Sleep is a period of reduced consciousness, from which one can be easily aroused. For sleep to be satisfactory, the quality matters more than quantity. This quantity varies from person to person, with age and with activity. Sleep is restorative to both body and mind. A few days of sleeplessness will lead to irritability, cognitive disturbances, and sometimes even seizures.
Why do we need sleep ?
Physical health – A number of restorative hormonal changes occur during sleep every day. Imbalances in hormones such as Ghrelin and leptin can lead to a ravenous appetite and obesity in those who do not sleep well. Growth hormone released during deep sleep, repairs damaged cells and tissues. Further hormones that regulate inflammation and immunity are also adversely affected by the lack of sleep.
Mood and Cognition – With insufficient sleep, the activity and function of the brain changes in a way that one has difficulty making decisions, problem-solving, controlling emotions and coping with change. Remember how irritable you get when you haven’t slept well for a couple of days? There are definite reciprocal connections between sleep, depression, suicide and risk-taking behaviour.
Memory – better sleep well or you will be forgetful. During sleep, memory is consolidated to be stored in the longer term. The brain decides what to keep and what to discard. Sleeplessness leads to poor memory and poor cognition. This is why studying all night for exams and not sleeping enough does not make sense.
5 reasons why you do not sleep well
The hectic day is done, and I am ready to travel to the land of dreams. I lay on the bed and the clock starts ticking, there goes 10, and then 11 and then 12, 1 and you lose track of time. Then the birds wake up, and then the sun comes up and another day is born. Yet, I lay there with wondering ” why can’t I sleep “. Does this happen to you too?
Here are the top five reasons why this happens to you.
- You carry your plans and worries to bed. In this day and age, our lives are centred around solving problems. We constantly try to predict and solve problems all the time, be it about work or play or chores. Imagine sitting in bed with the brain working hard figuring out how to solve the worlds fuel crisis, you aren’t going to doze off, are you?
- You use the bed for other things but sleeping and sex. I want to sleep the instant I hit the bed, but I keep confusing my brain as to what I want to do. I eat on it, I read on it, I watch TV on it, sometimes I dance on it.
- Your brain is too stimulated by either coffee or cigarettes. Caffeine and nicotine are true stimulants and are designed to keep one awake. That cup of joe you had at 7 in the evening is probably what keeps you up at night.
- You do not exercise, ever! Exercise is a stress buster and an immune booster. In addition to its contribution to physical fitness, it improves mental health!
- Dinner is usually the heaviest meal of the day! You try to sleep as the body tries to metabolize all sorts of processed food. A light meal, preferably tryptophan-rich which help you fall asleep.
How do I improve my sleep
Congratulations on not ignoring your problems with sleep, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. Here are the top 5 things that can help you sleep like a baby.
- Try minimizing the time u spend sleepless on your bed. If you are trying to sleep and it isn’t working, get off the bed.
- Limit noise and light in the bedroom at night.
- Limit day time naps
- Set a regular bedtime and stick to it.
- Avoid engaging in stimulating activities such as watching TV or browsing at bedtime.
- Avoid coffee and cigarettes in the evening.
- Avoid regular use of alcohol.
- Put away your phone at-least an hour before you plan to fall asleep.
Regular physical exercise can be a magical cure to a number of physical and mental ailments. Exercise improves immunity and reduces stress and can be a great addition to your lifestyle. Looking good comes free with regular exercise. Avoid exercising too close to bed time though !
3)Keep your biological clock calibrated.
The human body runs on a clock that counts approximately 25 hours as a day, not the usual twenty-four. This clock is reset almost every day by exposure to light. If you weren’t resetting your clock daily, your circadian phase will gradually begin to delay, meaning the hormones that regulate sleep get released later, leading to a delay in sleep onset. Wake up and expose yourself to natural light as soon as possible! By waking up early despite a late bed time, you may be able to sleep earlier as well.
Find a way to keep yourself relaxed, exercise is an awesome way. It could be anything, yoga, meditation, prayer ! Be consistent.
5) Are there other things that are interfering with sleep? Deal with them.
Chronic pain, breathing difficulties, chronic snoring, restless legs, anxiety, depression and number of other treatable illness will have definite effects on sleep quality and quantity. Please seek help when appropriate! Your doctor may be able to prescribe medication or therapy that can help improve sleep quality, they might also help identify and treat other medical issues that may be leading to sleep disturbances.