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You don’t need experts to tell you how important sleep is. A couple of days without 7-8 hours of deep sleep can make you cranky, upset your bodily functions, and make you feel like you cannot concentrate on anything. Both physical and mental health is dependent on a good night’s sleep. Studies confirm that proper sleep produces somatotropin – human growth hormone (HMH) – that builds and repairs muscle, tissue, and bones.
You’re also supposed to take a balanced diet and avoid heavy dinners that include spicy and fatty foods. Caffeine intake, the main sources of which are coffee and sodas (after which a majority of the young adults are crazy), should be watched and decreased. A lot of people don’t monitor their caffeine intake and don’t realize how long it takes for it to leave the system.
When it comes to mental health, a few exercises before going to sleep is always a good idea. Visualization exercises calm a racing mind and physical movements release tension. Otherwise getting daily exercise is the best way to stay fit and sleep well. Checkout FITPASS with which you can attend a slew of workouts like yoga, aerobic exercises, swimming, etc., anywhere, anytime.
You can choose from several breathing exercises for anxiety and stress. Perform them anytime during the day but they’re best when done just before bedtime. Something as simple as a breathing exercise benefits your mental composure; it improves awareness and relaxes the mind. Counting, say up to hundred, also helps. On the other hand, visualizing your lungs as you inhale and exhale is also helpful. Check out the following breathing exercises for better sleep:
- The 4-7-8 breathing technique – breathe in from your nose for 4 seconds, hold it in for 7 seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds
- Box breathing – breathe in and then exhale entirely. Then, breathe in while counting till 4, hold for 4 more seconds, and exhale as much as you can
- Kapalbhati – assume the meditation mudra and take a deep breath in. Contract your belly as you force the breath out of your lungs. Breathe in as you quickly release your abdomen. Repeat 20 times
- Bhramari Pranayama - close your eyes and cover them with your hands; place your index fingers above the eyebrows and the rest of the fingers on the eyes. Keeping your mouth closed, breathe through your nose making an ‘Om’ sound. Repeat 5 times
- Diaphragmatic breathing exercise – sit in a chair and place one hand flat against your chest and the other on your stomach. Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose. Let the hand on your stomach rise and fall with your breaths and let the other hand stay still. Next, breathe through pursed lips. The idea is to be able to breathe without moving your chest
Yoga benefits every part of the body; it is customizable and yet you can find a pose for any particular ailment. The origins of Yoga can be traced back to a few millennia and the most modern studies back the benefits of yoga for physical and mental health. The way yoga exercises require you to breathe, calms the mind and body and oxygenates the blood, which facilitates the repair processes while sleeping as well as the quality of sleep itself. Moreover, yoga asanas open up the body that makes you feel comfortable. There’s hardly any need for elaborate equipment and can be done alone or in a group. Here are a few yoga asanas for better sleep:
- Uttanasana (Standing forward bend)
- Balasana (Child’s pose)
- Virasana (Hero pose)
- Marjaryasana & Bitilasana (Cat & Cow pose)
- Viparita Karani (Legs up the wall)
- Supta Matsyendrasana (Supine Twist)
- Ananda Balasana (Happy baby)
- Savasana (Corpse pose)
Barring some problems, the general idea is that the more tired you are, the better you will sleep. Disturbed sleep is very common in our society mostly due to physical and mental stress. Swimming is a full-body exercise with a very low risk of injuries. You can burn up to 400 calories by swimming for an hour, which is more than enough to tire you out. Swimming uses every major muscle group which relaxes them and calms your mind. Swimming is an aerobic exercise that increases heart rate without raising the body temperature too much.
The resistance in water is 12 times the resistance in the air, which increases the intensity of the workout. Swimming leads to biochemical changes in the brain by alternately stretching and relaxing skeletal muscles in addition to promoting deep breathing rhythmic patterns.
Aerobic exercise benefits the body by increasing oxygen in the system, which improves energy production and metabolic processes. Aerobic exercises, when performed at moderate intensity for extended periods, offer the best benefits. Jogging, running, jumping rope, treadmill, and stationary bicycle among others improve the quality of sleep. Aerobic exercises are considered to be better than taking medicines, which have side effects and aren’t exactly healthy. Even those who sleep enough can improve their quality of sleep by incorporating some aerobic exercise in their daily life.
Meditation doesn’t require a lot of space, nor any equipment. All you need is a peaceful place where you can spend 15 to 20 minutes. Meditation quiets the mind, which decreases anxiety, stress, and worry. A calm mind allows you to fall asleep much faster. Moreover, meditation is not only restricted to improved sleep, but it also improves the overall quality of life. Meditation is the process of relaxing and letting go, which is bound to improve sleep.
These exercises can be practiced separately or together not only for better sleep but improved overall life as well.