The bustle of modern life impacts our sleep adversely. Insufficient sleep concerns everyone: the young and the elderly, men and women, the common men and the professionals. Insufficient sleep is often referred to as a universal epidemic.
From time to time, we all go to bed later than usual. In a case like this, lack of sleep is not likely to affect us too much. However, when it becomes a routine, it can prove to be detrimental to our health.
Sleeping badly causes nervousness and irritability apart from producing headache. The level of concentration is no longer the same. For these reasons, it’s advisable to avoid driving or cooking. The mind gets hazy. Fighting sleep makes your life difficult. Fatigue is associated with lack of sleep. Double effort is required to accomplish a task. Thus, the person is physically and mentally tense. There’s also loss of interest in sexual matters. Moreover, sleep-deprived individuals tend to be forgetful. Limited or irregular sleep contributes to loss of hair.
It has been found that sufficient sleep improves academic performance, makes the mind alert and receptive. Problem-solving abilities are sharpened. Students might be interested to know that a good night’s sleep cleans up the brain by removing needless information and consolidates material assimilated during the day. New learning is thus made possible. A profound sleep, in addition, lightens the body by getting rid of toxins.
Someone who sleeps well manages his emotions better and copes with daily challenges at home and at work with more serenity and success. Being in greater control of himself, he is less likely to run into conflict with people. Quality of sleep matters a lot when it comes to pregnancy. Lack of sleep over a prolonged period may affect the woman’s foetus. Another trouble with sleep deprivation is that one tends to eat more and to develop junk-food desires, which leads to weight gain.
Sleep and Alzheimer’s
Researchers have established a link between lack of sleep and certain diseases. An article published in “The Hindu” (India) on Feb. 23, 2019, under the title “Sufficient sleep cuts risk of cardiovascular disease” quotes Filip Swirski from the Massachusetts General Hospital in the US: “We have discovered that sleep helps regulate the production of the bone marrow of inflammatory cells and the health of blood vessels and that, conversely, sleep disruption breaks down control of inflammatory cell production, leading to more inflammation and more heart disease.”
Poor sleep has a part to play in Alzheimer’s as the following extract from “The best thing you can do for your health: sleep well” by Matthew Walker, a scientist, published in The Guardian (9.2.2019) makes clear: “Insufficient sleep is now one of the most significant lifestyle factors influencing whether or not you will develop Alzheimer’s disease. During sleep, a remarkable sewage system kicks in to high gear. As you enter deep sleep, this sanitisation system cleanses the brain of a sticky, toxic protein linked to Alzheimer’s, known as beta amyloid. Without sufficient sleep, you fail to get that power cleanse. With each passing night of insufficient sleep, that Alzheimer’s disease risk escalates, like compounding interest on a loan.”
The same article mentions that “inadequate sleep for just one week disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly you would be classified as prediabetic.”
Severe cases of sleeplessness demand medical attention and counselling. Otherwise, a few practical measures can be taken, for example, going to bed at the same time every night and avoiding heavy food and caffeine. Worry happens to play against sleep. You lose your sense of peacefulness when the mind is constantly disturbed by certain recurring ideas. You turn over and over and feel ill at ease.
Severe insomnia must not be confused with phobic insomnia. The former lasts over a long time whereas the latter is temporary. Phobic insomnia is about beginning to worry, or even developing a fear, of not being able to sleep. This exacerbates the situation.
To sleep well, one needs to liberate the mind from anxieties. Positive mental images and warm thoughts soothe the mind. Jangled nerves push sleep away while uplifting ideas and logical thinking are relaxing. This paves the way for a long and pleasant sleep. Bedtime is the ideal time to forgive yourself and others as well. Make it a point never to bear a grudge against anybody. Forgiveness is therapeutic just like a prayer. Inner calm induces a smooth sleep.
Reading a funny story, laughing whole-heartedly over a joke, listening to soft music are sure ways to releasing tension. Ensure that the room is smoke-free because nicotine and other toxins increase heartbeats and raise blood pressure, which interferes with sleep. Focus on the wonderful things that life has given you instead of the things it hasn’t. Think about the little things you can do the next day for the people you meet in order to bring a smile to their faces. Imaging or visualizing the future with optimism sends hopeful messages to the mind.
And keep your smartphone aside at night. Let your eyes rest because they are sensitive to the blue light found in the electronic screens.