'Sleep' walk into the world of health

Getting enough quality sleep at right times is vital for mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety

Getting enough quality sleep at right times is vital for mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety

Our body is like a huge factory, which performs various major functions consistently. Getting quality sleep is one of the best things one can do to maintain mental and physical fitness. Sleep is as vital to our health as diet and exercise. Considering that we spend one-third of our lives sleeping, it is something regarded as a waste of time, yet the reality remains that we need sleep to survive and function.

Research shows that getting enough quality sleep at right times is vital for mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.

Why sleep matters:

The ability to function and feel energic while an individual is awake depends on getting sufficient total sleep and enough of each type of sleep. It also depends on whether the sleeping happens at a time when the body is prepared and ready to sleep. As the body drifts off to sleep, several critical tasks are being fulfilled by the brain simultaneously to prepare for the next day which includes:

  • Healing damaged cells
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Recovering from the day's activities
  • Recharging the heart and cardiovascular system for the next day
  • Building memories
  • Reinforcing learning
  • Clearing toxins

Sleep helps the brain to work properly. While the body is sleeping, the brain processes all the data received during the day to help learn and remember information. Sleep is involved in healing and repair of the heart and blood vessels. It also helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones and affects the way body reacts to insulin.

The sleep cycle:

The two basic types of sleep are rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement(NREM). Generally, non-REM and REM sleep occur in a regular pattern of 3–5 cycles each night. If the sleep cycle is disturbed multiple times, we miss out on various vital processes of the body.

Sleep deprivation and sleep deficiency:

Sleep deprivation is a condition that occurs if an individual does not get enough sleep. Sleep deficiency is a broader concept which occurs with the presence of one or more of the following reasons:

  • A person doesn't get enough sleep (sleep deprivation)
  • A person sleeps at the wrong time of day (that is, he is out of sync with his body's natural clock)
  • A person does not sleep well or get all of the different types of sleep that his body needs
  • A person has a sleep disorder that prevents him from getting enough sleep or causes poor quality sleep

Health problems:

Sleep deficiency is linked to many chronic health problems including heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and depression.

Studies also show that sleep deficiency alters activity in some parts of the brain. If someone is sleep deficient, he may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior.

Children and teens who are sleep deficient may have problems getting along with others. They may feel angry and impulsive, have mood swings, feel sad or depressed, or lack motivation. They also may have problems paying attention, and they may get lower grades and feel stressed. Sleep deficiency is also linked to obesity in all age groups.

Most common sleep disorders:

Sleep disorders are a group of conditions that affect the ability to sleep well on a regular basis. A few common disorders are:

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Narcolepsy
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • REM Sleep Behaviour Disorder

Remedial measures:

Lifestyle changes would be an ideal approach to correct the sleep issues. Therapy can be more effective than medication for insomnia and other sleep disorders in many cases. Prescription medicines for sleep may be used as well but are typically advised to be used on a short-term or as-needed basis. Else the body may develop tolerance to the sedative effect of sleep-aids quickly. Any medication should be taken only under professional supervision since drug interactions, side-effects, safety and effectiveness of medicine for a specific person needs to be carefully studied before administering. Non-medical methods, such as cognitive behavior therapy, hypnosis, sleep restriction, stimulus control, and relaxation techniques, are preferred in many situations to tackle sleep disorders effectively.

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