They say sleep is the best medicine. Living in the modern world we all know how important sleep is to overcome stress and most importantly to remain fit and healthy. People who struggle to get the right amount of sleep will tell you the joy and comfort that comes with a good night’s sleep. Insomniacs go great lengths to find an answer to their disorderly sleep patterns.

Sleep is a comforting experience. Did you know that we spend 33% of our lives asleep? But it’s the quality of sleep that is more important than the quantity. If you haven’t slept properly, you are more likely to feel stressed out, tired and lethargic. It not only affects your physical well-being but mental well-being too. To attain both a healthy body and mind you need a good sleep.

Insomnia amongst the elderly

Lack of sleep can seriously affect your health, especially if you are an elderly person. Sleep-inducing drugs are known to work on a short-term basis, but they often are blamed to cause drowsiness, increase falls and impact memory. A review of studies conducted amongst older people with insomnia, published in the British Medical Journal, highlighted that although drugs worked to improve sleep, but it did not justify the significant risk.

A research team at the University of Pittsburgh devised a method to help elderly people suffering from long-term insomnia. Their unique treatment works on changing the behavioural patterns and does not involve drugs at all. They have successfully tested it out on elderly patients and the results have been quite positive.

The big question is: How many hours of sleep do we actually need? Is it eight hours or seven or six? In fact, you need enough sleep so that you feel active and recharged when you wake up to help you stay alert for the rest of the day. Its not unusual for people to get by on just 3-4 hours a sleep most nights. Apparently that’s how much sleep a few famous names like Napoleon, Florence Nightingale, Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minister, functioned on.

A good night’s sleep is the result of observing some simple rules. You don’t have to make drastic changes to your current lifestyle. Here are 10 rules that you can consider:

1. Learn to relax – the modern world gives us ample opportunities to worry about. But if you are thinking about office work and worrying about what to do the next day, you won’t fall asleep. Put your worries aside and make a list of things to tackle it the next day.
2. Follow a sleep pattern – Make sure you go to bed at night and wake up in the morning at the same time everyday, including weekends. This will help the body to function better.
3. Light supper – Don’t eat too much or to less before you sleep or else your stomach might demand attention in the middle of the night.
4. Stop using an alarm clock – In the modern world we have become slaves of time. Using an alarm clock to wake you up is a bad idea as it deprives you of sound sleep and affects your mood and temper once you wake up. However, you may want to keep an alarm clock at the ready as a precaution and set it for sometime after your regular get up time if there are strict times to meet. You don’t want to wake up at 8 AM if you have to be at office at that hour.
5. Light exercises – try to get fresh air by going out for a walk, it not only helps you remain fit but relieves stress too. Moderate exercises like walking or swimming are recommended but not close to bedtime.
6. Cut down on alcohol – Although alcohol might help you fall asleep quickly, but it subdues deep sleep and should be consumed three to five hours before you sleep, otherwise you are likely to wake up at night. If you really want to drink something, a glass of hot milk before bed will help induce sleep quickly.
7. Say no to cigarettes – Studies have proved that it takes longer to fall asleep after you’ve smoked a cigarette and it also causes a disturbed sleep.
8. Caffeine and sleepiness – Drinks like coffee and coke contain caffeine and induce insomnia. They can be taken five to six hours before you sleep and not after that.
9. Limit naps – taking a siesta, or an afternoon nap can affect your sleep at night. If you do want to take a nap, make it no longer than thirty minutes.
10. Getting ready to sleep – Relax your body by taking a warm bath with aromatic oils in the evening. Make your bedroom comfortable by making it dark and quiet as possible. Try listening to some soft, soothing music or read a nice book. Avoid watching violent films or TV programmes just before you sleep.

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