After an European journal study says that going to sleep between 10 pm and 11 pm can improve mental and physical health, Mumbaikars who made the switch decode how it worked for them
An AM routine ensures that your sleep is more restful. Representation pic
A new study published in the European Heart Journal, which analysed the sleep and heart patterns of around 88,000 adults for six years, found that going to bed between 10 and 11 pm every night can contribute to improved heart health. Participants who went to sleep between 11 pm and 11.59 pm had a 12 per cent greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, while those with post-midnight bedtimes had a 25 per cent higher risk. In a city infamous for its long working hours and longer commutes, early bedtime can seem a challenge. Readers who’ve made the switch reveal how the turnaround made a positive impact on their physical and mental wellbeing.
No more binges
Rahul Banerjee, 34, chef-turned-marketer
Rahul Banerjee before and after switching to a morning routine
I was always a night bird. My day began post 9.30 or 10 pm, after my dog and wife had gone to bed; it was when I did my ideation. During the lockdown, however, as I became more involved in household chores, I realised that I needed more time. Waking up late meant I was losing valuable daylight hours. As a result, it would take twice as long to complete the task. The first few days were difficult and disorienting. But, as they say, when you practice something for 21 days, it becomes a habit. Now, I begin my day at 5 am. I take my dog for a walk and then hit the gym. As opposed to the past, when my health was never a priority for me, my lifestyle has come to the forefront now. I was obese when the lockdown started. But the AM routine helped me to reduce from 93 kg to 72 kg. I attribute this shift to exercising but also to the fact that not staying up late meant that I could cut down on my 3 am binges. I was an emotional eater and would relish the process of making myself a huge juicy burger. Today, I eat nine small meals, the last of which is at 8.30 pm. This ensures that I sleep as soon as my head touches the pillow. Being an early riser has also improved my mental health. Having struggled with PTSD for more than a decade now, I found my mental state reaching an all-time low during the beginning of the lockdown. Having that extra time with myself and my wife has played a crucial role in elevating my mental health. I am also much more productive — I meet my office timelines and can end the day when my office ends. Looking back, my biggest regret is that I didn’t make this shift earlier.
Inspired by the simpler life
Ankita Arya, 28, PR professional
Ankita Arya’s morning routine boosted her motivation levels
When the lockdown was first announced, I spent all day at home. My routine, which was already partial to late nights, went out of control. I was binge-watching shows until 5 am, and then waking up at 9 am for work. I wasn’t sleeping enough, which took a toll on me, physically and emotionally. My motivation and energy levels were at an all-time low and I even regained the weight I had lost before the lockdown, as gyms were shut. After five months, I moved back to my hometown. Everyone around me was an early riser and, in some ways, I was compelled to change my routine to keep up. I was amazed by the transformation — a morning routine leaves me re-energised. I can focus more on my work and have stopped binge-watching shows. I took a solo trip to Himachal Pradesh and being in the midst of nature inspired me further to stick to the diurnal clock. Upon my return to Mumbai, I continued to maintain the routine. I have started a home-based exercise routine and am learning to play the flute. I also practice intermittent fasting, which keeps my eating in check.
Dr N Ladak and Dr S Solanki
Dr Naazneen Ladak, a psychiatrist, explains that we have two types of sleep cycles — REM and non-REM sleep. Non-REM sleep takes place in the early part of the night, while REM sleep takes over as we get closer to the day. Sleeping early gives you the benefits of both these stages. Further, melatonin, your sleep hormone, is released between 2 am and 4 am. It is responsible for improving the quality of your sleep. It is important to sleep for at least eight to nine hours every night, without breaks in the cycle. Getting enough sleep can prevent mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. “A morning-based routine is more in sync with the body’s circadian rhythm, which corresponds with daylight. Sleeping and waking up at the same time every day gives your body a chance to heal more effectively. Sleep occurs in 90-minute cycles, and each stage has associated functions. These include restoring your brain’s chemical balance and consolidation of memories. Erratic sleep hampers the repair process. Despite sleeping for the same number of hours, your body has not undergone the necessary repair. You may experience memory loss or mood changes,” explains Dr Sonam Solanki, consultant pulmonologist at Masina Hospital.
Give it a shot
Even if you can’t meet the ‘golden hour’ prescribed by the study, Dr Solanki suggests these routines:
>> Stick to a relatively early, but regular, sleeping routine
>> Ensure you eat your last meal at least two hours before bedtime.
>> Avoid caffeine after 5 pm, so your body is not affected by the residual effect of stimulants.
>> Avoid reading or scrolling on your phone at the end of the day.