sleep-cycle Sleep disorders have become a common phenomenon. Blame it on fast-paced lifestyles or the rat race. While on certain days — when you have to meet strict deadlines — you have ample reasons to burn the midnight oil; on others, you simply are a couch potato and spend hours in front of the television, compromising on your sleep.

The result? You wake up in the morning feeling tired and exhausted. And a day that begins with fatigue can never end on an energetic note. It is often suggested that one goes to bed at least one hour before midnight. Lack of sleep can cause a variety of physical and mental problems like heart diseases, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and insomnia. Lack of it also affects our cognitive processes like learning and thinking.

Medical experts have always advised ample rest be given to the brain and body. To attain this successfully, you need to finish your dinner early and give your stomach at least three hours to digest the food you have eaten. The following are a few steps to help you get your sleep-cycle on track.

Make sure you set your body clock and follow it religiously. For instance, if you sleep at 11 pm, make sure you wake up by 7 am the next day. And even if you sleep after 11 pm the next day, ensure you wake up at 7 am the following day. This way, your body will get used to the 11 am-7 pm routine and no matter what time you hit the sack, you will get up at 7 am.

Don’t use your mobile phone or laptop for at least an hour before you go to sleep. Refrain from browsing through social networking sites for at least an hour prior to your bedtime as once you get hooked to your gadgets, it often becomes difficult to switch off.

You can listen to light music when you get under the sheets. It will help you fall asleep and will also relax your mind.

Ensure you have very light food at night. If you have a stomach full of food when you go to bed, it will take longer to digest it. And if you sleep before your stomach digests it, you will wake up feeling bloated. This often leads to gastritis.

Stress causes poor sleep. Research shows that insomniacs not only have poor appetite, but also brood over a simple incident more than those who sleep well. More recently, researchers have discovered that good-quality sleep the night before a stressful event can protect you from negative health consequences. Even though you will still encounter stressful events in your life, good quality sleep gives you better brain chemistry to deal with those events. Lack of sleep can cause a variety of physical and mental problems.