Lack Of Sleep Can Make You Sick; Tips To Get Better Night's Rest

Lack Of Sleep Can Make You Sick; Tips To Get Better Night's Rest
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Is your lack of sleep becoming a disruption in your daily life? If yes, then you should address the problem as sleeplessness could trigger many health problems.

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : March 21, 2022 10:40 AM IST

Sleep is a physiological state of rest with reduced consciousness and a temporary disconnect from the outer world. The organs maintain optimum functions during sleep and brain cells undergo special functions of sorting out their activities. Proper sleep at night ensures effective engagement during the day.

According to the American Association of Sleep Medicine, an adult undergoes a cyclical rhythm of sleep called NREM - Non-rapid Eye Movement and REM - Rapid Eye Movement sleep.

Importance Of Sleep

REM sleep occurs 90 minutes after NREM and is less in duration during the early part of the night. This slowly becomes longer during the later part in the early morning hours. REM sleep helps in sorting out and digesting the sensory impressions and information perceived during the day.

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NREM sleep occurs in three stages going from light sleep to deep sleep. It is during this phase that growth, repair and rejuvenation of tissues take place.

Children are open sensory beings and take in a lot of sensory impressions. They need to sleep for a longer duration and get adequate sleep cycles with longer REM phases. This helps them in digesting various sensory impressions to create more space for fresh inputs.

Babies in the first few months sleep for 16 to 18 hours. This favours transitions, adaptations, rapid growth and development of the child. The duration of sleep reduces to 9-10 hours per night until the teenage years. Then it further gets reduced to an average of 6-8 hours for adults. As one gets older, the sleep duration becomes shorter. So as one age, the quality of sleep matters to maintain a good connection with the inner and the outer world. Quality in sleep comes from the cyclical rhythm of the REM phase, which occurs only after deep sleep.

Benefits Of Good Quality Sleep

  • Growth hormone is secreted during deep NREM sleep. This is essential and serves in growth and development during the early phases of life and later helps in repair and rejuvenation
  • The brain processes the day's information and consolidates the data and stores them in long-term memory. So, good quality sleep helps one to have the right amount of memory storage
  • The immune system releases a certain protein called cytokines during sleep, which helps in healing injured tissues
  • There is a conservation of energy with optimum functioning of all organs

Effects Of Sleeplessness

  • Less growth hormone reduces vitality in the cells
  • Cortisol, a stress hormone is secreted less during sleep. This gets disturbed and levels of this stress hormone become high which leads to impaired glucose metabolism and increased insulin resistance
  • Inadequate sleep reduces the cognitive capacity of an individual and thereby the work efficiency
  • The immune system gets compromised if one does not get adequate sleep
  • Sleeplessness triggers the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, leading to physiological responses such as fights and quarrels unreasonably. This increases the heart rate, blood pressure and brings down the heart's efficiency

Tips To Have A Good Night's Sleep

Physical level: Balanced nutrition, early dinner by 7 PM, adequate physical activities and routine sleep time. Avoid stimulants such as coffee or tea before bedtime.

Emotional level: Healthy expressions of emotions through art and craft help free emotional baggage. Before going to sleep, take stock of the day - reviewing the day objectively as a third person going through events from start till the end of the day.

Mental level: Avoid media inputs and mind stimulating activities after 8 PM. Light reading, listening to soothing music, preferably instrumental helps to unwind from the day.

Yoga Nidra, if done regularly, helps in improving the quality of sleep. Breathing exercises with a focus on exhalation strengthen the parasympathetic nervous system activity, which is rest and relaxation, thereby facilitating better sleep quality.

For those who have difficulty falling asleep despite a good lifestyle, external therapy such as gentle foot massages with lavender oil and warm foot baths before retiring to bed will help in getting better sleep.

It is not the quantity of sleep that matters but the quality of sleep which helps in maintaining health.

(The article is contributed by Dr Karthiyayini Mahadevan, Head, Wellness and Wellbeing at Columbia Pacific Communities)

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