According to a survey done by Phillips, 93% of Indians are sleep deprived getting less than 8 hours sleep per night. 11% take leave from work because of lack of sleep and 38% have witnessed their colleague falling asleep at the workplace.
After food and exercise, sleep is the third important pillar that is required for good health. A good night sleep keeps you fresh, active and more focused. Growth hormones are released during sleep that helps to repair the various cells in the body and helps to regenerate new cells.
Result of sleep deprivation:
- Of late the quantity of sleep has gone down even in children due to improper schedules, nutrient deficiency and lack of physical activity. This has resulted in restlessness, irritability, lack of concentration, fatigue.
- According to a 2004 study, people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours.
- Most people have experienced sallow skin and puffy eyes after a few nights of missed sleep. But it turns out that chronic sleep loss can lead to lackluster skin, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes
- The most common sleep disorder, insomnia, has the strongest link to depression. Insomnia and depression feed on each other. Sleep loss often aggravates the symptoms of depression, and depression can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
- A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2002 suggests that many men with sleep apnea also have low testosterone levels. Sleep specialists say that sleep-deprived men and women report lower libidos and less interest in sex.
- It can also lead to severe health problems like irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes and even secondary infections and gut related issues as the body’s immunity comes down.
- Studies show that sleep loss or poor quality sleep leads to accidents and injuries on the job.
- Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning. Sleep deprivation can impair alertness, attention, concentration, reasoning and problem solving.
Do’s and Don'ts of a good sleep
- Relax your mind - Stop working, prepare your bed, have a nice warm bath if possible with essential oil or fresh herbs, try meditation or some light breathing exercises to de-stress, listen to some nice soothing music, read some books are some of the ways to help falling asleep.
- Set electronic devices to ‘reduced light’ before sleeping - switch off laptop/phone/TV/any electronic items at least 30 min before going to bed. These electronic devices emit a white light which delays the sleep by suppressing Melatonin (hormone responsible for inducing sleep at night)
- Eat food that induces sleep - Carbohydrate foods like rice/banana triggers serotonin in the brain that induces sleepiness. However make sure that there is at least 2 hours gap before going to bed
- Set a regular bed time and a wake up time - Create a habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on days off and weekends. This helps anchor your body clock to these times.
- Don't take long afternoon naps - 20 to 30 minutes of nap in the afternoon actually gives a rest to your body and increases alertness. However sleeping for more than 30 minutes makes it difficult for you to fall asleep at night.
- Avoid vigorous exercises 3-4 hours before sleeping - jogging/swimming an hour or two before going to bed will lead to delay in sleep since they act as stimulants.
- Avoid eating heavy meals at night - Spicy or fatty foods may cause heartburn, which leads to difficulty in falling asleep and discomfort throughout the night.
- Avoid stimulants 3-4 hour before bedtime - Stimulants include caffeine, nicotine and some prescription and non-prescription drugs. So avoid sources of caffeine such as energy drinks, Red Bull, coffee, hot chocolate, Milo, cola drinks, non-herbal teas and chocolate bars close to your bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol 4-6 hours before bedtime - Alcohol is a depressant - it slows brain activity. It is also a diuretic, resulting in excess urination. Drinking is also more likely to lead to snoring, which can restrict airflow into the lungs.
Ayurvedic treatment for sleep disturbances:
- Nasyam treatment - two drops of pure cow ghee or sesame oil is added in the nose.
- Treatments like shirodhara for mild to moderate sleeplessness and shirovasti in severe insomnia are helpful
- Massaging with warm oil at the pressure points on the head, sole and calf muscles of the leg help to induce sleep.
If you have trouble falling asleep night after night, or if you always feel tired the next day, you might have a sleep disorder. It is advisable to seek more advice from a psychologist who treats sleep disorders, your doctor or a sleep specialist.