I have had a long battle with sleep disorders. I slept well as a child, and I used to get a minimum of eight hours of sleep until my early twenties. When I was in my twenties, I struggled to sleep more than three hours a day. This improved to five hours a day in my thirties. Now that I am 50, I am slowly inching towards six hours of sleep per day because of many lifestyle changes.
Six hours of sleep may be less than what most others get, but for a sleep-deprived person for a long time, it is a welcome change. I am sharing my experiences, hoping this could benefit someone sailing on the same boat. Here's a sneak preview.
- Follow a no-sugar diet.
- Reduce caffeine intake.
- Drink lemon water.
- Avoid electronic devices before bed.
- Keep your mind calm.
- Drink less water around bedtime.
1. Follow a No-Sugar Diet
I am off added sugar for more than a year. Added sugar is by far the biggest culprit in disturbing my sleep patterns. This is something I have learnt through experience. So I would stick to a diet free of added sugar.
When we eat added sugar, our blood sugar keeps fluctuating because of excess secretion of insulin. Added sugar spikes the blood sugar level and the resultant insulin brings it down. Therefore, we alternate between high blood sugar and low blood sugar when we regularly consume added sugar.
When we are off added sugar, our blood sugar stabilizes to a normal level. Normalcy results in peace of mind and undisturbed sleep. But quitting sugar alone was not enough for me to reach six hours of sleep. So I started to exercise.
You can read in-depth about the benefits of staying off-sugar in my article titled No-Sugar Diet: Four months Without the Sweet Stuff.
There are only two physical exercises I do regularly. One is a brisk walk, and another is a set of floor exercises. I go for a morning walk for about half an hour covering 3km of stretch on the beachside. I do this a minimum of three times a week.
My exercise routine includes pushups and sit-ups in the morning hours. I do 36 pushups and 24 sit-ups at a time. There is no science to these numbers, and each individual can decide the numbers based on their comfort. I do both these exercises a minimum of three times a week but not necessarily on the same days.
There are days I do not find time to walk or exercise. This explains why I have set a goal of a minimum of three times a week. If you can do daily, more the merrier. I found a moderate improvement in my sleep because of exercise and walking.
3. Reduce Caffeine Intake
I am not for eliminating caffeine completely. I still start my day with a coffee or tea I take coffee or tea with milk but no sugar. But I have stopped drinking tea or coffee later in the day. I felt a noticeable improvement in my sleep patterns after reducing caffeine intake when I replaced it with lemon water.
4. Drink Lemon Water
It is believed that lemon water helps in sugar detox. Lemon is a rich source of vitamin C and it also helps in weight loss. I started trying this experimentally replacing my tea. After making a juice from half a lemon, I add just plain or lukewarm water. I do not add salt or sugar.
I rinse my mouth soon after taking lemon water. The citric acid in the lemon water can cause damage to tooth enamel and so it is advisable to gargle after taking lemon water. It had a noticeable effect on my sleep, but it is difficult to say if the reduction in caffeine intake or introducing lemon water was the cause.
5. Avoid Using Electronic Devices Before Bed
Excess use of laptops, mobile phones, tablets and television screens can cause discomfort to our eyes. During sleep, we rest not just our minds but also our eyes. If either our mind or our eyes are disturbed, this would affect our sleep. So each one of us can set a cut-off time beyond which electronic devices should not be used.
I stop using electronic devices 30 minutes before bedtime. If you can stop using electronic devices an hour or two before sleep, it is better. It had a moderate effect on my sleep patterns.
6. Keep Your Mind Calm
A calm mind can get sleep faster than a disturbed mind. Reducing stress is easier said than done. However, there are few techniques that could help reduce stress. If you are facing a stressful situation, just focus on what you need to do rather than the outcome of the situation. This could help reduce stress. Such a mental state takes time to develop.
There are a few simple things to help reduce stress.
- Taking a shower
- Deep breathing exercises
- Listening to music
- Getting some fresh air
I get stressed less often, and I find deep breathing, soft music or a shower help me sleep faster.
7. Drink Less Water Around Bedtime
I used to wake up in the middle of the night to answer nature’s call in the past. Through experience, I have learnt to limit my water intake closer to bedtime. Reducing water intake is restricted only to bedtime, but I drink plenty of water during the daytime. This has only a mild effect on my sleep, but to me, every drop counts.
Each individual is unique. The things that have worked for me need not work for you. But these are all good lifestyle changes to follow. Some of you may have a better idea, and you can share the same. If my article can help one more person, I would be happy.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Please share your ideas to get better sleep and your views on this article.
Mohan Babu (author) from Chennai, India on December 21, 2019:
I am glad you too feel the tips would be useful for someone suffering from insomnia. Thank you, Umesh.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 21, 2019:
Good tips. Definitely will help a person suffering from insomnia.
Thanks for posting.
Mohan Babu (author) from Chennai, India on December 09, 2019:
Thank you for dropping by. I am glad you found the tips useful.
Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on December 09, 2019:
Useful tips to sleep better. Thanks for sharing.
Mohan Babu (author) from Chennai, India on December 06, 2019:
Thanks, Liz. I am glad you sleep better now. We all know how draining it can be when we lose sleep.
Liz Westwood from UK on December 06, 2019:
Your article contains great tips. Many years ago we both struggled to get to sleep one night. Thinking back over what we had eaten we linked our insomnia to dark chocolate eaten while watching a film. As I have got older I avoid caffeine and chocolate from mid-afternoon onwards. I can relate to the other points you make too.