Sleep is the cheapest luxury that we can enjoy. But, this may not be true for all. How many of us truly enjoy a peaceful sleep? When was the last time you slept as peacefully as this baby….
More often, we tend to compromise on our sleep to complete some other so called ‘important’ work which could have been completed earlier during the day. This is so common to so many of us; be it a working professional, housewife, college student or school-going child.
But why has it so common across the across the age groups? This was not the case untill some years ago. A few reasons for this are –
- Stress: One of the main reasons for sleep-related problems or shorter sleep duration is the increasing stress in our day-to-day lives. Each one of us faces problems on the work front and in personal life. And, these days, stress is remotely associated with the age. Be it young school-going children or teens or adults, everyone is stressed for different reasons.
- Alcohol: Many individuals do indulge in alcoholic drinks. Heavy drinking (more than two drinks/ day) disturbs sleep habits.
- Caffeine: Consuming caffeine-containing beverages just before going to bed will indeed put us off sleep.
- Shift Work: This is the age of shift work. Individuals especially those working in the night shift, experience a 180º change in their sleeping pattern. They sleep during the day time and work during the night. This change in their sleeping pattern can affect their health.
Besides these reasons, people indulging in intense mental activity or exercise just before going to bed may also experience difficulty in sleeping. This is because such activities keep the mind alert and active making it difficult for the person to fall asleep.
What happens if we do not get adequate sleep?
The most obvious consequence of lack of sleep is that we are unable to efficiently perform the tasks on the subsequent morning. This is bound to hamper the quality of your work and adversely affects our productivity.
In addition to this, inadequate sleep has been linked to poor health as well. Inadequate sleep reduces our body’s ability to fight various diseases. Thus, those who are used to having poor sleep are more prone to different diseases and infections.
Evidence suggests that lack of sleep can lead to obesity and diabetes. People who sleep for less than 5 – 6 hours/day are 1.5 times more likely to become obese and have 2.5 times the risk of developing diabetes as compared to those who sleep for 7 – 8 hours/day. Poor sleep results in the release of hunger hormone, ghrelin. Therefore, those of you who sleep less and are awake during night hours tend to feel more hungry and might tend to binge on the available food.
Lesser duration or mistiming of sleep also increases the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Adequate sleep is essential for the smooth functioning of our heart and the blood vessels. Disturbances in the sleep can affect the functioning of the heart and lead to problems such as high blood pressure and stroke.
Recently, a study by Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States found that insufficient sleep was associated with problems of asthma and arthritis. Poor sleep habits can aggravate the pain experienced by patients with rheumatoid arthritis. It also adversely affects the lung function thus increasing the risk of attacks in patients with asthma.
How much sleep is adequate for me?
Every person’s sleep requirement varies. Usually, most of us are awake for 16 hours performing different activities. A minimum of 7 – 8 hours of sleep per day is the body’s requirement.
What should I do to sleep well?
A few simple tips can help you sleep well.
- Every morning, plan your activities for the day and make sure you follow them.
- Manage your time well. Prioritize your work. Plan your work as per the deadline. Avoid piling up work.
- Improve your lifestyle. Avoid smoking and drinking as much as possible.
- Avoid having tea/ coffee or any other caffeine-containing beverage before going to bed
- Exercise daily. Avoid exercising just before sleep. A walk will do no harm.
- Yoga and meditation can help rejuvenate your body and relieve stress.
- Avoid getting stressed for issues which are beyond your control. Understand that every problem has a solution. You just need to calmly think about it, you shall surely see the solution.
Sleep is an essential pre-requisite for a healthy body. Like you charge your cell phones before leaving home, similarly, your body gets ready for the following day’s activities and challenges during the sleep. So, sleep well and don’t deprive your body of the necessary charging.