Sleeping has become one of the most ignored aspects of our modern life. Remember the 1984 movie ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’, in which teenagers had to forgo sleep to stay alive? Throughout that movie, I was thinking about how we understand the importance of sleep only when we are forced to stay awake for days. That movie, more than anything, made me realize the importance of a good night’s sleep, and how it is one of the most underrated pleasures of life.
Why is it important to sleep? Of course, it helps you feel rested each day. But while you are fast asleep, your brain and body don’t just shut down. Your internal organs and processes are hard at work throughout the night. Sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness, and mood. Experts also opine that loss of sleep impairs your levels of reasoning, attention to detail, and problem-solving skills.
Why is sleep Important?
A good night’s sleep is vital to our physical and mental health and emotional well being. If your body does not get enough sleep, it might react by producing an elevated level of stress hormones. Stress has become an integral part of the contemporary fast-paced lifestyle. A good night’s sleep can help prevent it. Sleep also improves your digestion & memory because it gives your body a chance to rest and your brain an opportunity to process, organize, and store memories. Sleep also helps to lower your blood pressure, and while you are sleeping, your body produces extra protein molecules that strengthen your ability to fight infections.
Side Effects of Less Sleep
Well, if you spend your nights tossing and turning, in most probability you will feel like two of the seven dwarves- Grumpy and Sleepy- throughout the day. Now that’s not a good state to be in! We all have trouble sleeping from time to time but if insomnia persists day after day, it becomes a real problem. Lack of sleep not only makes us grumpy, tired, and moody but also increases our propensity for obesity, heart disease, disruption of hormones and type 2 diabetes.
If you are facing troubles falling asleep do not turn to sleep medications in search of more restful slumber. There are other non-addictive and healthier ways to get that sleep you’ve been craving for.
Herbs to make you sleep better
Nature has blessed us with abundant herbs that would help you sleep better; hence you don’t need to resort to medications just yet.
Chamomile For Sleep
- Chamomile plant is known for its benefits related to sleep. Chamomile is a herb that comes from the daisy-like flowers of the Asteraceae plant family and has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for several health conditions.
- Chamomile tea is widely regarded as a mild tranquillizer or sleep inducer. A cup of tea infused with the chamomile herb does wonders for your mind and body.
Sarpagandha for Sleep
- Sarpagandha is a herb known for its tranquillizing properties. It also controls hypertension and aids in the treatment of paranoia and schizophrenia. You can use Sarpagandha with milk, rose distillate, or water, and ideally, it should be consumed after dinner or two hours before going to bed. This medicinal herb has a calming effect and directly acts on the nervous system and helps the person go off to sleep.
Valerian Root and Valerian Root Tea for Sleep
Valerian root often referred to as ‘nature’s Valium’ is a herb that has been used since ancient times to promote tranquillity and improve sleep. It contains several compounds that promote sleep and reduce anxiety. You can either take valerian root in the form of capsules or prepare the famous valerian root tea using 2-3 grams of dried valerian root steeped in hot water for 10-15 minutes.
According to the research, valerian is most effective if you take it regularly for at least two weeks.
Sleep disorders are common. However, before resorting to medicines you should try treating them naturally with the help of herbs mentioned above.
Ashwagandha for Sleep
Ashwagandha is an ayurvedic herb known for its apoptogenic properties as it helps suppress excess of cortisol and stress that act as major triggers of insomnia.
To maximise the benefits obtained from Ashwagandha- specifically for sleep, dilute it in milk and have it right before sleeping. Here is everything you need to know about how Ashwagandha works on sleep.
How to sleep early?
Exercising helps you fall asleep earlier and faster
Exercise helps you sleep earlier as it tires your body out. However, avoid exercising very close to your bedtime - it makes your nervous system active and makes it difficult to fall asleep early.
Working out is known to reduce stress and anxiety, while promoting better quality of sleep.
In order to sleep early, avoid Caffeine
Caffeine in the form of coffee, chocolates or tea can affect your sleep wake cycle. Studies show that coffee intake even before 3 hours of sleeping can affect sleeping early and sleep quality.
Reduce sleeping in the day so that you can sleep early at night
Naps and continual daytime sleeping can prevent you from sleeping early. While you may choose to rest in the afternoon, it is crucial that you keep your naps limited and controlled.
- Susan L. Worley, December 2018; The Extraordinary Importance of Sleep- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6281147/
- Dr. Ananya Mandal, MD, January 2020; What is Sleep?- https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-sleep.aspx
- American Psychological Association, October 2008; Why sleep is important-https://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why