Exercise and Mental Health

Since past few days, I’m having trouble falling asleep and even when I do manage to fall asleep, I wake up several times during the night. What shall I do?

Sleep is a non-negotiable biological necessity and healthy adults need 6-8 hours of sleep per night to function at their best. During stressful times like the current lockdown/ work-from-home situation due to coronavirus, there is a disruption to our daily routine including sleep. We are spending more time indoors, and the lack of exposure to sunlight affects melatonin levels in our body which in turn causes poor sleep. Maintaining a good routine, managing stress & anxiety levels and following proper sleep hygiene is essential for sound sleep.

Some practical tips to maintain good sleep hygiene

Regularize your schedule - Maintain a good eat-sleep-wake schedule – pick mealtimes, a bed-time and wake-up time and stick to them as much as possible – this will help set your body’s biological clock.

Avoid worrying over how much sleep you will get – Constantly thinking “I may not sleep today” or “Why am I still awake” only makes things worse.

Deal with your worries- Devise tentative solutions, and learn to de-stress yourself before bedtime. Instead of letting anxiety build-up and keeping you from sleeping, write your worries down in a book or diary and tell yourself that you will deal with them tomorrow. Now your mind is ready to relax and let go.

Do not push yourself to fall asleep - A healthy bedtime routine starting 30 minutes before bedtime allows your body and mind to slow down. Start by turning off the TV and putting your cell phone and laptop away. Play some quiet music, read a book, practise meditation or try a boring and repetitive activity.

Avoid Working in Bed -Most of us are working from home these days, and the temptation to work from the bed is great. If you’re in the habit of working from bed, it can become more difficult to fall asleep because your brain will think you are in a place of work. Your mind needs to know that if you are in bed, you are there to sleep. So as much as possible, keep TVs, laptops and cell phones away from your bedroom.

Regular Physical activities - Engage in regular exercise or any kind of rigorous physical activities for at least 30 minutes to one hour, four to five times a week.

Don't consume caffeine late in the day- Caffeine (found in tea, coffee, cola drinks) is a stimulant that makes you alert and keeps you awake.

Avoid heavy meals before bedtime - A heavy meal will burden your digestive system and can cause bloating, acidity and heartburn, making you uncomfortable and unable to get your sleep. It is better to have a light dinner, preferably a couple of hours before bedtime.

If your problems persist and you continue to have difficulties with your sleep, please seek professional help on our toll-free number 800 MINDS (800 64637).

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