Rest and peace: Say bye to bad habits for better beddy-byes
You have to actively plan for a good night’s sleep
You wake up in the morning and before you have even brushed your teeth, you check your electronic device. A habit you should have kicked after putting it on your list of New Year’s resolutions.
Panic ensues after discovering numerous questionable messages sent last night while you were asleep. You rack your brain to figure out how your password-protected phone was hacked.
While the scenario is unlikely to happen to you, it is a sleep disorder called sleep texting.
This is why many specialists advise turning off all screens at least an hour before bedtime (which also means not checking your phone). Ensuring your brain is relaxed and sleep-ready when the lights go out. Place your device out of reach and avoid checking it to avoid sleep texting (plus a host of other sleep disorders).
Sleep texting, similar to sleepwalking, talking, eating and even driving, usually manifests itself in those suffering from chronic fatigue. A recent study by the Journal of American College Health attributes the modern phenomenon to poor sleeping habits.
“The different stages of sleep we experience are all extremely important for hormone production. It is common knowledge that electronic screens emit a frequency of light which interferes with the production of sleep hormones. If sleep hormones are disturbed, it drastically affects quality of sleep,” says Mervyn Ewertse, founder and MD of Bed King.
In 2006, Ewertse developed Comfort Solutions after identifying a need for a truly comfortable sleep experience. Over the past 13 years, it has evolved to include the Comfort Solutions Lab, which uses pressure mapping technology combined with a user’s unique data to recommend a mattress that “knows” how to properly support and comfort your body while you sleep.
“People sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress will toss and turn up to 80 times a night and seldom develop a deep sleep pattern, which is why comfort is subjective to the individual,” says Ewertse.
The National Sleep Foundation says hormone regulation (promoting alertness and a balanced appetite), tissue repair and memory consolidation are vital processes that occur in the body when we achieve quality sleep. Disturbing the circadian rhythm, your body’s molecular clock, exposes you to a number of illnesses.
Alternatively, it is equally important not to oversleep. A recent global study published in the European Heart Journal found that sleeping more than the recommended 6-8 hours increases your propensity for a number of heart diseases.
Stress levels also play an important role, but resolving stress is easier said than done. If your life and work are demanding too much of you, it is worth considering stress-relieving techniques such as meditation and exercise.
Some tips for calming your mind and body before bed: Use a breathing technique to calm your nervous system. One that is known for supporting sleep is “square breathing”. Sit upright in a chair, exhale, then breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, out for four counts and hold for four counts. Repeat for three cycles – or more if it works for you. There are many other breathing exercises you can explore on the internet.
Do gentle stretches or yoga poses to release the tension of the day and prepare your body for deep relaxation.
Essential oils such as lavender, sandalwood, bergamot and ylang ylang are known for their calming, sleep inducing effects. Incorporate your favourite aroma into a warm bath or find a pillow spray.
Practise visualisation – add details to your mental picture of a countryside scene or an isolated beach.
Read or do mental exercises such as Sudoku or crosswords.
Avoid caffeine after 2pm and alcohol before bed as both rob you of an uninterrupted night’s sleep. We spend a third of our lives (at least) in bed. For this reason it’s a good idea to plan for a good night’s sleep and transform your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary.