Sleep is a distinct state of mind and body being deeply at rest. It is
during sleep that the metabolism is lowered and the mind becomes
unconscious the external world. We spend almost a third of our lives
sleeping, because it serves an important purpose. Sleep recharges our
run-down bodies and allows us to recover from physical and mental
fatigue. We need sleep to function at our best.
Sleep is not just a simple period of unconsciousness. We go through a
cycle of stages from lighter to deeper (stages 1-4) and dreaming (REM)
sleep throughout the night in approximately 90 minutes of sleep. In the
same way, brief awakenings during the night are normal.
Everyone has periods in their life when they don’t sleep well (some
people worry about that and focus on it more than others). Need for
sleep varies from person to person. Some need more than adults. Most
adolescents go through a period when their brain wants to wake up
late and go to sleep late and it needs to over-ride that and be patient.
It becomes hard to function actively during the day when someone has
a disturbed sleep at night. It raises the risk of problems with how a child
behaves and learns. Over 90% of adolescent children don’t get the
recommended amount of sleep on school nights. Quality of sleep acts
as revitalization of mind and body enabling us to function at peak levels
during our waking hours. Getting enough good-quality sleep is
important during this period, because sleep is vital for thinking, learning
and concentration skills. Good-quality sleep helps to concentrate,
remember things and behave well. These all help to be a successful
learner. Poor sleep, or not enough sleep, affects concentration,
memory and behaviour, making it harder to learn. Children who don’t
sleep well are more likely to feel sleepy and to have difficulties with
Sleepy children tend to have more problems with behaviour at
preschool or school and at home too! For example, a sleepy child might
play up in class or unable to follow the teacher’s instructions. A sleepy
child might miss out on learning and might also miss out on playing
with other children if they don’t like the way he’s behaving.
Research shows that the hour before sleep is crucial so
children/adolescents need close to an hour to relax their brains and
body. Plan the evening activities including homework around stopping
everything an hour before sleep time. That means no homework and
no games; no movies and most certainly no social media access in the
hour before bed. Reading is the most obvious activity, in a quiet and
not-too-light environment. A quiet talk can help some children. Avoid
violent TV shows before bed. Surround yourself that cultivate your
peace of mind while you fall asleep.
This bedtime routine is important to get your child ready for sleep,
especially, after a busy day at school. The human body will restore
sleep functioning through its own self-regulation when it is ready. So
give your brain the best opportunity to be ready for sleep.
Follow sleep hygiene:
‘Sleep hygiene’ is creating the right environment to sleep. It includes
the creating habits and patterns so that your body and brain shall
expect to sleep, when in bed. If you can do the following strictly for
three weeks, it will be effective. After that, you don’t need to be so
Waking up early in the morning and exercising regularly each day,
preferably in the morning, having good exposure to outdoor light are all
necessary things to do. There is good evidence that regular exercise
improves restful sleep. Use some de-stressing strategies about an hour
before bed. Use soothing music. Choose a book with pictures of a place
where you can imagine (try to avoid dark or scary pictures). See it in
your mind. Use your imagination to change the picture or add to it. The
more you create pictures in your mind, the more it can help to relax.
Write a to-do list for tomorrow so your mind does not have to
remember or you need not talk to your parent about the things, which
means, your mind does not have to process that in the night. Tell your
mind that it is okay to let go of all worries for the next 10 hours.
Put some helpful thoughts in your head especially accepting that sleep
is never perfect and it will come when it is ready. If you are going to be
thinking of something, think of your fondest memories. Think of those
thoughts instead of ones that cause you worry and anxiety. Don’t worry
about sleep, but accept that sleep is different every night and that is
Keep the bedroom quiet, dark enough/dimly lit and quiet enough to
help sleep. Keep the temperature in your bedroom comfortable. Go to
bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day which is
Don’t engage in stimulating activity in bed such as exercise, competitive
game, using a computer, watching exciting TV, or having a difficult
discussion. Use your bed only for sleep. If you do homework in bed,
your brain will associate bed with work and be wakeful there. If you
watch movies or play e-games in bed, then your brain will associate bed
with being entertained and be wakeful there. Don’t go to bed too
hungry or too full and don’t command yourself to go to sleep, this only
makes your mind and body more alert.
Sleeping and Waking
Close the day with mindfulness. Be mindful of whatever preparations
you may make before going to bed. Feel the preparations you are
making while arranging the bed. Be especially mindful of the act, as you
finally lay your body down. This act signifies your intention to sleep
which is your last act of closure for the day. So note the intention to lie
down and then lie down mindfully, aware of the body lowering itself
onto the bed and the head as it touches the pillow. So after having lain
down mindfully, you can continue to be mindful of your state of mind
and body. You can know the sensations in the contact between your
body and mattress and your head and pillow. You can know your
breath as you breathe in and out or you can know the rising and falling
of the abdomen, which occur as you inhale and exhale. You might be
aware of your mind and the thoughts that arise. Try to stop your
thinking and planning. Allow yourself to drift into sleep. If you toss
about in bed or intend to turn from one side to another, do all this
mindfully, noting your intention to turn and then turn. Observe
everything like touching, tugging, and switching off the light.
Thoughts that occur can be like
How have I lived this day?
Have I loved?
Have I cared?
Have I been kind & generous & mindful?
Have I learnt to be able to let go?
Ah, tomorrow will be another day. May all beings be happy!!
Again just as you close the day with mindfulness, you must begin it with
mindfulness, too. It is important to wake up in a good state of mind. Be
aware that you have awakened even before you open your eyes. Then
open your eyes mindfully, noting even the intention to open the eyes
before you open them. This may be rather difficult, that is, to be
mindful even before you open the eyes, catching the awakening
moment, but it is rather challenging and interesting, isn’t it?
Be alert and mindful at the moment of awakening. Switch off the alarm.
Open your eyes. Just feel the day, saying, “Oh, what a beautiful
morning!” Welcome another day of opportunities for cultivating good
thoughts, for learning the lessons of our lives of appreciation and
understanding and letting go.
If you have already opened your eyes, and you couldn’t catch that
awakening moment, it is okay and you can still be mindful. Notice your
state of mind. Are you fresh, alert, awake, or are you still sleepy and
wanting to sleep some more? If you still desire to linger in bed and turn
from one side to another, not wanting to get up and you know that you
have to get up, try to summon that intention to get up mindfully, and
get up with as much awareness as you can. Then go about what you
have to do mindfully, walking to the bathroom door, opening the door,
and being mindful of all the activities that follow uncapping the tooth
paste, squeezing the paste onto the toothbrush, brushing your teeth,
rinsing your mouth, soaping and washing your face, wiping it with the
towel, and so on.
Then be mindful of all the activities you do like walking back to your
bed, folding your blanket, making your bed, and so on. It feels good to
do an hour of sitting to meditate after you have washed your face. If
not, a span of about 45 minutes or half an hour would also have its
effect. Meditation helps you to be more composed for the rest of the
day. It is really good to meditate for some time after you get back from
work, as it helps to clean or purify the mind after a day of activity.
To practice mindfulness and the activities related, to have an expert’s
advice on how to deal with stress and anxiety and the unhelpful
thoughts that block your way, book an appointment, today.