Are you unable to sleep or always up at 2 A.M.? Or do you end up scrolling social media feeds in the middle of the night? You are not alone. Over 93% of urban Indians are sleep deprived.
Usually, individuals with narcolepsy have a fragmented sleep cycle. But, with coronavirus eruption and lockdown going on, the sleep cycle of most people is completely disrupted. Many people these days are facing a lot of sleep problems, and a few might even be taking sleep medicines such as antidepressants that help get sleep. Well, this blog will answer few significant questions related to sleep.
What are the Impacts of Sleep Deprivation?
Scientists say that having a good night's sleep is very important for health. It is as essential as food and water. When you are asleep, your body replenishes and repairs itself, both physically and mentally. It helps to survive and thrive.
Did you wake up the next day feeling exhausted? that means you didn't get enough deep sleep and end up feeling sleepiness all day long. Below mentioned are some side effects of sleep deprivation and sleep disorder:
- Impaired memory
- Irritated mood or mood swings
- Always feel tried
- Diminishing immunity
- Trouble in concentrating
- Distractions that may even lead to accidents
- Sudden weight gain
- Increase in health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure
- Risk of heart diseases
- It can lead to sleepwalking and sleep apnea
- It can also lead to early aging
Different Stages of Sleep
There are usually four stages of sleep. The first two consist of light sleep, and the following two consist of deep sleep. A sleep cycle can be broken down into two main categories: NREM stage (nonrapid eye movement sleep) or non-rem sleep and REM stage (rapid eye movement sleep.)
NREM stage makes up to 75 to 80 percent of the time that you're asleep. Most adults enter into a sleep from an exhausted state via the NREM stage. There are four stages in it, and those are:
In this stage, you drift from wakefulness to being asleep. This is a very light NREM sleep that doesn't last very long. You might feel relaxed and dream but might also twitch, as thousands of neurons in your brain will be transitioning to stage 2.
This is still a light sleep, but you are moving into a steadier sleep. Here, your heartbeat and breathing will slow down, and your muscles will start relaxing. Your body temperature will decrease slowly, and your brain activity will be the least at this time.
Stage 3 and 4
In stage 3, you will enter into a deep sleep and deepest in stage 4. Your body temperature, heartbeat, breathing, and brain waves will reach to its lowest levels and become delta waves during deep sleep. All your muscles will be extremely relaxed, and it will be most difficult to rouse. This period of sleep is also known as slow-wave sleep.
Usually, stage 4 is known as the healing stage. Here the tissue growth and repair take place. All the essential hormones are released to do their job and help to gain cellular energy.
The first REM cycle begins about 90 minutes after falling asleep, which recurs every 90 minutes. According to sleep studies, your eyes will roll around quickly behind your eyelids, and the brain waves will look similar to those of someone awake. Your breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate will rise to a near-waking stage.
REM sleep is often said to be stage 5 of sleep. Here, you are most likely to dream. Your arms and legs paralyze temporarily during this stage to prevent you from physically acting out of your dream.
How much Deep Sleep is Normal?
In a healthy adult, about 13 to 23 percent of the sleep is deep sleep. So, if your total sleep time is 8 hours, then that is roughly 62 to 110 minutes. However, when people start to age, they require less deep sleep. While you are in a deep sleep, a lot of functions take place in your mind and body, such as:
- Memory consolidation
- Processing of emotions
- Physical recovery happens
- Metabolism and blood sugar levels are balanced
- The immune system is energized
- Brain detoxifies
Without deep sleep, these crucial functions don't occur and will finally lead you to sleep deprivation.
Nevertheless, there is nothing such as too much deep sleep if you think that will make your day!
REM Sleep: There is no official consensus about how much REM sleep you should get, but dreaming happens during the REM sleep stage. Experts say that dreams help to process your emotions and solidify your memories.
Most adults have 20 to 25 percent of REM sleep. This is considered to be healthy in an average sleep cycle.
Deep Sleep: Sleep scientists believe that light sleeping is good, but there is no minimum to strive for. Light sleep is a default stage of sleep, one that is nearly impossible to avoid.
However, too much sleeping regularly may lead to obesity, depression, lead to heart diseases and even increase the risk of death.
Requirement of Deep Sleep
A human being needs all the stages of sleep. Deep sleep is necessary to lead a healthy life and to function correctly. While in a deep sleep, the brain creates and store new memories and improves its ability to collect and recall information.
Deep sleep helps the brain to rest and recover for the next day's thinking. Sleep allows the brain to replenish the energy in the form of glucose for the next day. This metabolism supports short-term and long-term memory.
