Truth, Inspiration, Hope.

How to Get Good Sleep at Night for More Productive Days

Shoba Rajamani
Shoba is located in Bangalore and describes herself as creative, adventurous, a movie lover, a novel reader, and a badminton player. She dreams of one day writing her own children's book.
Published: November 22, 2022
Sleep is important for refreshing the mind and rejuvenating the body. (Image: Claudio_Scott via Pixabay)

Sleep is a biological requirement, just like drinking water and eating. Getting sufficient sleep at night can improve your days in many ways, while sleep deprivation is linked with decreased productivity and decreased immune response, leading to various health concerns; yet perhaps you have difficulty falling asleep. 

You may be overwhelmed with responsibility, bogged down with worries, or stressed from work or school, putting sleep low on your list of priorities.

Somehow, we need to get past this; for the fact is: getting enough uninterrupted sleep may be the best way to increase your health and productivity. 

Sherlock Holmes once confessed to Doctor Watson that sleep is necessary for everyone, and that the most incredible way to heal every sickness that exists in the world is to have a good night’s rest. He was absolutely right! 

When we relax, our bodies regain vitality and health. A good night’s sleep is the best method for reducing stress, giving us a fresh perspective on life, and functioning at our best.

What happens during sleep?

After the first stage of sleep “nodding off,” we enter the second stage of light sleep, then progressively proceed into the deeper third and fourth stages of sleep. After about 90 minutes of sleep, you enter the fifth stage of sleep, known as rapid eye movement sleep (REM). 

Normally, the cycle repeats at least five times in a single night, with the REM increasing in duration with each cycle, starting at about 10 minutes, and reaching up to an hour or more, depending on one’s age. 

Even though sleep is an essential part of everyday life, it can easily be disrupted by anxiety, stress, tension, insomnia, or even dreams. 

How do dreams disturb sleep?

Dreams can occur during both non-REM and REM phases of sleep, but REM  dreams are likely to be more intense and have logical connections. 

Medical sleep analysts and sleep professionals are all perplexed by dreams, as people regularly dream about things that have nothing to do with their life. 

Some dreams are chalked up to association. For instance, if you see a mountain and a gold biscuit during the day, you may dream of a golden mountain at night. Some scriptures suggest that sleep terrors or distressing dreams may originate from past-life experiences that left traces in the psyche or mind. 

Some experiences, such as premonitions or déjà vu, teach us to respect our dreams. Scriptures also recall numerous incidents where dreams have prophesied future events. According to contemporary experts, sleep is associated with the subconscious mind, unfulfilled needs, thoughts, and inspirations.

Some dreams can affect our quality of sleep. Sleep terrors — also known as night terrors — usually occur during non-REM sleep cycles. It is difficult to wake someone with night terrors; and even if they are roused, they will be puzzled and unable to recall anything about the dream.

As many as 40 percent of children suffer from sleep terrors. While it is frightening for the parent, it is not cause for great concern and is usually outgrown before the teenage years.

Nightmares, or parasomnia, have a greater impact on our sleep. People who have nightmares can usually recollect their dreams in detail and feel emotionally distressed. They may feel completely aware of their emotions and fear the recurrence of the dream.

Easing a mind haunted by nightmares

If your sleep is often disrupted with stressful dreams, there are several ways to set your mind at ease.

  • Keep a dream diary. Write down what you saw in your dreams, and record your thoughts about it. This will help you process whatever is burdening your subconscious mind.
  • Talk about it with a friend who has a positive attitude. They may or may not have some helpful advice. Either way, expressing yourself is important for working through things that are bothering you. 
  • Chant some prayers or mantras or recite your favorite scriptures or poetry as you lie in bed to fill your mind with positive thoughts.
Our current obsession with electronic gadgets is a huge sleep deterrent. (Image: Mikle K.K. via Flickr CC By 2.0)

Even if you don’t suffer from nightmares, getting sound sleep can be challenging if you’re distracted with anxious thoughts or your mind is a chaotic mess. The following advice is meant to help calm your busy mind and enable you to get good, regular sleep.

Turn off electronic devices

To get a good night’s sleep, you need to clear your mind of all the thoughts that keep it busy. Staring at an electronic screen — no matter how small — stimulates brain activity, making it harder to sleep. Backlights from our devices also decrease the production of melatonin — the hormone that urges your body to sleep. 

Resist checking social media before going to bed. Put your phone in “do not disturb” mode or place it in another room, and turn off other devices to minimize temptation.

Try to complete all of your screen time at least one hour before bedtime. This will enable you to fall asleep faster and get a better night’s sleep. To resist the temptation of electronic gadgets, turn off all devices before retiring to bed.

Follow a sleep schedule

Make a habit of going to bed at the same time every day and stick to it. This will reinforce your body’s natural sleep rhythm, promoting a more peaceful rest. The best nightly rituals should help you relax and be simple to follow daily. 

Giving your brain time to rest is crucial; so avoid doing last-minute tasks, watching stressful or action-packed media, or entertaining friends and relatives at late hours. Those are all stimulating activities that do not promote sleep.

Naps may be a terrific way to get refreshed and make it through the day, but timing is critical. Late naps can disturb your sleep pattern. If you want to nap, ensure your rest time falls at the same time every day, so your body knows what to expect.

Say ‘no’ to caffeine 

Caffeine can be a great pick-me-up in the morning, but it’s a poor choice at night. Since caffeine can remain in your body for more than 10 hours, afternoon coffee can easily impact your rest at night. Introduce non-caffeinated beverages for the later part of the day to ensure a good night’s sleep.

Create an evening routine 

A nighttime ritual can assist you in appropriately winding down and preparing for a good night’s sleep. Furthermore, a healthy nightly routine will only increase productivity the next day. 

It’s best to start your evening routine at least two hours before going to bed. Take care of the things that will make the next day simpler, such as selecting clothing, preparing meals, clearing your email inbox, and so on. 

Read wholesome classic literature — in proper, paper book format — as you prepare to sleep; or listen to calm and relaxing music before dozing off.

The idea is to release the day’s anxiety and set the stage for a stress-free morning so that your mind is not overwhelmed when you head for bed.

Establish a sleep environment

Make sure your bedroom is set up to make you feel safe and comfortable. Feng shui principles can guide you to make your home environment a place where you feel relaxed, nurtured, and balanced. 

Remove any images or objects that feel threatening or disturbing, and maintain a clean and tidy space. Choose a decor that is pleasant and calming. Abstract art is not recommended for peaceful sleep. 

Relax the mind and body

Mindful meditation before bed is another great way to achieve a serene mind. Daily meditation has a cumulative effect, and can grant you increasing control over the ideas that haunt you at night. 

Many studies have demonstrated the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, particularly for children, as it enables them to learn everything much more quickly and effectively. For adults, sleep is critical for the body’s regenerative processes and cognitive functions. So don’t cheat yourself. Discover the benefits of good sleep, starting tonight!