What rules need to be observed in order to make evening sleep a light and natural event? How to lay a child without screaming and tears? How to switch from daytime activity to a serene night's rest? All these questions will be answered by the corresponding section of medicine - sleep hygiene.
Definition of the term
What is sleep hygiene? This is a field of medicine that is responsible for the development of measures to normalize sleep, as well as studying the impact of the environment on the well-being and natural biorhythms of a person. The problems associated with difficult evening falling asleep, sudden night awakenings, heavy lifting in the morning, maintaining vigor and freshness during the day, belong to this section of medicine. Sleep hygiene studies the habits of a person, his morning and evening rituals, any actions that help him fall asleep deeply and calmly, that is, all the factors affecting the process of normal night's rest.
There are four main components that affect sleep quality:
- Daily rhythm.
- Stress-forming factors.
- Reactionary and social substances (nicotine, caffeine, alcohol).
A major role in sleep matters is age. Usually, at the age of five, frequent nocturnal awakenings become commonplace, because over the years, sleep becomes more superficial. The more often a person’s night sleep is interrupted, the more likely it is that in the morning he will get out of bed listless and tired. Other factors causing excitement of the nervous system also affect the frequency of sudden awakenings. For example, drinking alcohol immediately before falling asleep can cause a hangover in the dead of night. Over the years, sleep hygiene has become increasingly important for humans.
All our life activities are subject to a twenty-four hour cycle. It matters what time of day a person is in the arms of Morpheus. The more measured and stable its daily rhythm, the deeper and calmer the dream. A person’s natural biorhythm can be disturbed by a number of reasons: daytime nap, a change in the usual time of departure to a night's rest, physical exercises, and insecurity from light. This parameter is also associated with the intersection of time zones when traveling, a long daylight hours and vigil at the computer immediately before falling asleep.
Various causes can be sources of stress. For example, deadlines for submitting reports and projects, problems at work, family troubles, exams. All these worldly problems can disturb peace and sleep. To escape from such difficulties, of course, it takes time - there are simply no other ways. If a person is accustomed to work until late at night, or has the habit, immediately before falling asleep, to think over the events of the past day, he simply will not be able to instantly switch to a good rest.
Sleep hygiene involves the development of a ritual of falling asleep, individual for each person. This is a certain sequence of actions that switches the body from active wakefulness to a state of relaxation and peace. Someone helps compiling a list of negative accumulated over the day and ways to work with him. Someone has a warm bath or a half-hour reading of an interesting book, someone is listening to their favorite musical compositions. A universal solution for everyone does not exist. One piece of advice: when performing the ritual of going to bed, a person should not keep track of time. It will be annoying and unnerving. It is better to temporarily disconnect from pressing worries and give yourself a few minutes of serene calm.
Restorative forces of a substance
Substances acceptable in society, such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, can have a greater effect on a person than he thinks. For example, nicotine lingers in the body for about fourteen hours, reduces the duration of sleep, and increases the likelihood of nocturnal awakenings. Caffeine has a similar effect on the body, but in small doses it calms the nervous system, and in large doses it excites. From alcohol, at first it can lead to sleep, but later it can provide too vivid dreams, excessive sweating and headache. All this will affect the quality and duration of a night's rest.
Sleep, its meaning
Sleep hygiene is important for any person’s life. Due to poor quality or insufficient sleep, you can get serious health problems, both short-term and long-term. Defective rest can adversely affect the care and productivity of the work.
It is necessary to reduce the normal duration of sleep by an hour and a half - and the level of attention of a person will fall by about a third. Chronic drowsiness significantly impairs memory, the ability to think and make decisions, increases the likelihood of injury at work. Long-term lack of sleep due to apnea (respiratory arrest) often leads to serious health problems: strokes, heart attacks, and hypertension.
The rules of sleep hygiene
- Eating, watching television, and sorting out relationships should not happen in bed. Otherwise, the body will no longer associate the bed with a place for relaxation and sleep.
- A place for a night's rest should be as convenient and comfortable as possible. The air temperature in the room should not exceed 24 ° C and be lower than 13 ° C. Excess light and night noises should be minimized.
- It is necessary to exclude drinking whenever possible after eight o’clock in the evening. A hearty dinner just before falling asleep can ruin a dream, while a light snack, on the contrary, will increase the likelihood of a good night's rest. To satisfy hunger before going to bed, it is better to use dairy or carbohydrate-containing products. Milk contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, which promotes easy falling asleep. Sleep hygiene prescribes the following: if a person cannot fall asleep on an empty stomach, he should drink a glass of milk with low-fat crackers.
- People who experience a sharp surge of strength after exercise are not recommended to perform them before bedtime. Long workouts are best planned for the morning or afternoon. Regular physical activity, especially jogging, aerobics and walking, improves sleep quality.
- Staying pets in bed can be the cause of frequent awakenings at an inopportune hour. If possible, it is worthwhile to provide your beloved animals with a separate, no less warm and cozy place to sleep.
All of the above rules apply equally to children and adults. However , children's sleep hygiene has some features. The physical and mental development, formation of speech skills and, ultimately, full-fledged preparation for school depend on the correct ratio of sleep and wakefulness in a child's mode.
In childhood, it is very important to get enough sleep. Babies three to six months old are shown a seventeen-hour sleep. Over time, the duration of nighttime and the frequency of daytime sleep gradually decrease. Children of three to four years are given 10-10.5 hours for night rest, and 2 hours for daytime rest. To preschool children of five to six years old, daytime sleep is reduced to 1.5 hours, the duration of the night's sleep remains unchanged. Guys quickly form conditioned reflexes to fall asleep. This means that creating a bedtime ritual is especially important in childhood. A certain sequence of actions: washing and brushing your teeth, reading an interesting book, mother’s kiss at night will make the transition from active wakefulness to rest easy and natural for the child. Sleep hygiene of preschool children requires a separate bed, spacious enough and comfortable for an overnight stay. The posture during sleep is also important - a long stay in the same position (for example, only on the right side) can lead to deformation of the spine, chest and skull. It is necessary to monitor the quality of bedding. Pillows should be small (30x30cm), made of soft feather or down. The most hygienic fillers for mattresses are hair and sea grass.
Thus, hygiene of sleep and wakefulness is one of the key points that underlie well-being and good human health. Observing the above rules, you will feel a surge of strength and efficiency. Any recommendations should be approached selectively, so more often listen to your body and choose what is right for you.