An adequate amount of sleep plays an important role for your health. A good night’s sleep is essential for enriching your concentration, focus, memory, decision making abilities and even creativity.
On the other hand, deficiency of sleep is associated with an increased risk of diseases like heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Now a lot more people are suffering from sleep deprivation which is hampering their personal, professional and social life.
Getting good quality sleep often starts with good sleep practices and habits. However, for some people, that’s not enough. Those who are in need of a proper amount of sleep, personal discipline is the first step. However some people may need some outside help for doing so.
Importance of Sleep
As your phone requires charging, so does your body. A good night's sleep is like charging your body. Its importance is immense. It prepares you physically and mentally for the challenges you will face the next day.
- Good Sleep for Mental Health: From a psychological point of view a healthy sleep will keep you energized, concentrated and motivated. Your alertness and decision making capabilities also increase.
- How Does Sleep Affect your Heart Health? Sufficient amount of sleep helps to keep your blood pressure within normal limits which in turn reduces the risk of diseases like heart attack and stroke.
Can Sleep Increase your Athletic Performance? The answer is Yes!!! It enhances your muscle power and stamina. Injured cells and tissues heal during sleep. You tend to be more focused after a good night's sleep.
- Sleep for Weight Loss: It may sound strange but yes, an adequate amount of sleep helps you lose weight. This is due to hormonal and other factors. Inadequate sleep creates an imbalance between leptin and ghrelin secretion which results in weight gain.
How Does Sleep Affect Immunity? Some studies have shown that people who get inadequate sleep suffer from diseases like common cold more often than those who are having sufficient amounts of sleep. Lack of sleep also increases inflammation in your body and increases the risk of developing heart diseases, strokes etc.
- How Sleep Affects Mental Health? From a psychological point of view a healthy sleep will keep you energized, concentrated and motivated. Your alertness and decision making capabilities also increase.
There are many other health benefits like maintain weight, improve concentration & productivity, sharpens judgement and decision making process etc.
Stages of Sleep
- Stage 1: It is the lightest stage of sleep. It occurs just after you fall asleep and comprises 5% of your total sleep time.
- Stage 2: It makes up the highest percentage of your sleep time which is about 40-50%.
- Stage 3: This is the deepest sleep stage and comprises 20-30% of your total sleep time. It’s quite difficult to wake someone up from this stage. During this stage repair of damaged tissue and cell growth occur.
- Stage 4: You dream at this period. It is also known as REM sleep or Rapid Eye Movement sleep because the eyeballs move under the eyelids.
A complete sleep cycle takes about 90-110 minutes. When you sleep at night you pass through this cycle multiple times.
How Much Sleep is Adequate For A Person
According to recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation, you should aim to get the amounts of sleep listed below:
Hours of Sleep
65 years and up
18 to 64 years
7 to 9 hours
14 to 17 years
8 to 10 hours
6 to 13 years
9 to 11 hours
3 to 5 years
10 to 13 hours
1 to 2 years
11 to 14 hours
4 months to 11 months
12 to 15 hours
0 to 3 months
14 to 17 hours
Younger children have even greater sleep needs. Many kids will reach their sleep goals with the help of naps.
It is crucial to remember that these are only recommendations and that a person's actual sleep requirements might change depending on a variety of factors, including age, lifestyle, and general health.
Causes of Sleep Deprivation
Those who work at night shifts may experience sleep deprivation. Taking caffeine later at the day may also be a contributing factor.
If you are watching TV series or playing video games on your smartphone late at night you are missing out from having a healthy sleep.
There are some medical conditions which hamper your sleep cycle. For example sleep apnea is a condition where a person stops breathing during sleep and wakes up for a brief period just to breathe again. Frequent episodes like this prevents the person from having a healthy sleep.
Other medical conditions like insomnia, anxiety disorders and painful conditions also disrupt sleep.
Following are some symptoms of inadequate sleep:
- Inability to think clearly
- Poor concentration
- Weak memory
- Feeling tired throughout the day
- Poor or risky decision making
- Feeling of anxiety stress irritability
Treatments For A Healthy Sleep Routine
1. Lifestyle Modifications: First of all you need to develop good habits. Try to go to bed at a fixed time everyday. Do some physical exercises regularly.
2. Avoid caffeine intake late at day. Same thing goes for alcohol. Put down your smartphone or laptop one hour before sleep.
3. Sleeping pills can help you fall or stay asleep. But the downside effect is that these medications create dependency for the person which means without taking those medications you may have difficulties in falling asleep. Also these pills may cause daytime drowsiness and hamper your daytime activities.
4. CBT or talking to a therapist is also an option for sleep disorders like insomnia.
5. Natural supplements are available to aid sleep problems.
Natural Sleep Solutions
If you need a little extra help to get a good night’s sleep, consider trying the following natural sleep-promoting supplements.
Why do you sleep at night? It’s because a hormone called Melatonin tells you to. It is secreted by the pineal gland located in the brain.
Secretion of melatonin depends on light and darkness. When the sun sets and darkness arrives the amount of melatonin gets high and you feel sleepy.
When the sun rises, melatonin secretion gets low and we are up. This is how Melatonin plays a vital role in your sleep cycle and is called ‘sleep hormone’.
You can also buy melatonin supplements. They come in pills, liquids, and chewable. You might find them in natural or synthetic forms. The natural forms are made from the pineal gland in animals.
-> Dosage: 1-5 mg/day a few hours before sleep.
It is a tree which is native to China, Korea and Japan. The leaves are processed and used in supplements. stress reliever, increases circulation to your brain, helps in building memory, improves tinnitus.
-> Dosage: 60-240 mg/daily in 2-3 divided doses
But Pregnant, breastfeeding women, people using blood thinners should avoid this.
You can have a small treat before bed with the vegetarian passion fruit taste gummy vitamin, while also getting a restful night's sleep. The gummies provide a calming and relaxing impact in addition to acting as a natural sleep aid.
-> Dosage: As a dietary supplement you can take two (2) gummies once a day.
- Essential Oils: There are some essential oils like lavender, clary sage oil and sleep blends which show some evidence in treating sleep disorders.
The Bottom Line
A healthy high quality sleep is as important as having a balanced diet and regular exercises.
However, a lot of people struggle to fall asleep, wake up frequently, or don't feel refreshed when they awaken. This makes it difficult to keep your health and wellbeing at their best.
Various natural supplements and prescription pills are now available to solve sleep problems. But it is wise to go for lifestyle modification before taking these drugs. Try implementing healthy sleep habits into your routine such as avoiding using devices in your bedroom and consuming less caffeine before bed.