake of liquids before going to bed to one glass of water or herbal tea not later than an hour before your sleep so your sleep is not disturbed during the night by bathroom visits.
3. Keep your bedroom fresh and decluttered with a minimalistic design, and ensure the air quality is always good before bed by opening the window an hour before. If you live in a very hot country like the UAE, for example, ensure that you lower the temperature in your bedroom at least 2 hours before bedtime to help you be more relaxed during your sleep.
4. If you have any thoughts on what to do for the next day or week, start journaling into a notebook or diary, helping your mind declutter.
5. You love napping? That is alright as long as your nap is not later than 3:00 p.m. and no longer than 20 minutes; otherwise, you will only be able to doze off very late and feel tired on the following day.
6. Do not take your mobile or electronic devices into your bed, and cease taking your phone with you as that keeps your mind active and alert.
7. Some people like to take a hot shower, and for some, a cold one just before bed. Do whatever feels best for you. Implementing a water cleanse with sea salt scrub is often described as a powerful detoxifying and restful treatment.
8. When preparing yourself to chill, implement essential oils therapy, using lavender or ylang-ylang oils as a pillow or body mist to help cultivate harmonious and soothing surroundings.
9. The colour of your bedding is crucial for creating a serene vibe in your nap space. Best for that purpose are the colours of light and dark blue, purple or lilac colours. If the bedding is not in these colours, at least have a lovely painting on the wall, decorations, rugs or pillows in these nuances to ease and set the eye and mind at peace.
10. If you have to work and sleep in the same room, as it happens a lot now during the pandemic when we share spaces, assign a distinguished space for study, work and relaxation and create a routine around them. For example, have your couch and desk for work, creativity, and bed only to sleep and avoid using those for any other activities. If you fail to do that, your mind will play a reverse role and start working while in bed and drowsing when you are on the couch.
11. A substantial recommendation is to move your body as often as you can during the day, and if you have to work from home, take a 15 -20 minutes break daily to do some stretching or go for a walk to associate with nature that will allow more oxygen and rejuvenation for your body and mind.
Allow yourself time for self-care every night before bed; you will see how rapidly your sleep quality will improve. The mind will quickly follow once the body leans into getting ready to rest.
Powerful relaxation technique for a peaceful sleep
As a bonus I would like to take you on a sleep-well journey through a beautiful relaxation technique that can be used every time by difficulties with your rest.
1. Choose a quiet and comfortable environment with no disturbance while exercising. This technique will allow you to calm your breath, slow your heart rate and activate the parasympathetic system to enable complete relaxation. At the same time, lying or sitting comfortably, breathe in for four counts and slowly breathe out for eight counts. Repeat this cycle for 10 – 15 rounds to allow the parasympathetic system to be activated and promote an overall sensation of peace and serenity in your body.
2. Place your hands on the top of your belly or beside your hips. Breathe in, then out, and focus your attention on your breath. Focus on your hands and explore your sensations – some people feel tingling or numbness; once you are there, stay present on your hands.
3. Being focused on your hands, say loudly or in your mind: “ My hands are warm and heavy.” Here, it doesn’t matter if you feel them indeed warm or heavy, is essential to focus on your palms and repeat the statement. You can imagine you run them through some warm surface or stroll through warm water and repeat, “My hands are heavy and warm.”
4. Further imagine you hold or have something over your hands, perhaps a pillow or a weighted blanket, and lie and say: “ My hands feel comfortably heavy.” Allow that feeling to run over your hands and repeat the statement: “ My hands are comfortably heavy.” Do not be concerned with how quickly your hands will get heavy or warm, as that’s not essential but stay focused and present.
5. Next, focus on your feet to say: “ My feet are warm and heavy”. Again, it doesn’t matter how soon your feet feel warm and heavy; just focus and repeat the statement. If other thoughts come along, welcome them, acknowledge them, and return with your attention to your feet being warm and heavy.
6. Afterwards, bring your awareness to your shoulders and down to each hand and foot individually and repeat: “My right arm feels warm and heavy; my left leg feels warm and heavy. My right leg feels warm and heavy. My left arm is warm and heavy. “
7. Later, focus on the lower half of your body and repeat: “ My lower half feels warm and heavy.” Remember, it doesn’t matter how quick or fast your lower half gets warm or heavy just keep your focus and keep repeating the statement as a mantra: “My lower half is warm and heavy. “
8. Further focus your attention on your upper half of the body: “My upper half of the body is warm and heavy.“
9. Subsequently, shift your attention to your breath and heart rate and say: “ My breath is deep and even. My heartbeat is strong and steady. “
10. To conclude, bring your awareness to your head and forehead and say: “My body is incredible and floating “, and relax into the overall sensation of peace and quietness.
From the moment you start implementing this technique, sooner rather than later, perhaps after a week, you will start automatically focusing your attention on your hands, subsequently doing the full body relaxation journey as soon as you rest. This will allow your
Getting more sleep is a key to your better health, performance and mood, but remember that it’s not just about sleep quantity. It is often possible to get the hours you need but not feel refreshed because your sleep is fragmented or non-restorative. Fortunately, improving sleep hygiene often boosts both the quantity and quality of your sleep. People whose sleep is frequently interrupted or cut short might not get enough of certain stages of sleep. How well rested and recharged you are during the day depends on the total sleep time and how many sleep stages you get during the night.
As per the American Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/sleep-health ), not getting enough sleep regularly increases the risk of having high blood pressure, heart disease, and other medical conditions. In addition, during sleep, your body produces valuable hormones. During a deep sleep, your body releases a growth hormone that boosts muscle mass and the repair of cells and tissues in children and adults. As mentioned above, another type of hormone is produced during sleep to help the immune system fight various infections. This is why you experienced a good night’s sleep. It keeps you from getting sick and enables you to recover when you do get sick. The hormones released during sleep also control the body’s use of energy. Studies find that the less people sleep, the more likely they are to be overweight or obese, to develop diabetes, and to prefer eating foods that are high in calories and carbohydrates.
Sleep is an essential function that allows your body and mind to recharge, leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up and have a fantastic energy-driven, high-productive and happy day.