Don’t let lack of sleep derail your health

People often report insufficient sleep and daytime fatigue these days. The World Sleep Day on March 17th annually raises awareness about the dangers of inadequate sleep.

Last Updated on September 11, 2023 by Aditi Gangal

Mayank, who works a 9-5 job, stays up until 1 am to study, as he is determined to succeed in life. Aparajita and Sameer, a married couple living in different cities due to their professions, chat with each other late into the night. Mr Mehta, a 55-year-old, is unable to sleep early due to his anxiety over his daughter’s upcoming marriage. Tuhina, a teenager, remains active on social media on her mobile phone until late hours. Although these names are fictional, they share a common problem: none of them are able to get a full night’s sleep.

The World Sleep Day is observed on March 17 every year to make people aware about the risks that are associated with having inadequate sleep. This year, the theme of the day was ‘sleep is essential for good health’., a D2C sleep and home solutions provider, released the fifth edition of the Great Indian Sleep Scorecard (GISS) 2022 last year. According to it, 59 percent of India’s population go to sleep after 11 pm. This is an alarming trend since experts believe that adults should call it a day between 10 and 11 pm. 

Why are people losing their night’s sleep?

Use of electronic gadgets in the night and everyday pressure in life disrupt our sleep. The problem differs for people according to their age and sex, say reports. According to the Apple Heart and Movement study conducted by Apple and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, only 31 percent of 420,000 Apple users sleep for a minimum of seven hours in the night. The study also said that most people get a sleep of six-and-half hours. 

Thirty-six per cent of people say that they do not get a proper sleep at night because of using electronic gadgets before going to bed. Earlier, 92 per cent of people engaged in scrolling social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp etc. on their smartphones before sleeping. It has now come down to 88 per cent but still is a matter of concern. 

The reality is that unorganised lifestyles and growing use of electronic products has disturbed people’s sleeping cycle. If a child studies in the morning, then he/she becomes active on social media in the night because of FOMO — fear of missing out and being left behind by friends. A housewife, who is busy with her household chores in the morning, also sacrifices the sleep time to get updated on social media. For the working women, the pressure is even more. Besides, outside noise also prevents people from having a sound sleep. 

High chances of meeting adverse consequences

According to a study, insufficient sleep at night can result in several negative effects. These effects include drowsy eyes and a heaviness in the head. Moreover, it increases the risk of developing serious ailments. Such ailments may include high blood pressure, depression, obesity, diabetes, as well as conditions related to the heart and kidneys. While these adverse health conditions can develop in the long run, there can also be other faster impacts caused by lack of sleep. These include irritability, laziness, lack of concentration at work, getting upset over small things, low professional performance, among others.

Lack of proper sleep also leaves our brain tired and as a result of which, there are high chances of facing untoward consequences while driving or carrying out any technical work. European Heart Journal – Open has warned in a study that people who sleep less than five hours in the night can have 52 percent higher chances of getting heart attacks. Those who sleep less than five hours can find themselves at the risk of PAD or peripheral artery disease. It is a condition in which arteries that carry blood from the heart to the legs either shrink or stop working, causing a disruption in the flow of blood.

Sleep is as important for a healthy life, just like eating, breathing and drinking water. It is a basic necessity which heals our bodies internally. It is not that we need luxurious mattresses to have a sound sleep, as it is advertised often. If we do not feel sleepy, then even a golden bed would be of no use. We need to ensure that the necessities are fulfilled for us to get a sound sleep. 

To get a proper sleep, we need to prepare ourselves and one of the steps is not to use the smartphone immediately before going to bed. The blue rays that emanate from the device can ruin the sleep in our eyes. This affects melatonin hormone, which our brain produces in response to darkness, and hampers the timing of the circadian rhythms – the 24-hour clock in our body. 

The relation between bedroom and sleep

Many people try to improve the place where they sleep in order to eliminate the habits that disrupt our sleep. For example, they get good-quality pillow, mattresses and bed sheets as they believe that those will help in having a good sleep, as it is shown in advertisements. According to one report, 50 percent of youth between 18 and 24 years of age feel the ambience in their bedroom affects the quality of their sleep while 40 percent of the same age group say they do not have a good place to sleep. 

For the elderly, however, the scenario is different. Only 18 percent of them are of the opinion that their sleep is influenced by the ambience of their bedroom. Eighty per cent of those aged below 18 do not feel fresh despite having an adequate place to sleep. 

Statistics say that 31 percent of women and 23 percent of men have fear of insomnia because of wrong sleeping habits. Fifty per cent of those below 18 complain about inadequate sleep while 44 per cent believe that they may have a good night’s sleep if they get a comfortable mattress. One must admit that changes in people’s working style post Covid-19 pandemic have left a positive impact. 

The importance of self-discipline

Taking naps during the day can improve our brain’s capacity and memory. However, the onus lies on us to make efforts to include these habits a part of our daily lifestyle. Also, the belief that the lack of sleep in the night can be compensated by sleeping late into the day is not right since it disturbs our biological clock. 

To have a good night’s sleep, we can try to read a good piece of literature before retiring for the day. But we should read from books and not online. It is also helpful to clean our hands, legs and face before sleeping and the bed where we sleep. We should not have a heavy dinner and walk for a while before retiring to bed. If you are a working individual, then it is advisable to wrap up your work on time because staying awake till late can not only affect your performance but also make you vulnerable to diseases. These are some general tips that can help us in having a sound sleep. But these can be implemented only if we understand the importance of proper sleep.

Remember, if you are struggling with sleeping troubles for an extended period, consult a doctor immediately.

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