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Disturbed sleep can have severe consequences for your health. Thankfully, here’s help!

Updated on:24 March 2021, 16:36pm IST
Distrubed sleep can have several short and long-term health consequences, so it’s important to take some steps to ensure you get enough shut eye and don’t suffer from sleep deprivation.
Dr Vikas Punamiya
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Sleep is important for your body to function efficiently. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Sleep is a vital part of our daily routine that permits our body and mind to revitalize, leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up. Adequate and quality sleep is important for our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. 

Studies show women tend to sleep approximately 11 minutes more than men, despite having less time for sleep due to occupational and domestic obligations, as well as family and social roles.

However, despite obtaining additional sleep overall, researchers found that women experience lower quality of sleep than men. One reason may well be that women are more likely to have caregiving roles, interrupting their sleep. 

The average adult needs minimum seven to nine hours of sleep each night. However, fewer than two-thirds of women actually get that much sleep. 

Figuring out a way to get the right amount of sleep is the trick

If you need to wake up at 7:00 am, you can set a bedtime of 11:00 pm, i.e., eight hours prior to your waking hour! 

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Most people sleep during hours that are suitable for their professional, family, and social lives. Their waking up time is mostly determined by familial responsibilities and work commitments, whereas when they go to sleep often depends on their personal preferences and social activities.

For example, some people wake up early in the morning, while others do not sleep till late within the night, and then there are others who are in between these patterns. Where you fit depends on your individual circadian rhythm, your 24-hour internal clock that regulates drowsiness, alertness, and varied bodily functions.

There is no single pattern which works for everyone

The most effective approach is to match your sleep times to your physiological rhythms, and acquire the seven to nine hours of sleep that you need regularly. You have adequate opportunities to set your sleep time, between 8:00pm and 12:00am. 

Getting adequate sleep is vital, but so is getting good quality sleep. Biological conditions distinctive to women, like the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause, all affect how well a woman sleeps.

Here’s what happens when you don’t get enough sleep

An insufficient amount of sleep or sleep deprivation has been shown to leave people susceptible to attention lapses, reduced cognition, delayed reactions, and mood shifts.

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Lack of sleep increases the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, poor mental health, and even early death.

Sleep debt, or sleep deficit, is the difference between the amount of sleep someone needs and the amount they actually sleep. Since sleep debt is cumulative, going to sleep even 30 or 60 minutes later than usual for a few days will add up quickly. 

Not sleeping too well of late? Here are some helpful tips to avoid disturbed sleep

While napping cannot be a replacement for the lost sleep, it can help you feel more at ease during the day. Naps may be significantly helpful for shift workers or people who can’t maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Even a short power nap will leave you refreshed for the rest of your day. Naps ought to be brief, ideally less than an hour and preferably before 3 p.m.

Making up for the lost sleep on weekends is one of the most common approaches. A concern with both napping and sleeping in on weekends is that after you have slept inadequately, a little additional rest can give a false sense of security. You may feel better for some time after getting additional sleep, but the cumulative effects of sleep loss is a debt that takes much longer to repay.

A lot has already been written about how electronic devices rule our individual lives, however it can’t be sufficiently emphasized how detrimental they are for our sleep and sleep quality. Electronic back-lit devices including mobile phones, tablets, readers, and computers emit blue light, which has been shown to not only reduce or delay the natural production of melatonin in the evening, but they also reduce feelings of drowsiness. Moreover, they also reduce the quantity of time spent in slow-wave and rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep, two stages of the sleep cycle that are vital for cognitive functioning.

disturbed sleep
A warm water feet dip is the secret to a good night’s sleep. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Here’s how you can sleep better at night 
  • Take a hot water shower two hours before bedtime: the hot water relaxes your muscles, whereas the body sleeps better as it cools down.
  • Switch off all electronic devices a minimum of an hour prior to bedtime.
  • Getting daily sunlight exposure improves sleep quality, as it is one of the key drivers of circadian rhythms.
  • Stop smoking as nicotine tends to disrupt sleep, and smoking worsens sleep quality.
  • Alcohol may induce asleep, but it tends to worsen the quality of sleep. Hence it’s best to moderate alcohol consumption and avoid it late in the night.
  • Caffeine is a stimulant and ought to be had in moderation and preferably avoided after late afternoon.
  • Try not to use your bed for anything aside than sleep and intimacy, in order for your body to associate bed with sleep.

Dr Vikas Punamiya Dr Vikas Punamiya

Dr Vikas Punamiya is a consultant pulmonologist and sleep physician at Masina Hospital in Mumbai.