Nat­u­ral ways to help you sleep

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Your Telegraph -

A NA­TIONAL news­pa­per (Daily Mail, May 11) Cries “UK ad­dicted to sleep­ing pills”. It warns that the stress re­lated in­som­nia is on rise in Bri­tain, cost­ing NHS £50 mil­lion a year on drugs and the fear that the pa­tients may be get­ting hooked.

Tired­ness and lack of ad­e­quate sleep are, in­deed, the most preva­lent dis­or­ders of our age, And both are linked with stress.

Stress is both a cause and an ef­fect of poor sleep­ing. When you are stressed and anx­ious, you are likely not to sleep well. You may have trou­ble get­ting to sleep, or you may fall asleep at 11pm but wake up again at 2am un­able to sleep again. When you sleep badly, in­stead of wak­ing up fresh and clear, you get out of bed feel­ing stressed and anx­ious, afraid of not be­ing able to func­tion well. It is a vi­cious cy­cle.

But it is a cy­cle that can be bro­ken, and usu­ally with­out sleep­ing med­i­ca­tions.

Sleep­ing pills and tran­quil­iz­ers can be quite harm­ful. These med­i­ca­tions usu­ally cause dull­ness or drowsi­ness rather than good sleep, and you wake up with a kind of hang­over. Af­ter some weeks on tran­quil­iz­ers or sleep­ing pills, most peo­ple get less of the deeper stages of sleep. They may sleep longer, but the qual­ity of rest is not good and be­comes grad­u­ally worse with con­tin­ued use of the pills. Peo­ple start to have pe­ri­ods of sleep­less­ness, toss­ing and turn­ing. So they take larger doses of pills and may be­come ad­dicted to them.

Based on my ex­pe­ri­ence and what I have learned, I wish to share with the readers some very prac­ti­cal sug­ges­tions for bet­ter sleep: Tips to help you sleep It is rec­om­mended that, if at all pos­si­ble, we do not use med­i­ca­tions to change un­healthy or un­wanted pat­terns of sleep. In­stead use nat­u­ral re­lax­ation tech­niques and cut down on foods, drinks and life­style habits that coun­ter­act sleep.

Nat­u­ral re­lax­ation tech­niques such as deep breath­ing (pranayama) and med­i­ta­tion are very help­ful in fall­ing asleep. A few min­utes of al­ter­nate nos­tril breath­ing is very re­lax­ing and can help us to set­tle into sleep.

Cut­ting down or elim­i­nat­ing caf­feine, es­pe­cially af­ter mid­day, is very help­ful. Caf­feine is a stronger stim­u­lant than many peo­ple re­alise, and its ef­fects last many hours.

Read a book in­stead of fret­ting be­fore go­ing to sleep or lis­ten to some sooth­ing mu­sic.

Once you are in bed, don’t keep look­ing at the clock. Anx­i­ety about fall­ing asleep will not help you sleep!

Reg­u­lar ex­er­cise is very help­ful in pro­mot­ing bet­ter sleep at night. You will find that half an hour’s brisk walk­ing or cy­cling (in the morn­ing, if pos­si­ble) will help you en­joy more rest­ful sleep.

No ex­er­cise should be un­der­taken too close to bed­time.

If stress and anx­i­ety are keep­ing you awake, it is im­por­tant to treat the cause, not just the symp­tom. Sim­ply tak­ing some sleep­ing med­i­ca­tion to knock you out will not help in the long run if the sit­u­a­tion that is the source of your anx­i­ety re­mains the same,

In olden days, grand­mother used to say, “Take a cup of warm milk be­fore go­ing to bed. You will sleep bet­ter.” Her ad­vice was ex­cel­lent and is now sci­en­tif­i­cally proven.

So, es­tab­lished bed­time rit­u­als like a warm bath, a cup of hot milk, and a few min­utes of read­ing are all help­ful!

It is bet­ter to wake up at the same time in the morn­ing re­gard­less of the time you went to sleep.

Re­mem­ber ev­ery­body’s cy­cle of sleep is dif­fer­ent – five hours may be more than enough for one per­son, while eight hours may not be suf­fi­cient for an­other per­son.

Do not self-med­i­cate with tran­quilis­ers or sleep­ing pills.

Shel­ley said, “Sleep is the time when gleams of a re­mote world visit your soul.”

With best wishes for a peace­ful sleep with sweet dreams!

HARMESH LAKHANPAUL OBE Led­bury Road, Peter­bor­ough

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