• Deanne Panday

Importance Of Sleep

Most of our physiologic systems are influenced by the amount of sleep we get. It affects our thermoregulation, endocrine functioning, immune, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems as well as our weight. That’s how closely Sleep and health are related. Today, it seems as if the entire population is bearing the pains of inadequate sleep. We know how every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Similarly, improper sleep can lead to decreased brain function, hormonal imbalances, increased risk of heart disease, abnormal growth and development, decreased productivity and performance, fertility issues, poor immune and insulin responses, and an increased risk of accidents because of poor nervous reactions. That’s why It is important to understand why we require sleep and what happens when we don’t receive that amount of sleep.

Why do we require sleep? How does lack of sleep affect our body?

It is a common notion that when we sleep, our body shuts down. But it is not quite so. Sleep is an active process even if you are not moving and interacting. This is when the real work of your body begins- work like repair, recovery, strength building, growth and defence. These functions are crucial for the optimal wellbeing of your body. When you sleep, a series of functions takes place within your body. It begins with the activation of your pituitary gland. This triggers the release HGH (Human growth hormone) which then leads to the repair and recovery of your joints and muscles. Along with this, oxygen is supplied to your muscles which further leads to the breakdown of lactic acid in your body. Moreover while your body rests in an inactive state, blood supply increases, metabolism improves and energy is supplied to your brain as well as your body. Without all these functions, it is not possible for your body work efficiently.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your brain craves for food as the hormone regulating your hunger becomes unbalanced. Sleep deprivation also causes lack of motivation for mental and physical activities. This way your caloric intake increases and expenditure decreases, adding up to problems of weight gain. It further causes an imbalance in blood sugar levels and disturbs your metabolism. There is only a downward spiral to poor health after this.

How to get quality sleep?

Stress and Electronic devices are the main causes behind poor sleep quality. Exposure to blue light disrupts your melatonin production as well. In order to get sound sleep, begin with consistent sleep cycles. Wake up and go to bed at the same time. Develop a healthy sleep routine i.e fixed hours of sleep. Incorporate some relaxing activities before sleeping- Meditate, Read a book or Listening to calming music. Physical activities also help in getting sound sleep at the end of a hectic day. Reduce caffeine intake. Try waiting to enjoy that first jolt of java until 9 a.m. Having caffeine before that time frame can disrupt the body’s normal cortisol rhythm and disrupt sleep later on. Limit your Alcohol intake in the latter half of the day as it is a depressant, thus disrupting your sleep cycle. When you understand your sleep habits better and the amount of quality sleep you get each night improves, and you can begin to alter your habits and enhance your sleep and overall health. If you’re having trouble sleep at night, try drinking chamomile tea or apply lavender oil before sleeping. Practicing the corpse pose before sleeping helps in improving your sleep cycle too.

15th March is celebrated as World Sleep Day as a reminder of How important it is to get a Good Night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation can wreck havoc on your hormones, disrupt your normal body functioning and hike up your cortisol levels. Thus, Getting 7-9 hours of sleep everyday is crucial for your brain and body.

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