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Have trouble falling asleep, want to be productive in the day

Asked by Male, 35, Married
I struggle to sleep at night, and it takes me around 2 hours to fall asleep. It's almost as if I have a sleep deficit of a few years. What should I do to get back to original super productive state.
Answer
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Madhuri Mohan
Counselling Psychologist

Hi, while there will be many experts who will tell you the importance of sleep on human functioning and how hard it is to make up for sleep debt, they don't understand that in today's world between work and family, rising stress levels, etc. sleep loss is inevitable Hence, I can understand what you are going through and yes, indeed it is difficult to make up long-term sleep debt but with the right steps and a conscious effort, you will be able to regain your sleeping patterns and become 'super productive' again.

The first step that is a must is to keep all forms of electronic devices out of the bedroom. nowdays the smartphone seems to be taking over the world and although it is very tempting to have a quick look at your phone, maybe do your emails, or facebook, etc before you go to bed, this should be avoided. These things stimulate the brain and send the wrong message, so instead of shutting down, you are asking your brain wake up. So, keep the room dark, all electronic devices switched off or out of reach.

Next, focus on your breathing. take in several deep breaths and let them out slowly. repeat this process a few times and count every breath you take. the effects of breathing are vast. Many of us have taken breathing for granted and in that process have forgotten how to breathe properly. Now, you may feel that breathing is such an inherent thing, how can anyone not get it right. Well, i was of the same opinion, until I attended a workshop on breathing conducted by my mentor and it changed my life. I not only learnt how to breathe better, but my health, sleep patterns, my moods and my overall productivity improved ten fold.
So, the key to proper breathing is while taking a deep breath in your stomach expands first and then your lungs and when you exhale your stomach contracts first. Always exhale for a longer period than you inhale. Follow this technique every night before going to bed and i am positive you will notice a difference.

Third, try and maintain regular sleep timings. ensure you are going to bed the same night every day and waking up at the same time. When you do this, you are programming your body to follow a routine and this will help greatly in making up for the sleep deficit. Since you have been struggling to sleep for the past two years, it would be advisable to take a vacation, where you focus on going to bed at one time and waking up without an alarm. Focus on getting atleast 7 to 8 hours of sleep everynight. Furthermore, try to fall off to sleep within 20 minutes by doing the breathing technique mentioned above. Entering a REM cycle after 1 hour can affect the quality of sleep and eve though yo may get in the right number of hours of sleep, yu may not feel refreshed.

Lastly, if you do miss out on a couple of hours of sleep one night because you weren't able to sleep at the right time, add an extra hour or two the next night to make up for the lost sleep. Taking a short ten-minute nap during the day has also been known to improve overall sleep and increase productivity.

I hope these tips help you start off. Just remember, making up for sleep deficit is like paying back a loan, you need provide interest, so the number of hours sleep deficit you already have plus an interest. In short, it is going to take time, but If you make a consious effort you will get there. If you have any further queries or if you want to learn more about breathing techniques feel free to reach out.

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