Mahadeep Singh Jamwal
Believing the writing is an exploration. We start from nothing and learn as we go. Similar exercise dared to be taken by me in subject sleep, when one of my compatriots asked me a query ‘what is the best feeling in the world’. Without a pause, my truthfulness took a jumpy smile and simple reply ‘waking up in the middle of the night and realising you still have hours to sleep’. It may be comical in nature but in the system of my life, it is the only best feeling. The other query shot by an inquisitive mind was ‘what is the worst thing in the world’ and my reaction was ‘trying to sleep and not getting it’. On who is the richest person? My return was the one who had 8 hours of comfortable natural sleep. In the best meditation in the world, I narrated the words of Dalai Lama, “Sleep is the best meditation”. Beamingly, he left leaving a sensitive nap for my account. Exploratory is an ironclad part of the growth involvement. We are not healthy, unless our sleep is healthy. People access the subject of sleep in different ways. Some people value sleep as a nourishing gap in their reality, a time where they can lie down in a comfortable bed and disentangle from the world during those few hours. Some value sleep for its regenerative properties. We go to sleep after a physically and mentally hard day’s work and awake, refreshed, physically healed, and with a new perspective. Sleep is seen by many of us as a highly pleasurable experience, something to look forward to after a tiring day. There is a section quite opposite of this thought and believe sleep is an unnecessary diversion of time, that could be better spent elsewhere. Generally such ideologists, we find in many productivity enthusiasts cities, where life never stops, but genuinely sleep is something we all need.
In the digital world, we say about our computer to be in sleep when we shut off or disconnect power and it is the period of inactivity that saves energy. Similarly in human beings, sleep shut off physical activities of the body. It is a natural periodic state of rest for the mind and body. But like computers, it is not the period of inactivity but during sleep the brain in humans undergoes a characteristic cycle of brain-wave activity that includes dreaming. Some researchers believe that the brain organises and stores memories during sleep. Sleep becomes important to us because our body during activities perform a number of vital functions and sleep heals our damaged cells, boosts our immune system, recovers from day’s activities and recharge our heart and cardiovascular system for a fresh day. During sleep muscles are relaxed and the body rearranges itself once or twice each hour. We have an alert system and internal clocks, that tell us when we need to sleep. The amount of sleep each person needs depends on many factors, including age, health, physical exertion, and mental activity. We find a standard calendar of sleep hours for different age-groups. It recommends infants less than one year should have 16 to 20 hours, 1-2 years old 14 hours, 3-4 years old 12 hours, 5-12 years old 10 hours, 13-17 years old 9 hours. Younger adults (18-25): sleep range is 7-9 hours, adults (26-64): sleep range is 7-9 hours, and older adults (65+): sleep range is 7-8 hours. Pregnant women need more sleep per day than usual. It is an admitted fact that both long sleepers and short sleepers have higher mortality rates, than people who sleep around the standard 8 hours. Sleep debt is also connected with higher rates of depression and weight gain, as well as poorer immune system and memory function. It is also advisable to have a short nap of approximately 30 minutes during the day that re-energise and helps us to improve our alertness for several hours.
Sleep deprivation for even one or two nights can vastly affect our need for sleep. Unlike many things in life, sleep time is not something that is routinely changed. We can’t get used to a lower amount of sleep just because it fits our schedule, but we can’t resist it for long. Sleep deficit can be cured only by getting some sleep. Anyone can have a sleep problem. Many people accept it as normal, and few people seek the help, they need, from their doctors. Sleep is not a bank. We can’t store it up and then go days on little sleep. Nor it can be overdraw and then make up sleep needs on weekends.
Getting an adequate amount of sleep is an important factor for living a healthy life. Sleeping wrong could do our spine major damage. Reducing back pain is keeping our spine in its natural curve. Best bets are lying on our back or side with a pillow strategically placed to take stress off your lower back, says Jeffrey Goldstein, MD, Chief of Spine Service Education at NYU Langone’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery Philadelphia, United States. The sleeping postures play a critical role in comfort sleep and best recommended is back position. According to Eric Olson, MD, a sleep medicine specialist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, United States, back position is ideal for fighting acid reflux. Dee Anna Glaser, MD, a professor of dermatology at Saint Louis University, Florida, held that the back position helps prevent wrinkles and maintain perky breasts. Sleeping on our back makes it easy for the head, neck, and spine to maintain a neutral position. The worst position is ‘Stomach position’. It is bad for avoiding neck and back pain, minimizing wrinkles, maintaining perky breasts. Stomach-sleeping makes it difficult to maintain a neutral position with our spine. It puts pressure on joints and muscles, which can irritate nerves and lead to pain, numbness, and tingling. There are going to be pros and cons of each sleeping position, but if you get the best rest in a less-than-ideal position, that’s probably still the best choice for you.
We need to change our way of life so that every night we can get the proper sleep. Some keys we come across are; 1. Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends. 2. Create and practice a relaxing bedtime routine and rituals. 3. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in afternoon. 4. Have the right support and right position. 5. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows. 6. Manage your thoughts. 7. Stay away from big meals at night. 8. Avoid alcohol before bed. 9. Eliminate caffeine after lunch. 10. Exercise daily. 11. Evaluate your room. 12. Light is a powerful signal to your brain to be awake, eliminating sneaky light sources. 13. Slipping between cool sheets helps trigger a drop in our body temperature, that shift signals the body to produce melatonin, which induces sleep. That’s why it’s also a good idea to take a warm bath or hot shower before going to bed. 14. Nicotine is a stimulant that prevents from falling asleep, better to stop smoking.
A study showed that people exposed to mobile radiation took longer to fall asleep and have symptoms of confusion, sleeping problems and chronic headaches. A research team from Oxford University has shown blue light affects sleep-wake cycles by encouraging wakefulness. A Myth that drinking a glass of warm milk helps us fall asleep stand busted by Art Spielman, M.D., an insomnia expert and professor of psychology at the City University of New York. ‘Drinking alcohol makes sleeping better’ a myth busted by physiology Researcher James Heathers that sleep you have becomes proportionally less effective. Sammy Margo a physiotherapist in London, says, “Drinking alcohol before bed prevents you from getting to a deep stage of sleep.”
I would like to conclude with the words of Jim Butcher, science fiction and fantasy author from the United States ‘Sleep is God. Go worship.’
Mahadeep Singh Jamwal