Frank Underwood, a character from the television series House of Cards once said, “I’ve always loathed the necessity of sleep.” Reason being, he thought that it put even the most powerful men in a powerless state. This applies to most of us. We deem sleep as something to be grabbed at and dealt with; an inconvenience to our busy lives.
Yes, you have a deadline to make, or you want to watch an episode of your favorite show or just want to finish that chapter. One thing we often fail to consider is the effect of inadequate sleep on our bodies.
Dr. Matthew Walker, who is the director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, wrote a book on the issue of poor sleeping habits. In this book, he explains the dangers associated and how to ensure you are getting sound sleep.
People find sleeping to be rather luxurious (others find it a waste of time) mainly because it is a silent need. I cannot count the all-nighters I have pulled for various reasons.
This ‘silent need’ is, if not anything else, time to heal and balance your body. The human body is just like a gadget. It needs to be fully recharged for it to function correctly.
Aside from the rejuvenation, sleep also keeps some medical conditions at bay. If a person sleeps for six hours or less every night, the brain increases the production of a protein called beta-amyloid. This sticky protein is notorious for causing Alzheimer’s Disease at a later stage in their life.
Sleep deprivation increases the risk of obesity and heart attack. A single night of inadequate sleep or hypersensitive sleep is enough to elevate blood pressure throughout the next day. This could be responsible for an episode which may bring about other health issues or even result in death.
In his book, Dr. Walker cited factors which may be responsible for the change in sleeping habits.
1. Gadgets and gizmos
Smartphones, gaming boxes, and the computer are the distractions which most often tempt people to eat into sleeping time. Even children fail to get the required dose of sleep because their messengers are calling them into the action all night long. In order to ensure that these gadgets do not affect your health, designate time for using them. Once that time has elapsed, leave them in another room (or pace it on the dresser if you must) and prepare for bed.
The brain needs darkness to release a hormone called Melatonin. It helps to control the circadian rhythm and the body’s sleep routine. The hormone is also prepared in a laboratory and used as medicine to relieve jet lag and treat insomnia.
When dusk begins to set in, the hormone is released. However, light from bulbs and television screens hinder this process. This interference affects the body’s sleep clock which may result in reduced sleep.
We can all relate to the comforting feeling that sweeps across the house when the heating radiator is switched on. Although the feeling is pleasant, the heat prevents your body temperature from dropping, which is necessary for your body to prepare for a good night’s sleep.
Once these tips have been implemented, there are also some habits which will guarantee a peaceful sleep. They include:
I. Coming home early which guarantees you have enough time to prepare dinner and get to bed on time.
2. Avoid coffee in the evening for obvious reasons. The same goes for alcohol. Sedation is not the same as sleep!
3. Keep your feet warm or take a bath. It causes the blood vessels to expand, and this sends a signal to the brain that it is time to sleep.
4. Be disciplined and stick to the sleep timer. It’s easier said than done, and discipline would go a long way in helping you stay healthy.
You can also come up with a go-to-bed routine that puts you right to sleep. It can be reading a book (such as Why We Sleep) meditating or reciting a novela.
Your health is your responsibility. An extra hour’s sleep could save you from years of pain and distress.