SLEEP – Cracking the Nut!

Check out some frequently asked questions about sleep and how snoring, dreams and food impact our sleep quality.
Sleeping woman
Sleep is essential. Let's break some myths around sleep. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Published: 5 Mar 2024, 21:57 pm IST
  • 124

Sleep is enigmatic and yetrefreshing, rejuvenating and probably the most profound hallmark of well-being. As long as we achieve a reasonable quality and quantity and, on most days, we really don’t care much about it, do we? And rightly so. But, when it disintegrates or is disturbed in some ways, heavens can cut loose. We can go cranky and groggy to lethargic and anxious to depressed and underperformers. It can even lead to forgetfulness and some serious physical health consequences like heart disease, lower immunity, hypertension, diabetes, overweight etc. So, needless to say the significance of cracking this nut – to achieve good, sound, refreshing sleep, every night. Here are some common myths and perceptions around this enigma and scientific suggestions to manage it.

1. “I prefer sleeping early in the morning and waking up in the afternoon”.

Unfortunately, it is not always about what you prefer. Just like many physiological mechanisms, sleep too is governed by The Biological Clock which, through sleep hormone Melatonin (released when it is dark!), sets a wonderful sleep rhythm. Hence, make sure you sleep in the night only, without disrupting this paradigm of nature.

2. “Afternoon naps are okay?”

In simple terms, day time naps are only for people who can sleep well in the night, because they can afford to. If your night sleep is already disrupted, your daytime nap can only worsen it. Occasional short naps, if you are tired and exhausted is ok, but not as a routine.

3. “Snoring means sound and deep sleep, right?

No, it is anything but that. Snoring is a manifestation of your airway getting significantly blocked while you are asleep by muscles around neck and tongue. It can lower the air pressure and O2 concentration in the body creating panic on the heart. This results in high blood pressure and potentially all the other consequences like heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, overweight and even heart attack. This condition is referred to as Sleep Apnea and is treatable.

4. “But I have to sleep for at least 7 hours. If not, how do I manage my day?”

Duration is important, but don’t get fixated on it. As we grow older and older, our sleep duration keeps coming down. Also, there will be some variation depending on our well-being, stress levels etc. But our body and mind have great adaptability skills to manage those minor fluctuations and catch up as needed. So, just relax.

Dr Satish Ramaiah
Psychiatrist Dr Satish Ramaiah stresses on the importance of sound sleep for overall health.

5. “I can achieve my daily quota of sleep, but not in one stretch”

It’s time you break that belief. Sleep is a result of a series of physiological sequences and patterns in the night (called sleep cycles) meant to achieve the best outcomes in our mood, cognition, behaviour, performance and wellbeing. Disruption to this pattern can result in serious consequences. Try to get your sleep in one stretch.

6. “How can my food habits help my sleep?”

Avoid heavy, spicy or oily food in the night. At least have a gap of couple of hours between your last meal and sleep. You can have melatonin rich foods like banana, grapes, dry fruits or a glass of warm milk before your bedtime.

7. “Exercise surely helps, right?”

Of course, it does. At least 30 to 45 mins of rigorous exercise everyday like running, yoga, brisk walking, anything will help. However, late night exercise is not advisable, as it is likely to stimulate your brain with elevated adrenaline which may keep you awake, when you should be sleeping

8. “It’s terrifying in a quiet home at night when everyone’s asleep and I am not.”

Most people with insomnia develop sleep related anticipatory anxiety which further worsens their sleep and that in turn worsens their anxiety, and before you realize, you are in a trap. Learn to relax in the night, stop fighting with your insomnia and have no desperation to sleep. Focus on calmly managing, rather than achieving perfect sleep every night.

9. “Dreams are great, but they are hijacking my night”.

No, they can’t. Dreams are a normal but complex phenomenon. We probably dream the entire night, but only recall dreams from particular stages of sleep. No one has really mastered dream analysis, neither is there any established scientific process. Don’t break your head so much about the content of your dream. Learn to enjoy or ignore depending on the content. But if it is becoming increasingly problematic, you will need help.

Select Topics of your interest and let us customize your feed.


10. “How about popping an Anxit or a Restyl to sleep better?”

Taking sleeping pills for sleep problems is like masking the problem and not solving it. Moreover, after a while, they do not work effectively and can slow down your thinking and memory. You can even get addicted to them. Instead, meet a sleep specialist who will focus on treating the underlying causes, rather than insomnia.

Keep your sleep disciplined, mindfully deal with any minor disruptions and smartly deal with the expectations. If you still can’t manage, get in touch.

Happy Sleeping!

Dr Satish Ramaiah
Executive Director of Psychiatry Services
Senior Consultant Psychiatrist and Sleep Disorder Specialist
Sukoon Health

  • 124
Next Story