For a majority of us today, waking up on time every morning has become one of the biggest hurdles of our hectic lifestyle. Despite being aware that our bodies need at least seven to nine hours of sleep every day, many of us forego our precious hours of sleep by utilising the time to complete our ‘more important and urgent’ jobs, and give more importance to our deadlines rather than our vital need for sleep. It is important for us to realise that sleeping serves a protective as well as an adaptive function, as it helps us preserve our physical as well as mental energy, while at the same time repairing and restoring our bodies’ resources that have been depleted after the day’s toiling.
Lack of an adequate sleep could haveadverse impacts such as:
Stress: Inadequate sleep would inevitably lead to increase in the individual’s stress levels, due to the feeling of being weighed down with an overload and feeling the pressure of time in today’s hectic lifestyle.
Tiredness: When we do not sleep enough, we are likely to feel lethargic and drained out both physically as well as mentally.
Irritability: Individuals, who have inadequate sleep, usually tend to have lower levels of tolerance towards trivial triggers and end up getting more irritated.
Reduced alertness: Even if we are deprived of sleep for a day, we would feel less alert and find it difficult to focus on our work. The ability to attend as well as sustain our concentration is likely to reduce.
Irregular routine: A consistent lack of sleep would indirectly hamper our daily routine, thereby upsetting our eating, working schedules, etc.
Health problems: People who are being deprived of adequate sleep are at a greater risk of physical health problems such as headaches, hypertension, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Difficulty in maintaining work-life balance:When we are not getting enough sleep, we usually are not able perform optimally. We also feel less motivated to go to work. Moreover, an irregular sleep cycle could lead to difficulties in our work-life balance, leading to increased frustration, marital conflicts, reduced social time or even social isolation,Thereby spreading its impact into our personal lives as well. While the benefits of going early to bed and being early to rise have been a well known adage, studies have suggested some strategies for a good sleep hygiene, which can not only provide long-term solutions to sleep difficulties, but are also designed to enhance good sleeping habits.
DO NOT LAZE
We must develop the habit of getting out of the bed as soon as we are awake. Once we are awake, we should not lie on bed lazing around.
AVOID CAFFEINE, NICOTINE OR ALCOHOL
Substances such as caffeine (in coffee, tea, cola drinks, chocolate, etc) or nicotine (cigarettes) act as stimulants and interfere with the ability to fall asleep, hence should be avoided for at least four-six hours before going to bed.
BED IS MEANT TO SLEEP
Research has shown that we should go to the bed only when it is time to sleep, so that our body gets used to associating bed only to sleep. If the bed is used as a place to watch television, eat, read or work on the laptop, our body will not form this connection, and we might find our bodies remaining alert, notrecognising the association of bed with sleeping.
SAY NO TO ELECTRONICS
At least two hours prior to sleeping, we should switch off our mobile phones and television sets, and prefer reading a book or listening to relaxing music, as looking at these screens stimulate the brain cells, thereby increasing our alertness, instead of relaxing us.
Sleep is best obtained in a single and continuous block. Frequent naps during the day may hamper a restful night’s sleep.
Moreover, it is important to remember that it is not just the number of hours of sleep that should be adequate, but also the ‘time’ at which we sleep makes a difference to the amount of adequate sleep we get. Following a regular routine helps maintain our physical as well as psychological well-being, thereby improving our quality of life.