Not sleeping enough? Here's what may happen and how you can avoid it

Written By: Anushka Dixit WION
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Mar 11, 2018, 04:52 AM(IST)

Representative image Photograph:( Reuters )

Sleep has become a major issue for over half the population of the world these days. Switching from demanding jobs to having responsibilities outside of it, people have started compromising the number of hours in bed and it's no surprise that the number of illnesses is rising because of it.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), insufficient sleep has now become a public health problem with over a quarter of global adult population suffering from symptoms of sleep deprivation. We’ve all had nights when we lie awake in bed, unable to quiet our racing thoughts.  

“It’s very common for people to report being physically tired, but not being able to shut their mind off, especially if they’re very excited or worried about something,” says James Findley, PhD, clinical director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

Source: World Economic Forum (Others)

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Sleep irregularities may be tied to a variety of health problems, such as diabetes and obesity, that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as a variety of cardiovascular disorders, such as clogged or hardened arteries, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, a leading US doctors' group says. The risk may go up when people get too little sleep, or too much, according to a statement from the American Heart Association (AHA).

Data from a recent study shows that an average Indian sleeps for just 6.5 hours a night and 46% of Indians get less than 6 hours of sleep a night! According to a research carried out by a consumer products giant, nearly 93% Indians are sleep-deprived. The switch in lifestyle and the invasion of gadgets have made the situation go out of hand. In Lucknow district alone, the number of sleep disorder-affected patients could be well over 40 lakh, say doctors at King George's Medical University. 

The study further says that 72% of Indians are waking up one to three times per night and 87% of them say lack of sleep is affecting their health. On the impact on productivity, the study reveals that more than 58% of Indians believe their work suffers due to lack of adequate sleep whereas 38% have witnessed a colleague falling asleep at work.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society recently advised that adults get at least seven hours of sleep every night to promote overall health. In general, melatonin makes us feel tired. Hormone levels rise a couple of hours before we sleep, and they fall right when we wake up. 

Source: World Economic Forum (Twitter)

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Excessive amounts of melatonin and imbalance in hormonal levels make us feel tired, moody, grubby; our immunity goes for a toss and we find it harder to revive ourselves. Just missing an hour of sleep each night can make you more prone to illness, says the National Institute of Health. 

These are some things one should be aware of while trying to improve their sleep cycle. Just in case you think you have everything possible but still can't sleep a wink, step this way. 

Try these simple tricks to get a sound sleep: 

1. Avoid sleeping pills, switch to essential oils

Sleeping pills can actually worsen the situation and lead to severe health issues like a low rate of breathing, asthma, digestive issues, headache, stomach pain and memory loss. Essential oils have long been known as natural healing aids. Oils infused with lavender promote relaxation; cedarwood helps in relieving stress and tension and frankincense helps in regulating body temperature as well as reducing anxiety and stress. 

2. Load up on magnesium 

Studies suggest close to 80% adults are deficient in magnesium. The key mineral is known to help in muscle relaxation when your mind is constantly running and induce sleep. 

3. Exercising helps

Regular exercising has been proven to improve sleep. Pressed for time? Try incorporating shorter but more intense workouts in your regime - HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts. Just 30-40 minutes of hard-hitting exercise can help you reap many benefits, including faster fat loss!

4. Nap  

Napping is the best way to keep your body regulated and recover. Power nap whenever possible, say for 20 minutes during the day. It will reduce fatigue and lethargy. 

5. Leave your bedroom door open

People who sleep with their doors and windows closed have a higher content of carbon dioxide in their bedrooms due to poor ventilation. According to experts, people are prone to disturbed sleep if they sleep with their windows and doors closed. Poor ventilation can lead to chemical build-up inside the room which may hinder the body's ability to relax.

6. Try hot-water shower

Our body temperature begins to drop as we fall asleep; the process can be induced by having a warm bath right before going to bed. A drop in your body's temperature right after taking a hot-water bath will induce sleep. Experts also say that taking a steamy, 20-minute shower would have similar effects. Just don't go to bed with wet hair.

7. Get rid of that sleep tracker

It may seem like a great idea but it has its potential risks. Professionals say that sleep issues are worsened if people become obsessed and get on to analyze every minor detail of their health. Also, they may not always be the most accurate. Sleep tracking devices may just give you a general idea of your sleeping and waking-up time or pattern, always remember that no machine is really equipped to tell the difference between laying in bed and when you are actually asleep. So, ditch the tracker and perhaps focus on your breathing instead of focusing on your tracker every 20 minutes. 

8 Grab a light carbohydrate snack

Having a large meal or a heavy snack right before bed can certainly affect your sleep and lead to weight gain as well. However, getting a light carbohydrate snack when you are having a hard time sleeping may actually help. A small tub of popcorn or whole grain/corn/rice crackers may help the cravings. 

9. Read, it helps

Choosing to read a book in bed is known to be one of the standard ways to induce sleep. But, the catch is to choose that does not lead you to stay up all night in anticipation of "what's going to happen next." Ideally, choose a book that isn't related to politics, murder mysteries, thrillers etc. 
 

10. Listen to podcasts/audiobooks

Many people like to sleep with a little background noise. Instead of leaving your TV/Laptops on in your room on, switch to podcasts or audiobooks. They help in taking your mind off of the things you normally think about right before going to bed. Explore from a wide range of podcasts available online. Listening to music has always been known to promote sleep and relaxation. 

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