”Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”
~ Thomas Dekker
Sleep: the important pillar of health is forgotten by many of us…. constantly tired, puffy eyes and hands holding a cup loaded with caffeine is a common picture of this modern era. Sleep form around one- third of human life, so the shut-eye must be doing some restoration work which improves brain and body health.
What is Circadian rhythm;
it is 24 -hrs biological clock which regulate our sleeping pattern along with other vital functions like feeding , hormones production and body temperature. Normally this rhythm rises in morning time causes wakefullness and alertness, with the onset of darkness it dropped down to the lowest level and helps in sleeping.
Impact of sleep deprivation on our health;
Good sleep is as important as eating a healthy diet. Our body needs good sleep for maintaining brain health, mood stabilization and to fight against diseases. The cost of sacrificing sleep is very high, lack of sleep and disturbed sleep pattern are linked with health issues like obesity, depression, increased risk of diabetes and hypertension. Sleep deficiency does have a negative impact on work performance.
- Sleep deprivation and Physical health; there is a growing body of evidence that sleep deprivation is associated with hypertension, coronary heart diseases (CHD), and diabetes mellitus(DM). Increased sympathetic nervous system activity is considered to serve as common pathophysiology in sleep deprivation’s relationships with these diseases.
- Poor sleep and Obesity; The majority of studies found positive association between short sleep (<6 hrs/night) and obesity. Sleep deprivation is associated with altered metabolic and endocrine mechanism resulting in increased appetite and late-night cravings. Moreover, insufficient sleep makes you tired and less active, over time reduced physical activity may cause weight gain and obesity.
- Poor sleep and Depression; Lack of sleep or disturbed sleep pattern has a direct link with psychological issues like depression and anxiety and suicide. Sleep deprivation causes decreased production of serotonin, a mood regulator chemical produced by our brain. Reduced level of serotonin causes depression and anxiety.
- Poor sleep and work life: Short duration sleep may have a negative impact on a person’s work life. Poor sleep can impair people creative capacities and reduces motivation to learn and generate new ideas.
How much sleep do we really need?
Although there is no perfect sleep number to fit each individual, National sleep foundation published a report updating sleep recommendation for all ages.
How to imrove sleep hygiene ;
- Food and drink; Avoid eating foods that are spicy and fatty as they are tough for the stomach and may disturb sleep. Timing of meal is also an important factor for having a good sleep. Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeine before going to bed.
- Day light exposure; it is reported by some studies that daylight helps keep our circadian rhythm healthy.
- Regular physical activity; According to National sleep foundation, people who exercise regularly have better sleep than those who do not. Some other studies suggested that exercise increases body temperature and increases production of Adenosine a chemical which causes drowsiness and improves circadian rhythm.
- Maintaining good sleeping habits; Avoid day time sleep, stop using elecronic gadgets (cell phones, laptops, tv) 30 minutes before going to bed. Smartphone light distrub production of Melatonin a chemical produced by our brain, which plays a vital role in regulating sleep-wake cycles.
- Make a regular sleep cycle: Regular sleep pattern may also help in improving sleep quality and duration. Waking up and going to the bed at the same times each day improves our wakeup/sleep cycle.
- Bedroom environment; Minimize noises, external light exposure. Try to make your sleeping environment quiet, relaxing and clean.
- Clear your mind before going to bed; Several relaxing techniques like meditation, reading a book and relaxing massage may improve sleep quality and duration.
Take-home message ;
Sleep is the third pillar of a healthy life and good sleep is important for our physical and mental health. Everyone has occasional disturbed sleep but if you are struggling with lack of sleep for prolong period, contact your doctor for identifying and treating any underlying cause.
”Happiness in simplicity can be achieved with a flexible mindset and nine hours of sleep each night.” – Dalai Lama