What is the science behind sleep? Sleep is a part of our circadian rhythm which we follow as per sun light. Sun light impacts our body in various ways – research shows that people living in temperate regions suffer from low mood, anxiety and suicidal tendencies more than people living in tropical regions with good exposure to sun light. Any altercation in our circadian rhythm severely disturbs the delicate balance of biochemicals (endorphins and hormones) in our body. People with altered sleeping pattern as well as those working in night shifts are more prone to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and mental health issues such as memory loss, stress, anxiety, depression, etc. Sexual health problems and performance are also involved as a secondary to all these.
Now, let us talk about the benefits of good quality sleep on our body. It relaxes our mind and body and rejuvenates it. It relaxes and relieves muscle tension. It improves our intestinal absorption and motility as well as decreases carbohydrates craving. It decreases anxiety and levels of stress hormones/chemicals that affect our metabolism, heart rate and blood pressure. It improves healing process. It improves our concentration ability making us more focused so that we can plan our activities properly. In short, good quality sleep makes us more active physically as well as mentally.
Nowadays, our lifestyle is so rushed that having a good sleeping behavior is no longer our top priority. Adding to this, the use of smart phones and laptops has increased our exposure to blue light affecting our sleep cycle and deranging our circadian rhythm. Blue light exposure suppresses melatonin secretion; this hormone plays a crucial role in maintaining circadian rhythm alignment. Further, the current Covid pandemic and lockdown has not only increased our screen time but is also taking a toll on our mental and physical health. Office work has come to home and we are forced to juggle between family commitments and office responsibilities. Between all this, we barely manage to get the much needed 7-8 hours of sound sleep.
What we all need to do is to take back control on our physical, mental and emotional health – the best way to start is to have a good sleeping pattern. Few tips for achieving this:
- Taking evening meals at least 2-3 hours before bedtime.
- Avoiding high energy food or drink after 5pm in evening.
- Ideally, no mobile/laptop use at least 2-3 hours before bedtime.
- Having a calming environment in the bedroom at bedtime.
- Taking a relaxing bath just before hitting the bed.