Are you someone who is
- having trouble waking up in the morning
- Suffering from anxiety, irritability or depression
- Having trouble focusing
- Feeling sleepy during the day
- Sleeping much longer on some days?
Then, you are suffering from an unhealthy sleep pattern and are chronically sleep-deprived.
What is a Good Sleep Cycle?
Good quality sleep is a gift that you need to be grateful for. Not everyone is naturally blessed with it. Healthy sleep cycles can improve learning, creativity, memory, cognitive skills and mood. Healthy sleep builds the immune system and helps to maintain a proper lifestyle and healthy food habits. A healthy sleep cycle is measured in terms of duration, regularity, continuity and timing.
How do you know if you have a Good Sleep Pattern?
If you have a good sleep pattern, you will
- Feel refreshed in the morning
- Have boundless energy during the day
- Feel active and positive
- Be focused and clear-headed
- Be in a good mood
- Not feel sleepy during the day
What happens when your sleep cycle is unhealthy?
Lack of sleep often leads to feeling slow, tired and depressed. Over long periods, poor sleep cycles can have adverse effects that build up slowly without letting you recognize the impact on your life. The long term impact of sleep deprivation on your mental and physical health is real.
Impact of Sleep Deprivation on your health
Poor sleep can cause multiple issues ranging from weight gain to a weakened immune system. It can cause
- Memory Issues - Both short and long term memory are impacted due to poor sleep.
- Trouble with thinking and concentration - Thinking, concentration, creativity and problem-solving skills are weakened.
- Mood Changes - Lack of sleep can make you moody and irritable. Sleep deprivation can lead to anxiety and depression in the long term.
- Accidents - Feeling drowsy during the day due to lack of sleep can lead to accidents and injuries.
- Weak Immune System - It weakens your immune system making you susceptible to viruses like the common cold and flu.
- High Blood Pressure - If sleep is less than 5 hours on a sustained basis, the risk of high blood pressure increases.
- Diabetes -Sleep deprivation affects the body’s capacity to produce insulin which leads to high blood sugar and risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
- Weight Gain - Sleep deprivation messes with the brain’s ability to transmit signals when you are full, leading you to eat more than needed.
- Low sex drive - Lack of sleep can lead to reduced libido.
- Heart Disease - Those suffering from lack of sleep are prone to heart diseases.
- Poor Balance - Poor sleep cycles lead to loss of balance and coordination increases the risk of physical injury.
What are the various stages of sleep?
Did you know that our sleep is a set of four stages, one following the other?
- Stage 1 non-REM sleep is the switch from wakeful status to sleep.
- Stage 2 non-REM sleep is a period of light sleep before you move to the next stage.
- Stage 3 non-REM sleep is the period of deep sleep that energizes you
- Stage 4 REM sleep occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep.
How many hours of sleep is ideal?
Experts recommend 7-9 hours of sleep as the ideal number but this normally varies as we pass through the stages of life.
Quality of sleep
More than the number of hours, it is the quality of sleep that is more important. The four stages of sleep must be completed for the body to recharge itself.
The biological clock finds its sleep pattern and settles down. Under normal circumstances, the body prefers to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Once the body finds its rhythm it will try and ensure that it sticks to its routine unless it is forced by external circumstances.
Here is a list of things you can keep in mind to ensure a good night’s sleep
- Increase the light exposure during the day
- Avoid caffeine intake in the late hours
- Stay away from alcohol
- Find a comfortable bed, mattress and pillow
- Do not exercise before going to sleep
- Reduce daytime naps
- Have a regular time for sleep
- Adjust the room temperature
- Don’t have a late dinner
- Don’t have liquids at bedtime
- Have a relaxing shower
- Keep your mind relaxed and stress-free
All we can say is that a healthy sleep cycle is vital for good health and happiness. A sleep-deprived person will find it difficult to concentrate during the day and complete his daily activities. It will start playing on his mind and reflect in his/her social behaviour. The adage “ Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” may have more than a grain of truth to it.