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It is very important that at least an hour or preferably two hours, immediately preceding bedtime should be spent in peaceful and relaxing activities. When we are excited on involved in physical activity the adrenal gland releases a substance called adrenaline, which helps us to cope with difficult situations. It keeps a person awake.
Adrenaline, once released, cannot be called back. It takes a couple of hours to bring its level down. What it means in practical terms is to avoid books and movies with horror plots or loud and fast music near bedtime. Even long and engaging phone calls should be avoided. Also, avoid taking too much of fluids close to bedtime to avoid the need for getting up in the middle of the night for emptying the bladder.
However, a cup of hot milk or herbal tea close to bedtime facilitates sleep. After the drink, brush your teeth, wash your feet, empty the bladder, and settle down with a pleasant book, some soothing music, or peaceful TV programme. Some people find a warm water bath a helpful bedtime ritual. Among the yogic practices. Alternate nostril breathing promotes a particularly peaceful feeling which is a good preparation for falling asleep.
By now you might be cursing me for creating a romantic picture of the hour before bedtime. You might be thinking 'It is easy for him to write all this. What does he know of my life with two telephones ringing and a baby wailing simultaneously near bedtime'? The reason why this rather unrealistic picture has been painted is that unless we know the ideal. We cannot even move towards it. Secondly, if a person has genuine difficulty in falling asleep, he should be prepared to put in some efforts to create conditions conducive to sleep. Finally, for falling asleep, what matters more than any bedtime ritual is probably the combination of hard work and a clear conscience.