SLEEP BECOMING A GLOBAL CHALLENGE
There are various researches being conducted on sleep and sleep quality across the world. There are many different types of studies which have been done across age groups, categories and races. Without getting into too many of these details, the following are the common conclusions which have been reached:
- The average amount of time people sleep is reducing every decade. People were sleeping on an average eight to nine hours a day, a couple of decades ago. This has now come down to an average of seven hours and in many cases, it is less than seven hours.
- Late sleeping is the major culprit. With access to televisions, electronic media and the internet, people are sleeping later. This is across categories.
- Working long hours and traveling for work leads to sleeping shorter hours.
- Resting or taking a nap in the afternoon is essential for rest and health. This is a casualty in the modern world as anyone who rests in the afternoon is branded as lazy. Plus we have made an insular morning to evening work culture which hampers sleep.
- Sleep quality is another problems with a large chunk of the population not getting sound sleep. Not having sound sleep does not mean having dreams. Dreams are a mechanism to allow us to function properly and prevent us from going mad. Sound sleep means uninterrupted sleep or sleep where the breathing is normal. An increasing number of people are getting problems like intermittent sleep, getting up frequently at night and sleep apnea.
WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF INCORRECT SLEEP?
One may well ask what is the importance of sleep. This is especially when less sleep and more work is glorified in today’s life especially, in corporate cultures across the world. People seem to be taking pride in not sleeping or sleeping very less and think it is a virtue. However, this is the biggest sin one can inflict on one’s self. The following are the reasons why adequate and restful sleep is required:
- The time of the day and the production of hormones are correlated. When rest and sleep hormones are released after sunset and we remain awake, it impairs health. Similarly , activity related hormones start getting secreted before sunrise. That is the time to take advantage of the same.
- When we sleep, there are are rest and recovery hormones which are released and require time to do their work. Seven to nine hours is the suggested duration based on the individual. If we cut short this process, rejuvenation of cells and repair of the body is impacted causing faster ageing.
- A deep and restful sleep enables healthy enactment of dreams which is essential for mental health.
- Lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep has been linked to many diseases.
- Weight gain or not achieving weight loss is one of the major outcomes of poor sleep.
CAUSES OF POOR SLEEP
There are many causes of poor sleep and some of the key ones can be summarized below:
- Staying awake beyond 10.00 p.m.
- Getting up late.
- Working for long hours or for irregular hours
- Lack of hobbies and recreation
- Lack of exercise
- Eating heavy foods and eating late at night.
However, all of these are easily fixed. Let us look at the solutions to better sleep without resorting to medications or machines:
STEPS TO IMPROVE SLEEP QUALITY
Sleep can be managed well with the following:
- Sleep early, preferably by 10.00 p.m. When you do this, you will find you automatically get up early.
- Avoid watching television, playing online games or being on the internet at least fifteen minutes prior to bed time. Sleep is also an activity which requires preparation. So prepare to sleep.
- There should be a gap of at least two to three hours between bed time and your last major meal. If you are very hungry you may have a small fruit or a cup of milk before going to bed.
- Practice the following pranayama daily on your bed and then drop off to sleep.