Sleep is a periodic state of rest during which consciousness of the
world is suspended. A sleeping person does not see or hear.
There is also a decreased movement of skeletal muscles and slowed-down metabolism.
Hence getting enough sleep is essential for a healthy body and mind.
illness, a person often requires more sleep and rest than normal. However,
the nature of an illness may prevent the patient from gaining adequate rest
and sleep. If the person has trouble falling asleep night after
night, he may feel tired, irritable, forgetful, and depressed.
Always talk to your doctor about your concerns. He may be able to
help diagnose the cause of the problem and make recommendations for solving
it. Most sleep disorders can be treated effectively.
Guidelines to Hours of Sleep Required
Each person’s sleep requirement is different. It is important
to consider how much sleep you need on an individual basis. Below
are some guidelines to help you consider how much sleep you or your loved
ones might need:
Infants and Children – Infants require about 16 hours a day. From
6 months to about 3 years, children’s sleep requirement decreases to about
14 hours. Young children generally get their sleep from a combination
of nighttime sleep and naps.
Teenagers – Teenagers need about 9 hours of sleep a night. Sleep is crucial for teenagers because it is while they are sleeping that
their bodies release a hormone that is essential during their growth spurt.
Adults – For most adults, 7 to 8 hours a night appears
to be the best amount of sleep, although the amount ranges
from 5 hours to 10 hours of sleep each day depending on the
Pregnant Women – Women in the first trimester
of pregnancy, and sometimes throughout pregnancy, need significantly more
sleep than usual.
Tips for Good Night’s Sleep
To help the person in his sleep, you must understand the factors influencing
it and his sleeping habits. Each person requires an individualised
Maintain a regular schedule:
Encourage the person to wake up and go to bed at the same time
each day. Keeping a regular schedule will help his body expect sleep
at the same time each day. Do not oversleep to make up for a poor
night’s sleep because that could reset his body clock and make it hard
for him to get to sleep at night.
Avoid napping during the day:
If the person is having trouble sleeping at night, try not to
nap during the day because this will make him
even more difficult to sleep at night. If nap is necessary, be sure
to sleep for less than 30 minutes early in the day.
Keep busy and active during the day:
A person who is kept busy and active by day usually sleep well during
the night, whereas one who is bedridden or remain on sofas
or in chairs throughout the day has considerable difficulty in sleeping.
Avoid consuming foods and beverages
with caffeine or alcohol late in the day: These are stimulant
that keep the person awake. Consuming coffee, chocolate, sugar,
soft drinks, non-herbal teas, diet drugs, and some pain relievers late
in the day may prevent one from falling asleep.
Expose to bright light/sunlight soon
after awakening: This will help to regulate the person's
natural biological clock. Sleep experts recommend exposure to an
hour of morning sunlight for people having problems falling asleep.
Likewise, try to keep the bedroom dark while sleeping so that rest is not
Exercise early in the day:
Try to exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day. This can helps the person
sleep, but be sure to exercise in the morning or afternoon because exercise
stimulates the body and may make falling asleep more difficult. To
promote sleep, an interval of at least 3 hours is required
between exercise and bedtime.
If the person is experiencing fearful nights, you may keep a light on
at night. Having a radio playing softly, keeping the windows open
for night sounds, and making occasional visits to the person's room and
talking with him are also helpful.
Check iron level:
Iron deficient persons tend to have more problems sleeping. If the
person blood is iron poor, a supplement might help in his health and ability
Make sure the bed is comfortable:
Test different types of mattresses and use comfortable cotton sheets.
Try therapeutic shaped foam pillows that support neck or provide extra
pillows that help the person sleep on his side.
Make the bedroom primarily a place
for sleeping. It is not a good idea to use the bedroom for
doing work, etc. The body needs to recognise that this is a place
for rest or intimacy.
Keep bedroom peaceful and comfortable:
Make sure the room is well ventilated and try to keep it quiet. Maintain
a comfortable temperature in the bedroom. Extreme temperatures may
disrupt sleep or prevent the person from falling asleep.
Don't eat a large meal within one
to two hours of going to bed: This can cause indigestion
and interfere with normal sleep cycle. If late dinner is required,
it should be provided at least two hours before bedtime. Drinking too much
fluid before bed will cause the person to get up to urinate.
Maintain bedtime rituals:
You can train the person to associate certain restful activities with
sleep and make them part of his bedtime ritual. For instances, read
or listen to the radio each night before turning out the lights.
Establishing a pattern can encourage his body to fall asleep.
Get out of bed if unable to sleep:
Do not lie in bed awake. Get the person to do something else, like
reading, watching television, or listening to music, until he feels tired.
The anxiety of being unable to fall asleep can actually contribute to insomnia.
Avoid exposing to bright light because it gives cues to his brain that
it is time to wake up.
Consider changing the person's bedtime:
If the person is consistently experiencing sleeplessness night, consider going
to bed later. For instance, if he is only getting five
hours of sleep at night, go to bed at 1am if he wants to get up at 6am.
Gradually increase his sleeping hours by 15 minutes when he is spending
the full hours in bed sleeping. This may seem counterproductive and,
at first, the person may be depriving himself of some sleep, but it can
help train his body to sleep consistently while in bed.