Sleep is a body function, which is essential for physical and mental health.
Chronic pain is often associated with sleep disturbances.
While it is tempting to take a sleep aid pill, these medications pose risks and problems.
Sleep is divided into phases, which cycle throughout the sleep duration. Rapid eye movement sleeps (REMS) and non-rapid eye movement sleeps (NRMS). NRMS is generally the deepest part of the sleep which allows body, muscles and brain to rest completely and refreshes the mind and body for the following days’ work.
All sleep aids, reduce the duration of the deepest part of the sleep, and hence one may be able to fall asleep but may not wake up completely rested.
In addition, a recent study have shown that people who take sleep aids on regular basis, they die early compared to those who don’t.
So it is essential to try to develop habits and rituals that induce and promote a night of healthy restful sleep.
Following are the steps, if followed on regular basis, will help you to fall asleep without taking the sleep pills.
- It is essential to remove all equipment, gadgets from the bedroom. The most common culprit is the TV, computer, etc.
- Your bedroom must be used only for sleep. Bedroom environment should be maintained quiet, dark and 1-2 degrees colder than the other rooms, for a comfortable sleep.
- Avoid doing any activity which may stimulate your brain. I.e. watching TV, working on the computer, PlayStation etc. These gadgets emit bright light which induces a release of hormone inside the body which interferes with sleep.
- Try to do activities which contribute to sleep i.e. reading a book, or some other relaxing similar hobby.
- Exercise regularly, but not within 4 hours prior to your sleep times.
- Do not eat any heavy meals, for at least 2 hours prior to sleep time.
- Go to your bedroom only when you are tired.
- When lying down on your bed, take 4-6 deep abdominal breaths. This helps you in calming down your mind. (Slowly breath in and expand your belly outwards, pretending that all the air that you inhale is entering your belly).
- If you are unable to fall asleep within 15-20 minutes, leave your bed and go back to your living room. DO NOT WATCH TV. Read a good book till you tired and then go back to your bedroom and repeat the same steps, ( Close your eyes, imagine yourselves at some relaxing place and perform abdominal breathing as you try to relax).
Above steps called sleep hygiene, need some patience and is a learned behavior (that you learn by keep doing the same thing again and again).