As we grow older and life becomes hectic, the one thing that gets compromised is sleep. I have seen that happen to almost everyone. Everyone says you need less sleep as you get older but that is just another forward and a fallacy. I like to believe that I am in the best shape of my life right now. And as counter-intuitive as it might seem, I work out the least now. It’s only 3-4 days a week 45 minutes to an hour.
Compare this to when I used to run. I used to run at least 45 minutes every day. Add to that, the build up to a marathon and you are talking about at least 8-9 hours of running every week. Yet my weight barely budged. I used to still feel fatigued and survived on coffee most days. Doesn’t seem right, right? I have done a lot of retrospective analysis on what the possible reasons for this could be. And believe me, it has nothing to do with functional training being better than running. The key difference I found between the two scenarios, in fact, was how much I used to sleep. Sleep is the key time that your body breaks down fat and repairs muscle. Now that I am sleeping more, I am more enthusiastic about my workouts and see better effects thereof. Here are a few things that I have discovered on my journey to find better sleep.
- Limited Caffeine – No coffee post 4pm is a rule I live by now. It has also helped in eating better in the long run.
- Avoid long naps – Since I work from home, I used to end up taking a nap here and there. I’m not against short power naps, those really help but longer naps used to affect my night time sleep.
- Get yourself conditioned to a good mattress and pillow – We don’t realise that a lot of times, the aches and pains are related to the mattress and the pillow which is either too hard or too soft. I happened to visit the Sleepwell store recently and got to know about their Comfort Cell Mattress series which also can be customized using their “Perfect Match” body mapping process. These mattresses have layers of revolutionary cells that eliminate partner disturbance and conform to the individual’s spine perfectly, keeping it in its natural alignment as you sleep! Can’t imagine technology has come so far. I was also amazed by the science behind the Natura pillow. It is made from the memory foam to relieve pressure points in your neck and head. In any case, one should look at a good mattress and pillow as an investment on your overall wellbeing.
- Meditate – I listen to Om Mani Padmey Hum chant at night. It’s a healing chant and helps me sleep better specially on days I’m feeling restless. You can find various versions online and all are equally soothing.
- Magnesium Supplements – Apparently adequate amount magnesium helps in getting better sleep. My father has been taking the supplement and claims that he has been sleeping better as it also helps in relieving arthritis pain. But do consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
- Night time routine – I do oil mouthwash, wash my face, spray some lavender toner before sleeping. I don’t know is it the routine or the lavender or both that help.
- Get the light right: If you are sitting in bright lights just before you are about to go to sleep your mind is extremely stimulated still. Get a nice bed side lamp that can control the intensity of light with a knob and use that before falling asleep.
- Screen time: Wind down at least an hour before sleep time. No screen time and no reading. But usually we tend to look at the phone screen right after we switch off the lights which sends a signal to the brain that it’s still day!