well it has been long since I wrote something related to mental health, I like anyone else am not immune to procrastination, anyway, finally, I could motivate myself enough to write,
without beating around the bush much, let me get to the point here
she was 14 years old,childhood sexual abuse ,positive family history of neurosis,trying to win the rat race took a toll on her mental health,manifesting in the form of long long nights which seemed never ending,the frustration of watching other people sleep peacefully was something noone else could ever decipher,
12th standard board exams ,dreadful most physics paper,pcos,and an ambition to become a doctor ,became too much for her to take,11 pm she went to bed,her mother brother and dog sleeping in the same room,she shut her eyes tight,physics questions moving in her head,motion momentum etc etc,her heart racing faster,she needs to sleep she thought to herself,oh what if she doesnt sleep the whole night,her performance will get hampered ,she will not score marks,she will not do well,she needs to sleep anyhow she thought to herself,she could hear her doggie snore,it was 12 am now,she had to wake up at 7 am to revise one last time,7 hrs of sleep ,good enough she thought,her mother woke up ,and exclaimed “u are still up,sleep now”and this increased her apprehension,oh i really need to sleep she thought to herself,her heart pounding ,she couldn’t lie down now,got up paced around in the other room,took her book out and started reading,she could not focus ,but did not give in,kept reading,1:30 am ,2:00 am and she was wide awake,went back to her room,chanted some mantras,but no her sleep had a mind of her own tonight,was playing hide and seek ,never to be found,she shut her eyes again,just like this she struggled till it was 5 and when she has lost all hope she fell asleep to wake up at 7 with a headache,took the exam…
One of the most significant human behavior,universally demonstrated in all animal species is sleep,it is something that is required by the brain to function.also, one the vegetative functions,very commonly affected in almost every mental illness,sleep is something we dont pay much importance to,whether the sleep disturbance is singularly present or associated with other symptoms,sleep hygiene is something that has been found to be helpful in maintaining regular sleep pattern.
hygiene is something that we have heard very frequently during this pandemic
hygiene can be defined as conditions or practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease, so sleep hygiene practices help maintain healthy sleep patterns.ill be mentioning a few points for sleep hygiene:
dos and donts for good sleep hygiene:
- maintaining regular hours of bedtime and rising:sticking to a consistent sleep schedule is very important when it comes to sleep hygiene and cannot be emphasised enough. okay so talking in terms of the current pandemic situation keeping any kind of schedule is hard undoubtedly,still if you figure a way to maintain a regular timing for sleep ,it can pay major dividends for your health,the principle behind this theory being the circardian rhythm.it’s best to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This allows your brain to predict behavior and cue your body to wind-down or wake-up.
2. maintain a night time routine
creating a winding up routine before sleeping helps the body get habituated to and signals the brain that it is about to go into the sleep mode soon.winding up routine can ideally be started atleast an hour before the desired time of sleep,atleast 1 hour before sleeping one should try to shut out all other work.
3.Create a sleep sanctuary
- Your bedroom should be a sleep sanctuary! Soft lighting, quiet, and cozy. When the bedroom is devoid of visual and audio stimulants it allows our bodies to restore and refresh for the next day.Basically conducive to sleep,neither very hot nor too cold,comfortable bed and free from disturbing/stimulating sound,light or smell
4.use your bed exclusively for sleep and sex only:
- again about giving clues to the brain and making it used to the same,if one carries work or entertainment or anything else other than sleeping on the bed,our brain doesnt get the clue that going in your bedroom or bed is equal to sleep,why confuse our brains right.
5. tire your body:
- being physically active,and exercise helps you sleep better,but scheduling exercise earlier in the day atleast 3 hours prior to the sleep time,tires the body and helps in sleeping better.
6 .go to bed only when very tired and sleepy:
- to avoid tossing and turning in bed and avoiding the frustration of not being able to sleep.If after 20 or so minutes of laying in bed you do not fall asleep, you should get up do something calm or even boring. You don’t want to lay in bed awake for extended periods of time since this sets up an association of feeling angry, frustrated and depressed while laying in bed. You do not want negative feelings, associations or thoughts while in bed. Try sitting quietly in another room wit the lights off (bright light incorrectly tell your brain that it is time to be awake), or read something boring like the phone book (school books always work well for me). You want to avoid doing anything that is too stimulating or interesting, since this will wake you up even more. When you feel sleepy again, go back to bed and try again.
7. sleep journal :
- Documenting behaviors and habits by use of a sleep diary or sleep log can be useful to visualize what’s happening and how it influences you. As a sleep physician, I often use a sleep diary to track patients progress and adherence to sleep hygiene rules. Patients are often shocked when comparing their initial patterns to weeks to months later and seeing the dramatic difference and improvement.
1.use phones and tablets in bedroom:
- light from the phones interfere with the release of melatonin,which a sleep inducing hormone.It’s tempting to check emails or social media before we go to bed but this is a horrible habit to get into. This often gets our brain into task mode and the blue light from electronic screens can affect our ability to fall asleep.
2.take caffiene after the sunset:
- Caffeine can have a disruptive effect on your sleep. The most obvious effect of the stimulant is that it can make it hard for you to fall asleep. One study also found that caffeine can delay the timing of your body clock. These effects will reduce your total sleep time. caffeine is present in tea,coffee,cola,red bull etc.
3.Take alcohol and tobacco :
- Anyone who drinks alcohol from time to time knows that beer, wine, or spirits can sometimes leave you feeling drowsy. But while alcohol, a depressant, can help you fall asleep faster, it also contributes to poor quality sleep later,so paradoxically alcohol is harmful for sleep structure.
- Nicotine disrupts sleep – and smoking can also raise the risk of developing sleep conditions, such as sleep apnea. if you are consuming both of these avoid taking them late in the day atleast.
4.taking afternoon naps :
Naps can be an effective tool in giving us a boost for that second half of the day, but they shouldn’t be used too close to bedtime or last longer than 20-30 minutes.
5. eat heavy meals:
- Avoid heavy and spicy foods at dinner. Gas-forming foods and hurried eating also cause abdominal discomfort, which in turn interferes with sound sleep. Limit your intake of gas-forming foods to the morning hours, and thoroughly chew food to avoid gulping air.
6.watching the clock:
- This also sets up a negative feeling of “oh no I only have X hours of sleep left” or “I can’t believe it’s 2 am and I’m still awake”. These obsessive and negative thoughts only contribute to your insomnia. Have an alarm set for the desired rise time and unless you hear the alarm go off, it doesn’t matter what time it is; it’s sleep time!
Apart from all this yoga,meditation and other relaxation techniques like the jacobsons progressive muscle relaxation helps in inducing and maintaining good quality sleep…
I am attaching two videos one a musical piece i love and has helped me sleep many times,another the technique i.e. jacobsons progressive muscle relaxation
Please note:Having mentioned sleep hygiene,I would like to emphasize that sleep disturbance can be a symptom of primarily other psychiatric illnesses also,so self diagnosis and medication may lead to implications in the quality of life,for which, seeking professional help is the only thing recommended.
i hope this helps ,feedback is most welcome.
Until next time Goodbye and take care readers,you can get in touch with me through my Instagram page