"God, I cant wait to sleep. Today was exhausting. Oh damn, I forgot to call mom back. Shall I ring her now? No, will do so tomorrow. But I've got so much work piled up. Have to check my mails in the morning, make the kids lunch (stop buzzing brain, stop)... I forgot to pick up milk from the store! There we go, another chore. Wait, why in the world am I thinking about groceries?" And so the internal chit-chat continues till 3-4 a.m. whirling through ideas, apprehensions, fantasies, commitments and to-do-lists. If only we could slip into slumber as soon as our head hits the pillow!
Does going to bed feel like a nightmare? Do you lie awake all night staring at the ceiling, tossing and turning? You must have done all the obvious stuff - slurp on a warm cup of milk, cut out late night caffeine, rubbed your belly even resorted to a double dose of Benadryl or a few pills of melatonin. And here you are, in the wee hours of the morning, still in dire need of tips and tricks to ease yourself into dreamland.
Nutritionist Anshul Jaibharat suggests, "Pumpkin seeds or tart cherry juice give you the necessary dose of tryptophan and melatonin. Even kiwi helps regulate the body clock, providing good quality sleep."
So give your box of chamomile some rest, and follow our unconventional ways to stop counting sheep. Want to claim the best sleep ever? Step this way please.
DO: spritz lavender on your pillow. The fragrance calms your nerves and quietens your mind in just a few minutes.
DON'T: brush your teeth just before sleeping. The scent of peppermint alerts you, making you feel more awake.
2. Say No
DO: follow the sleep paradox. Keeping your eyes wide open and telling yourself "I will not sleep" may actually have you dozing off before you know it. This is because the brain doesn't accept negatives well.
DON'T: drink alcohol before bed. Thought sipping on some wine can help you unwind? Think again! Yes, it makes you drowsy but actually results in disrupted sleep.
3. Trick the Brain
DO: wear sunglasses. Trick your brain into thinking its bedtime by putting on a pair of shades in the evening.
DON'T: read a thrilling novel. Boring books or magazines are better instead, as they help the brain sleep faster.
4. Relax Mode On
DO: roll your eyes in the back of your head so as to relax the eye muscles and trigger melatonin naturally.
DON'T: exercise within 3 hours before bedtime. The adrenaline will keep you up.
5. Early to Bed
DO: keep a sleep journal. Venting on paper before going to bed actually helps declutter your mind instead of dwelling in the days activities or worrying about tomorrows workload.
DON'T: go to bed hungry, else you'll be thinking of that big bag of chips sitting in your kitchen cabinet all night long.
6. Lights Out
DO: position your pillow under your neck in order to press against your carotid artery, thereby reducing blood flow to your brain and helping you fall asleep faster.
DON'T: use electronics 90 minutes before bed. Completely unplug and switch off all devices. Try to block the light from your alarm clock too, since light alerts the body's circadian clock.
7. On the Count
DO: curl your toes for a count of 7 and then relax. Repeat for a few minutes and reap the benefits.
DON'T: get into bed until you actually feel sleepy. As soon as you start feeling tense, go into another room until you start getting sleepy again. This helps condition your brain to associate the bed with sleeping and nothing else.
Dr. Adarsh Kumar, Internal Medicine, National Heart Institute says, "Poor sleep takes a toll on everything, from your job performance to your daily chores. So ask yourself this - are you practicing good sleep hygiene? Make your bed your haven, do nothing but sleep there. Whether you get adequate sleep at night or not, go to bed at the same time everyday. If you don't succeed, bring in sleep with shav assan, and meditate for a few minutes."
"You have to do a one-hour wind down before; draw yourself a hot bath, slip into some clean and comfortable clothes, and use quality bedding. Too tired to shower? Just wash your feet and massage them, it usually does the trick!" he added.