Sleep deprivation and sleep disorders can be associated with conditions such as hypertension, anxiety, diabetes, obesity, depression, and even heart disease. Setting up a sleep schedule, managing stress, a regular exercise regimen and eating healthy can help you sleep better and strengthen your immune system.
Not sleeping eight hours a day? That may be the reason for your dark circles, but it could also be affecting your immune system. Various studies have shown that sleep deprivation could be the reason that you are falling sick more frequently and for weakened immunity. It can also lead to other serious health conditions.
One study found out that long term sleep deprivation and sleep disorders can be associated with hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, and even heart attack. It has also been linked with Alzheimers. In India, sleep-related disorders are often under-reported and neglected. Researchers believe that there is a need to increase awareness around sleep disorders as the health implications are extremely serious.
How to sleep better
Most doctors recommend 7-8 hours of sleep per night for better health and overall well being. So, if you have trouble sleeping, here are some things that can help:
In India, sleep-related disorders are often under-reported and neglected. And, researchers believe that there is a need to increase awareness around sleep disorders as the health implications are extremely serious.
1. Set a sleep schedule
A lot of adults have trouble sleeping because of their erratic schedules. Modern worklife, which often requires people to be available to answer calls and emails at odd hours, is a big deterrent to setting up a sleep schedule. People find themselves sleeping at all sorts of hours over weekdays and waking up early, while sleeping and waking up late during weekends. One study found that those who have irregular sleeping patterns had poor quality sleep.
Sleeping up and waking at the same time everyday, as much as possible, helps better the quality of sleep, overtime. Bonus for keeping a sleep schedule: you might not even need an alarm to wake up. A regular sleep schedule helps in keeping your circadian rhythm in check. In simpler words your body clock will adjust to your sleep schedule and wake you up at a set time everyday without an alarm. Ditching that long afternoon siesta or taking a shorter nap instead is a good idea as well. Afternoon naps confuse the body and can make it harder to fall asleep on time during the night.
People find themselves sleeping at all sorts of hours over weekdays and waking up early, while sleeping and waking up late during weekends.
2. Managing stress
People with chronic stress and anxiety struggle with good quantity and quality sleep. While sleeping less can cause both physical and mental stress as the body is not well-rested, stress and anxiety can hamper a good night’s sleep. A 2018 survey done by Cigna TTK Health Insurance, reported that almost 89% of Indians said they were dealing with stress, higher than the global average of 86%. And, three-quarters of the respondents did not feel comfortable talking about their stress.
Experts say that people can try exercising, meditation, yoga, or other mindful activities to relieve stress, but there is also no shame in seeking help. A Professional can also help you rule out any sleep disorder. Curing stress and anxiety will go a long way in not just better sleep but over health and well being as well.
“A lot of people struggle with sleep. They wake up feeling restless, become irritable, are unable to focus, unable to concentrate. If you have been experiencing these symptoms for two-three weeks, then I would say it is time for you to seek professional help, or to reach out to a therapist or a psychiatrist,” says Michelle Manasseh, Bengaluru-based psychotherapist and adjunct faculty at Christ University.
A lot of people struggle with sleep. They wake up feeling restless, become irritable, are unable to focus, unable to concentrate. If you have been experiencing these symptoms for two-three weeks, then I would say it is time for you to seek professional help, or to reach out to a therapist or a psychiatrist
Working out is one of the best natural ways to get better sleep and boost your immunity. Sleep and exercise, in fact, have a bidirectional relationship, according to a study: If you sleep poorly, you will experience low physical activity levels. Another study showed that exercise improved sleep quality in middle-aged and older adults with sleep problems; the results were seen from both moderate intensity aerobic exercise or high intensity resistance exercise. Exercise helps people get more restorative sleep, and also increases deep sleep time, both of which help in building immunity. Although, it should be avoided too close to bed time, at least by an hour or two. Additionally, avoiding nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol, and eating a nutritional diet, will also help you get better quality sleep.
4. Light and sleep
There is a deep relationship between light and sleep. Human bodies become more alert and active in bright light, whereas darkness gives it a signal to rest. Therefore, being exposed to too much light during sleeping hours can confuse the body and make it harder to sleep. The levels of melatonin or the sleep hormone, produced in the brain, start to rise in the evening and peak at about 3 am; they are naturally lowered during the day. Artificial light in the evening can suppress the production of melatonin, hence, dim lights in the bedroom can help you go to sleep. A study showed that room light during bedtime has a profound suppressive effect on melatonin levels, and can shorten the duration of what the body believes is night duration. Even blue light from our phones or laptops can inhibit melatonin production.
Separately, if you are experiencing daytime fatigue, stomach or throat pain, loud and frequent snoring, discomfort, anxiety or depression, or an urge to keep moving your legs, these could be symptoms for sleep-related disorders. For these you must seek professional advice.
- Selective neuronal lapses precede human cognitive lapses following sleep deprivation. Nir, Y., Andrillon, T., Marmelshtein, A. et al. Nat Med 23, 1474–1480 (2017).
- Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research; Colten HR, Altevogt BM, editors. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2006.
- Reduced non–rapid eye movement sleep is associated with tau pathology in early Alzheimer’s disease.
- Circadian preference, sleep and daytime behaviour in adolescence. Flavia Giannotti Flavia Cortesi Teresa Sebastiani Salvatore Ottaviano
- Sleep-related disorders among a healthy population in South India. Samhita Panda, Arun B Taly, Sanjib Sinha, G Gururaj, N Girish, D Nagaraja
- The bidirectional relationship between exercise and sleep: Implications for exercise adherence and sleep improvement. Christopher E. Kline, Ph.D.
- Exercise training improves sleep quality in middle-aged and older adults with sleep problems: a systematic review. Yang PY, Ho KH, Chen HC, Chien MY.
- Exposure to Room Light before Bedtime Suppresses Melatonin Onset and Shortens Melatonin Duration in Humans. Joshua J. Gooley, Kyle Chamberlain, Kurt A. Smith, Sat Bir S. Khalsa, Shantha M.W. Rajaratnam, Eliza Van Ren, Jamie M Zeitzer, Charles A. Czeisler, and Steven W. Lockley.
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