“The day has just begun and I’m already feeling too tired to go to work!” or “I don’t know why, but I always wake up foggy-brained in the morning!” Does this sound like you? If yes, you need to seriously rethink your sleep pattern.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends every adult to get at least an 8-hour sleep every night. The sad news is that not even half of us are actually getting that. In fact, a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that around 33% of working Americans spend 6 hours or less in bed every night.
Why is adequate amount of sleep so important?
Almost each one of us knows how important it is to have a good night’s sleep. On the rare occasions that we do sleep soundly, we feel all recharged and ready to conquer the world the next day. It is a proven fact that our body and mind function better when they are well-rested.
Despite this, most of us are not getting enough sleep, thanks to our crazy work schedules, stress and fast-paced lifestyles. Worse, we are not even realizing that we are spending a major chunk of our lives in an under-slept state!
And that is a dangerous thing as many researchers have linked sleep deficiency to an increased mortality risk. Here we are enlisting 6 good reasons why you SHOULD be getting that clichéd 8-hour sleep every night:
Lack of sleep is often linked to weight gain. Various studies have shown that one of the causes of sharp rise in obesity in young adults in developed economies is insufficient and irregular sleep patterns. This is because poor sleep affects hormones that regulate appetite, causing sleep deprived people to eat more.
A deep slumber at night often translates into a super productive day at office the next day. A good sleep improves our concentration power and increases overall productivity.
You may have noticed that when you don’t sleep properly, you usually end up having a crappy day at gym too. This is because a well rested body enhances our athletic performance while a poorly rested one restricts it.
If you want to have a healthy and happy heart– well, just sleep soundly! Again, studies have linked higher risk of heart diseases and strokes to people who sleep less than 7-8 hours daily.
Do you fall ill too often? Or are you catching colds too frequently? Lack of adequate sleep could be one of the reasons behind it. Sleep is known to boost our immune system too, so getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily will increase your immunity and help your body fight off infections.
Sleeping disorders are also responsible for mental health issues like depression and reluctance to interact socially. Stress has become a permanent fixture in our day-to-day lives and an effective way to combat it is through a sound and peaceful sleep.
I can’t seem to fall asleep! What should I do?
Before we tell you what you should do to improve your sleep, let us first talk about the different sleep stages. Sleep can be broadly classified into two categories:
Non-REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep or ‘quiet sleep’– This sleep begins when you lie down and close your eyes. Slowly, your body starts to relax, your heart rate slows and you are ready to fall into a deep slumber. This type of sleep is classified into 4 stages- each stage lasting between 5 to 15 minutes- beginning with the stage when you drift off to sleep and ending at the stage when you are finally falling into a deep sleep.
REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep or ‘active sleep’– This is the deepest form of sleep that rejuvenates our mind for the next day. Most of our dreams, especially the most vivid ones, occur during the REM stage of sleep. REM sleep is very important because it stimulates that area of your brain which is crucial for your mental and overall growth.
Now let us talk about some people’s inability to fall asleep. As more and more economies are moving towards urbanization, an increasing number of people have started facing sleep problems. Most resort to sleeping pills, while some toss and turn at nights hoping to find that elusive sleep. Here are a few tips you can use to improve your sleep quality and quantity:
- Say NO to gadgets at night– When you surround yourself with screens at night, the blue light emanating from them tells your body it is still day-time! So if you really want to go to sleep, put away all your gadgets and dim the lights of your room. This will give your brain the signal that it is time for bed.
- Go for super dark curtains– If you live in a part of the city that is always alive and bustling, no matter what time of the day (or night!) it is, consider buying super dark, thick curtains for your room that will block most of the light and sound coming from outside.
- Try reading before going to bed– This tip really works for a lot of people. If you’re having trouble sleeping, just lay your hands on a good book and go to bed when you finally start feeling drowsy.
- Meditation– This is another technique that calms your mind and proves to be very effective in getting a good night’s sleep.
- Limit your caffeine/ alcohol intake– Drinking coffee at night is never a good idea as the caffeine interferes with your body’s internal clock and keeps you awake. Alcohol, on the other hand, is a sedative that might put you to sleep, but remember that that sleep is not naturalistic and you’ll most probably wake up groggy brained the next day. That is because alcohol is capable of blocking your deepest sleep – the REM sleep.
A Common Myth: Body’s need for sleep diminishes with age
It is a common myth that our body’s sleep requirements decline as we age. This is so not true! Our body needs the same amount of sleep, whether we are 80 or 30. It is just that an old person is unable to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep at a stretch. So the quality of sleep might deteriorate as you age, but the quantity of sleep should not.
If I oversleep on weekends, will it make up for the sleep I lost during the week?
A straightforward answer to this question is NO! Lost sleep is, well, just —lost! You cannot make up for it by sleeping extra hours at some later date. Sleep doesn’t work like a bank, so you can’t accumulate a sleep debt and then try and pay it off at a later point in time.
We hope this article helped you understand your sleep better and hopefully, will also help you in resolving your sleep problems. Please share your valuable comments with us in the comments section below!