Nevertheless, deep sleep helps in keeping the hormones in balance. The pituitary gland secretes human growth hormones; during this time, it helps the tissues in the body to grow and regenerate cells.
Conclusively, a person has to get enough sleep for the body to functions properly. The amount of deep sleep a person can get is related to the overall hours of sleep. It is recommended to at least have 7 to 9 hours of sleep time, which will give the body plenty of time to replenish.
Tips to get Deep Sleep
Follow these simple nuggets to set up a simple evening routine for deep, restful sleep. You have to change your sleep pattern and practice the below cues, through which the body knows that the day is ending. So consistency is important.
Time your Sleep
Ayurveda considers different parts of the night to be dominated by other doshas. It's best to hit the bed before 10.30 P.M. when the night is dominated by Kapha, as it provides a sense of deep restfulness. After 10.30 P.M., Pitta dominates and makes us feel active and energetic until nearly 2 P.M. Sleeping fewer hours at the proper bedtime is more restful than hitting the bed late for a longer duration.
Avoid Caffeine in the Evening
Stimulants like coffee and tea make you feel energetic and prevent your body from recognizing fatigue. This makes it hard to hit the bed early. Avoiding your evening coffee can go a long way in getting a restful night.
Reduce Strenuous Activity
Stop strenuous physical and mental activity a couple of hours before your bedtime.
Dim the Lights
Our circadian rhythms have evolved over the past years to be susceptible to light. The dimming of natural light at sunset is a biological signal for our bodies to wind down and rest. However, artificial lighting at night can be profoundly confusing for the body as it interferes with these signals. So, it's best to progressively dim the lights at home as you get closer to bedtime for better sleep. This serves as a cue for our body that the day is ending.
Have a light, early dinner
To ensure a good sleep, food must be digested entirely before you hit the bed. According to Ayurveda, the ideal gap between dinner and bedtime is at least three hours. This prevents the collection of toxins in our body(ama) which can wake you up feeling dull and lethargic. To make it easier, try to eat early, you can have a lighter meal.
Wash Your Face
We know this sounds like one of those things that your mom has nagged you about endlessly. Washing your face in lukewarm water before sleeping cleans dirt collected throughout the day, unclogs pores, and helps your skin breathe freely at night. Oh, it also prevents aging and gives a glow to your face.
A few drops of oil for your head and feet
Over the day, your body accumulates a lot of heat. Apply a few drops of oil on your scalp and massage gently in the clockwise direction. Follow this by massaging a few drops of oil from heel to toe. This simple routine removes excess heat from the body, helping in getting more deep sleep.
Keep your devices away
This might sound like a demanding task, but trust us, it's worth it. Using mobiles, tablets and laptops can strain your eyes and interfere with your body's melatonin production. This fools our biological clocks into thinking it's daytime. Keep your devices away an hour before bedtime. You can use this time to read, listen to soothing music or get some alone time.
Maintain a journal
Writing a journal is a simple way to clear your mind of thoughts and remove residual emotions. You don't have to spend a lot of time. Take five minutes to write a quick note every night.
Don't read in bed
Surprising as this may sound, reading in bed is not a great idea. Reading in bed sends conflicting signals as your body is ready to sleep while your mind is alert. Do your bedtime reading in your study. Choose soothing and uplifting content to read at night. Emotionally distressing content can affect the quality of sleep.
A glass of warm milk
Your grandmother was right. A glass of warm milk with a dash of cardamom and turmeric does indeed ensure a good night's rest.
Consciously relax your body
When you hit the bed, lie down, facing upwards in a comfortable position. Consciously loosen each part of the body by gently bringing your awareness and willing it to relax. Then bring your attention to your breath and gently drift off to sleep. This simple version of Yoga Nidra can dramatically increase the quality of your sleep. Over time, you will feel refreshed after sleeping fewer hours.
Tailor your Sleep to your Dosha
Your doshic constitution influences your sleep.
Vata types may have irregular sleep cycles and find it hard to establish a routine. Hit the bed early, even if you are not tired. Sleeping on the left side is ideal as it encourages breath through the right nostril, giving warmth to the body.
Pitta types could suffer from disturbed sleep. Keep the sleeping room quiet and pleasant. Since the body tends to heat up, it's best to sleep on the right. This encourages breathing through the left nostril for cooling.
Kapha types tend to oversleep. This can lead to a Kapha imbalance in the morning. So it's vital to have a strict waking time, preferably before 6 A.M. It's good to sleep on the right side to promote heating.
This may seem like a long, daunting list. Think of this as a buffet and choose a few practices that appeal to you. Make sure you do these every night. Over time you can add more elements to your evening routine. Relax, unwind and sleep well the Ayurvedic way.
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