Sleep is one of the most fundamental pillars of human wellness.
Irrespective of age and gender, sleep remains to be one of the most crucial factors that determines several functionalities in the body.
Nevertheless, amid various professional and educational commitments, we see lack of sleep as one of the most crucial problems encountered by people, especially the millennials and the Gen-Z.
The long-term effects of sleep deprivation are real and often manifest into serious health problems later in life. Besides draining you mentally, it directly impacts normal body functions and leads to deteriorated physical health.
Here is a scientific explanation of how your sleep function and cycle works and how you can make basic amends in sleep hygiene for a deep and healthy sleep.
Importance Of Sleep Hygiene
Sleep is a crucial factor governing body repair and rejuvenation. During sleep hours, the body undergoes several functions that later accommodate into freshness and makes you feel energized when you wake up.
This explains the fact that lack of sleep affects reinvention of your body. You might have experienced tiredness and cranky feelings when you are deprived of quality sleep or might witness dizziness, morning sleepiness and grogginess when you fail to get a full night’s sleep.
This happens because lack of sleep creates hormonal imbalances that affect the body and mind negatively in both long and short term.
Failing to maintain sleep hygiene might interfere with your quality of sleep and may later grow into chronic diseases.
Maintaining sleep hygiene not only helps you fall into sleep more easily but also works to cut the risk of diseases that arise due to sleep deprivation. Hence it is imperative to maintain a clean sleep environment to get those restful hours of sleep.
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Causes of Sleep Deprivation
Experts identify that one of the main reasons for lack of sleep is the 21st century lifestyle.
The deep rooted lifestyle choices that naturally incline on gadgets and devices causing depression and distractions carry the risk of affecting sleep cycle and subsequently, body wellness.
It also makes you more vulnerable to lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension, hormonal imbalance and mental health issues .
It must be noted that melatonin, a hormone that is primarily released by the pineal gland is responsible for the sleep-wake cycle. It is vital to know that Melatonin is a ’light-sensitive’ hormone and is naturally associated with sleep inducing functions.
Since melatonin interacts with several other systems during sleep, any disturbance in the sleep cycle naturally affects other functions of the body. This primarily includes immune and digestive systems.
Exposure to mobile gadgets, laptops, television or any radioactive light hampers the release of Melatonin in the body. This reduces the possibility of getting sleep naturally. Hence, putting away your mobile phones is one of the first steps to ensure that you get proper sleep.
Any exposure to radio-active light post 7-8 PM effects melatonin induction in the body and thus affects your sleep. Hence, it is important to keep your distance from gadgets post this time and substitute it with habits like reading books, spending time with family or going on a walk.
Body accommodates sleep when it is physically tired or weak but mentally stable or active. Any mental stress, anxiety or hyper-activity does not accommodate sleep.
This should explain that emotional and mental states are crucial factors in determining both the quantity and quality of sleep. Besides, physical activity is also crucial for accommodating sleeping schedules.
Maintaining a relatively stable emotional state is very important to grab your sleep on time. Ensuring to avoid over-thinking or reiterating past or traumatic events in life might deter your sleep.
Just like your computer needs to shut all the applications before shutdown, human body needs to shut down its programmes while still keeping the subconscious mind active. If such state of mind is disturbed or exposed to stress, it directly affects sleep.
Having a daily practice of meditation or pranayama prior to sleep is a good habit that can accommodate your sleep and ensure quality and quantity of your sleep quota.
Another important factor that determines your sleep quality is your maintenance of ‘Sleep-Hygiene’. Sleep hygiene is a behavioral state of a person in maintaining his/her circadian rhythm. Following a fixed set of bedtime rituals is imperative to get sound sleep.
Having a warm bath just before your sleep time, changing to a comfortable sleepwear and ensuring your sleeping space is tidy and clutter free helps one fall asleep easily and more peacefully.
The circadian rhythm is an involuntary, natural process of the body that regulates sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. If you grab an hour of sleep during your day or post-meal, it naturally affects the rhythm and getting sleep at night hours might relatively turn out to be hard for some people.
Hence, if you are tired during the day or work hours, ensure you get a quick nap or power nap-a short span of sleep, preferably for 10-15 mins that can help you rejuvenate your body and mind. Contrarily, sleeping for more than an hour during the day might affect your sleep quality at night.
Hence, if you can avoid gadgets, maintain stable emotional and physical balance, and abstain from sleeping during day hours, you can possibly solve your sleep problems!
How much should be your sleep quota?
Experts suggest an ideal sleep time might include 7 hours of natural sleep. This might change according to needs and requirements. Nevertheless, human body does not always essentially require sleep but it needs to rest after indulging in strenuous activities.
There is a crucial difference between rest and sleep. A person, who is relatively calm and composed, with ability to deter stress and maintain state of emotional and physical balance, may require lesser sleep quota.
Hence, if you can maintain a calm, composed and relatively less stressful state of mind, you can reduce your sleep quota to 4 hours.
This explains that different people have different needs. For example, melatonin levels are highest in babies and hence, they require 14-18 hours of regular sleep. An adolescent may require anywhere close to 8-10 hours, and adults and young adults may need 4 hours to 7 hours depending on individual lifestyles.
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Adjusting to sensitivities
It is vital to note that different individuals have different habits that determine their sleep quota. For instance, a regular body-builder, an athlete or a sports enthusiast may need more sleep quota due to excessive physical activity.
On the other hand, a person who is preparing for competitive exams or a student who has a tight schedule in his/her semester may need 7-8 hours.
In some cases, it might be relatively hard to accommodate to such needs. This is especially true in case of professionals and workers who work in night-shifts.
In such cases, body completely shifts to an opposite biological clock, it is important for the individual to ensure the needs of the body are met with in time to take care of other elements that determine overall body and mind wellness. This includes maintaining healthy diet schedule, avoiding mental stress, and exercising regularly.
If you struggle to get away with late night work commitments, you must take care of other crucial aspects like sleep hygiene that play a role in governing the health of your body and mind to maintain stability and wellness in your life.