Sleep is the greatest legal performance enhancing drug that most people are probably neglecting. - Matthew Walker, Author 'Why we sleep'
Sleep is one of those things that we don't appreciate fully until somehow it becomes elusive.
I have struggled with sleep for a while. It started 3 years ago when I was working long hours on laptops. I ignored it until I just couldn't. On the nights that I couldn't sleep properly, which were quite often, the next day I would have headache and wouldn't have the energy to do anything. Over some time it started to have significant physiological effects. Not getting enough sleep induces stress, stress aggravates sleeplessness; it's a vicious cycle.
I decided to learn more about it and seek professional help. I made a few changes and thankfully, I am getting 8 hours of good sleep every day now. I feel a lot better now so much so that I decided to share about it.
Here's what helped me, in order of their effectiveness, most effective first.
Consistent sleeping routine
Try to sleep at the same time every day. This is the single most effective habit you can inculcate to improve sleep quality.
Eating 2-3 hours before sleep
Eat at least 2 hours before your sleeping time. Also, eat less.
Get your vitamin D and Magnesium levels checked
About a billion people are deficient in vitamin D worldwide. Vitamin D is directly related to the quality of sleep. The other mineral that seems to have a direct effect on sleep is Magnesium. Magnesium promotes relaxation and sleep by maintaining good levels of GABA. Improving vitamin D levels via oral supplementation and taking a couple of Magnesium Glycinate tablets each day has helped me a lot.
Exercise in itself does plenty of good to your body. Physically exhausting yourself by the end of the day is a great way to make sure that you fall asleep quickly.
Reducing screen time
Stop using screens at least an hour before your sleeping time. I have found that the quality of my sleep is inversely proportional to the time I spend looking at digital screens.
Start doing meditation and journaling if you are not doing already.
No matter what you do, get 8 hours of sleep every night.