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How Soon You Fall Asleep, Matters! That’s Why You Need These Tips.

Do you fall asleep as soon as you hit the bed or do you toss side-to-side for some time before sleep creeps in? Both indicate that something is amiss with your sleep quality, especially sleep latency.

Sleep latency simply means the time interval between being fully awake and falling into the lightest stage of sleep. It serves as a parameter in sleep disorder diagnosis and sleep quality checks. A mean sleep latency of 5–15minutes in adults indicates quality sleep. So if you find yourself asleep in less than 5 minutes or awake for more than 15 minutes, then your attention is called for.

Falling asleep as soon as the lights are off is an indication that your body is overly fatigued or you are in extreme sleep-debt. And if your sleep latency increases beyond the normal, onset insomnia might set in. This affects non-REM and REM stages of sleep, resulting in poor sleep quality.

Here are a few tested tips that help you tune into normal sleep latency.

1. Do not go to bed unless you feel sleepy.

We often think that unless we go to bed, sleep will not set in. But the fact is, sleep will not set in unless you are feeling sleepy, even if you have been lying for an hour in bed.

When you don’t feel sleepy, move out of bed and involve in any sort of work or exercise where you don’t exert yourself much. When you are awake, there is a build-up of adenosine in your body. Adenosine is the chemical factor that signals sleepiness to your brain and finally, you feel sleepy.

2. Watch what you eat.

Always have your dinner at least two hours before sleep. Avoid caffeine and fatty foods like fries, shakes, and cheese after late evening. Heavy foods cause indigestion and stand in the way of sleep. It’s also wise to avoid foods with high water content like soft drinks, celery, and watermelon at the end of the day.

3. Practice active recovery during the day.

If your body gets stuck in a state of high stress, destressing becomes hard and sleep seems distant. Doing recovery activities like Tai-Chi, meditation, short strolls, cycling, etc. helps in unwinding the stress and makes sleep within the reach of optimum sleep latency.

Working until you feel sleepy isn’t good for overall health as well as your sleep quality. Spend some time refreshing your mind and thoughts before you go to sleep: dinner and chats with family, reading a few pages (avoid newspapers and work-related), cooking a dish you love, or even cleaning the room!

4. Limit your daytime naps.

It’s wiser to avoid naps during the daytime if possible (unless you are highly stressed out), to ensure that sleeps sets in soon and there is no interruption to the sleep cycles.

Taking short naps during the day lowers the adenosine in your body. As a result, at the end of the day, the amount of adenosine in your body is lesser than the amount required to make you feel sleepy.

5. Stick to a sleep routine.

Constant changes in sleep timings are also a cause of the unhealthy changes in sleep latency. A person who always goes to bed at 12 p.m. may not be able to fall asleep at 10 p.m. This decreases sleep efficiency and if continued over a period of time, results in sleep debt.

Set a time for sleep and stick to it as much as possible. This helps to adjust your biological clock to doze you off and wake you up at the right time.

6. Make your room sleep-hygienic.

Cooler temperature facilitates falling asleep faster. Adjust your thermostat to suit the temperature your body needs. Avoiding blue light or any source of light in the sleeping area is recommendable. Comfortably bedding is an added factor that makes you fall asleep soon.

7. Avoid Screen time before bed

Mobile phone usage should be limited right before your sleep time. Disturbing emails, texts, or games could delay your sleep time. You can listen to light music that will help you relax.

Being late for classes once in a while can be excused, but when it becomes a habit, action must be taken. It’s normal to miss out on sleep once in a while. But when this prolongs for a period of time, you must heed to it. Timely actions and precautions may help you from slipping into any sleep disorders. If you find your sleep latency abnormal, try out the tips above. If the conditions continue, seek the help of a medical expert.

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