How to Beat Growing Sleep Disorders

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People spend one-third of their life sleeping, so sleep quality is vital for a balanced life, but more and more Koreans complain of sleep disorders.

The number of people who consulted their doctors about sleep disorders more than doubled over the last decade, from 318,000 in 2011 to 674,000 last year.

The optimum amount of sleep varies for each individual. Some people can make do with six hours while others need eight, but as a rule of thumb an adult should get around seven hours of uninterrupted sleep a night.

One thing that can prevent people from getting enough sleep is exercising late in the day, for example a strenuous session at the gym after work. This heats up and agitates the body and makes it more difficult to get to sleep.

It is therefore important to finish exercising at least five hours before bedtime so the body has time to cool down.

In the morning, sunshine switches on the biorhythm, and even a small amount of sunshine can help the brain get to work, so leave the curtains slightly open before going to bed. Getting a lot of sunshine outside within two hours of getting up will automatically prompt sleepiness 15 to 16 hours afterwards.

But it is important that it is real sunshine rather than a brightly lit interior, so make sure to go outside even on a cloudy or rainy day. To produce wakeful serotonin by day and sleep-inducing melatonin at night, the body needs tryptophan, an amino-acid that forms protein and is found in abundance in beans, tofu, meat, eggs and tuna.

Include tryptophan foods in breakfast, and the quality of your night’s sleep is determined in the morning.

Many older people suffer from sleep disorders, not least because they do not have much to do during the day and have no pressing reason to get up. But a regular routine is vital. Naps can also be a bad idea because they make it more difficult to sleep at night.

Stimulants like coffee and tea should be avoided in the evening because it takes up to eight hours for the caffeine to wear off. Alcohol too is bad, because even if it sends you to sleep, it may startle you awake again a few hours later.

Minimize noise in the bedroom, and eliminate unnecessary light, especially from electronics.

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