Updated: Oct 3, 2020
What if I say the best medicine for your better health is free?
Yes! You heard me…….
And that medicine is, SLEEP!!!!
Sleep is a mystery that is not completely understood to date. But after years of studies, researchers, psychologists and doctors point out how important sleep is for a healthy life.
One-third of our lives we spend sleeping. But according to WHO and National Sleep Foundation ( Big fish in sleep studies) 2/3rd of the adults in developed countries do not get adequate sleep. Sleep problems constitute a global epidemic that threatens health and quality of life for up to 45% of the world’s population.
The prevalence of sleep disorders in India is also high. A study has pegged the percentage of insomnia to be as high as 33% among adults in India. In many other studies including the Fitbit studies done on different countries show India is moderately rested or falls in the first five sleep-deprived countries. So on goes the statistics.
In the 21st century, after work and other duties, people relax during night time, which cuts into the sleep hours not knowing that they cannot make up for the lost sleep. Many people choose other activities over sleep just because they assume sleep is a waste of time. This thinking might change if they know what sleep does to our bodies.
Good Sleep can:
•Boost your immune system to fight diseases and other infections
•Reduce the chance for cancer, stroke and cardiovascular diseases
•Improved learning and memory
•Better mental health by dealing with stress, anxiety and daily problems
•Less risk of having Alzheimer and dementia
•Good skin and hair
•Insufficient sleep can cause obesity and sexual problems.
So, how much sleep is required for an individual? Studies by WHO suggest for all the above-mentioned benefits, 7-9 hours of sleep for adults (18 above) and 8-10 hours for adolescents ( parents you hear me!). You can evaluate how much quality sleep you get a day.
As I have mentioned in my article on depression, this lockdown time has brought mixed feelings and experiences. This period has influenced not just our work life or social life, but also our sleep life. People exercise and have a nutritious diet for better health and immunity, but forgets about the part that ends a day and begins a day; sleep. Many do not take it seriously but many just do not know what to do to get a good sleep. After the three months of quarantine, this period has brought about three types of sleepers.
Well rested and good sleepers
The sleep-deprived or tired ones
The over sleepers
The first group is the group who has good sleep and not impacted by the current situation. They are the lucky ones who took this lockdown period as a break from their strenuous lives, time for growth or just as a phase.
But this sudden confinement has left another group facing stress, worries about the uncertainty, panic caused by the epidemic, lack of a proper schedule, lost jobs, financial problems, inability to have a social life and also a new social media caused problem, FOMO. These overwhelming thoughts, feelings and worries have disturbed the sleep of many including those who had proper sleep before lockdown.
Currently, studies are rigorously conducted across the world to find the impact of COVID-19 on sleep and results show an increase in sleep troubles and insomnia.
Note that sleep deprivation is different from insomnia. Sleep-deprived people are the ones who do not get adequate sleep only because they do not give appropriate time to sleep. Insomniacs can be caused by difficulty in falling to sleep or staying asleep even if they give adequate time. Sleep deprivation and insomnia cause the feeling of tiredness, difficulty in concentrating, taking naps during the day, lethargic etc. Insomniacs even think taking alcohol or sleeping pills will help the situation but it just makes it all worse.
The third group are the ones we forget about, who sleep more than the above- mentioned sleep hours and wake up feeling more tired and groggy. Sound familiar? They too complain about feeling exhausted, unrefreshed, heavy-headed and lethargic. Continuous oversleeping can be a symptom of hypersomnia which is a sleep disorder caused by underlying causes.
Hypersomnia can be caused by:
Sleep deprivation (yes, it's not just about quantity)
Being overweight ( you can relate with not getting good sleep)
Narcolepsy or sleep apnea
Underlying other mental illness
Alcohol or drug abuse
Sleep is not just being not awake, but your whole body and brain are going through a rejuvenation process including learning, unlearning, storing, cleansing, growth and transformation. No spa or workout can compete with that 😄. When lockdown hit you with such a huge mental and physical stress, we should defend ourselves with good immunity and mental health. Exercise, meditation, good food and good sleep can be your saviour. So what can we do for an improved quality/quantity sleep?
Read more: TIPS FOR BETTER SLEEP
Dedicating this sleep series to Dr. William C. Dement who is the Father of Sleep Medicine and left us on 17 June 2020.
Picture credits: Shamim Photography (Instagram: @shamim.photography)