Last Updated on September 3, 2021 by The Health Master
One of the most commonly uttered phrases in our generation is ‘I barely slept last night’. One may not keep a track of their sleep schedule, but getting enough shut-eye is critical to health.
Erratic and improper sleep patterns can prove to be detrimental to life, and impacts work and personal life; therefore it is important to change one’s sleep routine before it drastically affects the body.
Akin to food and water, sleep is a necessity. It affects everything from weight and immunity to brain function and mood. Nagendla Varun Raju, a wellness coach says, “Sleep helps in recovery and regeneration of body cells.
When there is less sleep the body cannot repair damaged cells, thus making you feel low on energy and vitality. Lack of sleep causes hair fall, affects digestion and makes you feel lethargic the next day. It also disturbs the biological clock and as a result, the biorhythms are imbalanced.”
Nagendla Varun Raju goes on to say that it is important to understand the average hours of sleep required for a person according to their age. “The National Sleep Foundation of USA has set average hours of sleep and it is important to follow it accordingly. While a newborn requires 14-17 hours, toddlers need 10-13 hours of sleep. Teenagers require eight-10 hours and adults seven-eight hours,” he says.
In today’s rat race, it might seem more pertinent to prioritise other activities over sleep. But lack of sleep could lead to excessive stress, anxiety, and after prolonged periods, sleep disorders too. Sleep is one of the most important factors in our overall health.
Dr Jagadeesh Kumar V, consultant physician, diabetologist and lifestyle science specialist at AIG Hospitals, Hyderabad, says, “Lack of sleep, also known as sleep deprivation, could lead to many health issues. When we are asleep, the body goes into a resting phase and a good amount of rest helps the body perform at full capacity the next day.
If not well-rested, it could lead to irritability, less focus, shift in appetite and also aging of the skin causing puffy eyes, fine lines and dark circles.”
Lack of sleep can also cause brain fog, which leads to low concentration, slowed thinking, reduced attention span, decreased functional capacity and quality of life, poor performance at work, and decreased work efficiency. When a person deprives their body of sleep for a long period, it could lead to chronic health issues, he says.
To induce a longer period of sleep, one needs to take steps to clear their mind and relax. Millin Sangha Gujral, a counselling psychologist, says a good sleep routine can be formed by having a particular and consistent sleep schedule. Also, avoiding caffeine, alcohol and nicotine after 6 pm can help a great deal.
Screen time before sleeping should be reduced too, as it activates parts of our brain, thus making us less sleepy. She further adds that before going to bed, one can listen to calming music and use essential oils such as lavender to enhance relaxation. “Aromatherapy enhances the mood and creates a calming environment,” says Millin.
Another key factor is using a comfortable mattress and pillows. “Researchers say cooler temperatures help enhance sleep, so using the right materials according to the season is important. Breathable sheets and blankets support balanced body temperature and can be used while sleeping.” Finally, it is important to keep the bedroom a work-free zone and de-clutter it as visual clutter generates stress.