Sleepless Nights: A Global Problem
Insomnia and restless nights are two of the most common problems that people face every day. Every person, at some point in their life, has experienced sleepless nights that result in feeling lethargic, exhausted and irritated throughout the day. Sleep is necessary for a healthy and active life, and getting good sleep is crucial for our body and mental health.
According to research conducted by the American Sleep Association, about 30% of adults in the United States are facing sleep problems where 10% of these can be classified as chronic insomnia. This means that almost a third of the population of the US has to deal with the consequences of a sleep deprived lifestyle. This global issue has concerned health practitioners, and various studies have been conducted to find solutions for this problem. One of those solutions that is proven to work are specific exercises that can help induce sleep and reduce insomnia.
The Science of Sleeping and Waking Up
To understand how exercises can help induce sleep, it’s necessary to understand how the process of waking up and sleeping works. Our bodies and brains have biological clocks, also known as circadian rhythms. These clocks are responsible for the signaling of hormones like melatonin and cortisol, which help schedule our sleep and wake-up patterns.
In the morning, our natural circadian rhythm signals our body to produce cortisol, which makes us feel alert and awake. But in the evening, as the day comes to an end, the circadian rhythm signals to reduce cortisol levels and increase melatonin levels, which makes us feel drowsy and induces sleep. Regular exercise has been proven to regulate these hormones and help the body stick to its circadian rhythm, resulting in a good sleep cycle.
Proven Exercises to Induce Sleep
1. Yoga: Yoga poses tend to have a calming and relaxing effect on the body. Certain poses like Child’s Pose, Seated Forward Bend, and Legs Up the Wall tend to increase blood flow to the scalp and brain, reduce anxiety, and help the body relax. Doing these poses continuously for around 10-15 minutes can help induce sleep and reduce insomnia.
2. Breathing exercises: Focusing on breathing helps in reducing stress and relaxing the body. Techniques like deep breathing, counting breaths, and alternate nostril breathing have been proven to improve sleep quality and reduce the effect of insomnia. Practicing deep breathing while lying in bed can help reduce muscle tension and induce relaxation.
3. Cardiovascular exercises: Moderate cardiovascular exercises like walking, jogging, and cycling, help regulate circadian rhythm hormones and improve overall health. Studies indicate that people who indulge in a moderate exercise routine every day tend to sleep better than those who have a sedentary lifestyle.
4. Strength exercises: Strength exercises like squats, pushups, crunches etc., have a physiological effect on the body, causing the release of endorphins, also known as happy hormones. These hormones can help in promoting relaxation and a sense of wellbeing, which can encourage a better quality of sleep.
Sleep Hygiene: Tips for Better Sleep
Apart from exercises, there are certain habits and routines that help promote better sleep. Here are a few tips to follow:
1. Stick to a sleep schedule: Sleeping and waking up at the same time every day helps regulate the body’s internal clock, making it easier to sleep every night.
2. Create a conducive sleeping environment: A dark and quiet bedroom with a comfortable mattress and pillows helps create an environment that’s meant for sleep.
3. Reduce screen time: The blue light emitted by electronic devices like mobile phones and laptops triggers the brain to stay awake, making it difficult to fall asleep. Reducing screen time before sleep or using screen filters can help.
4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Consuming excessive caffeine or alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to restless nights.
The Benefits of Good Sleep
Getting good sleep has multiple mental and physical health benefits. Apart from reducing the risk of heart disease, metabolic disorders and fatigue, having regular and good quality sleep has several other advantages:
1. Improved brain function: Good sleep improves focus, alertness, concentration and cognitive function.
2. Reduced stress levels: Getting good sleep releases hormones like dopamine and oxytocin which alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety.
3. Boosted immunity: Lack of sleep can result in a weakened immune system, which increases the risk of infections and diseases. Good sleep helps build immunity, making the body stronger and more resistant to illness.
4. Improved mood: Good sleep helps release endorphins, which improve mood and emotional wellbeing.
Sleep is an essential human requirement, and getting good and restful sleep is crucial for a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise and following good sleep hygiene habits can help regulate the circadian rhythm, inducing quality sleep and reducing the risk of insomnia. The key is consistency – making exercise and sleep hygiene a part of your daily routine can help promote quality sleep, resulting in a healthier and happier life.
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