Sleep is a sedentary state of body and mind. There are many important connections between health and sleep. Getting adequate sleep is essential for helping a person maintain optimal health and well- being. Depending on the age group the sleep requirement varies. As a person age they require less sleep to function properly. sufficient quality sleep has many health benefits, so sleep is as vital as regular exercise and eating a balanced diet
HOW MUCH SLEEP A PERSON NEED?
The quality of sleep is as important as the quantity of sleep. According to new studies the breakdown is as follows
NEWBORNS (0-3 MONTHS) 14-17 HRS
INFANTS (4-12 MONTHS) 12-16 HRS
TODDLER (1-2 YEARS) 11-14 HRS
PRESCHOOL (3-5 YEARS) 10-13 HRS
SCHOOL AGE (6-12 YEARS) 9-12 HRS
TEEN (12-18 YEARS) 8-10 HRS
ADULT (19-60 YEARS) 7 PLUS HRS
ADULT (61-64 YEARS) 7-9 HRS
ADULT (65+ YEARS) 7-8 HRS
The symptoms of insufficient sleep are waking in the middle of the night and not be able to sleep again and even after adequate quality of sleep still not feeling fresh.
STAGES OF SLEEP
Mainly it can be divided into 4 stages
STAGE 1 – LIGHT SLEEP
The transition from wakefulness to sleep characterized by slowing of heartbeat, breathing and eye movement
STAGE 2 – DEEPER SLEEP
It is characterized by relaxation of muscles, drop in body temperature and slowing of brain wave activity. Eye movements stop completely during this stage.
STAGE 3 – DEEPEST SLEEP
Also called as slow wave sleep at this stage muscle relaxes completely and is hardest to awaken form sleep walking, bedwetting etc. occurs during this stage
STAGE 4 – DREAMING
At this stage dreaming mostly occurs and eyes move rapidly from side to side with eye lids closed and increased heart rate and breathing can be experienced.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF SLEEP
A healthy amount of sleep is vital for brain plasticity
Boost memory and performance
Inadequate sleep can affect the brain functioning whereas sufficient sleep helps in processing thoughts from the day as well as store memories. It also improves focusing and performance at school or work. By affecting stress hormones sleep deprivation may affect cognition.
Lower obesity risk
The sleep disruption can lead to increase in levels of Gherlin the hunger hormone, Salt retention and inflammatory markers. It also leads to increased fatigue which results in inability to exercise. These all factors lead to gaining weight so sufficient sleep is important in reducing obesity.
Greater athletic performance
Adequate sleep is essential for athletes as the body heals during sleep and it provides more energy, faster speed, better mental functioning etc.
Lower risk of heart disease
Getting sufficient rest each night helps in regulating the blood pressure which in turn reduces the chance of sleep related conditions such as sleep apnea and promote heart health.
Provide social and emotional intelligence
Proper sleep help in recognizing other people’s mental status and leads to maintain positive attitude and happiness in relationships
Insomnia is one of the symptoms of depression and may impair emotional regulation and stability.
Boost immune system
Sleep helps the body to repair regenerate and recover. Deep sleep is essential to repair the body and to boost immune system
REGULATION OF SLEEP CYCLE
The hormones secreted by brain place a major role in sleep cycle known as neurotransmitters which gets stimulated by light and darkness. The two main processes that regulate sleep are circadian rhythms and sleep drive. Former is controlled by a biological clock situated in the brain. In response to light this clock works that is it results in increased production of melatonin at night and switches it off when it senses light. As a result of this clock blind people have trouble sleeping. The sleep drive plays a key role which means the body builds a desire for sleep when it reaches a certain point. Whenever a person is exhausted the body is able to engage in micro sleep episodes of 1 or 2 seconds while your eyes are open. Thus, napping for more than 30mins during daytime can throw off your night sleep by decreasing sleep drive
GABA is a neurotransmitter which decreases the nerve cell activity and results on allowing the body to sleep. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter in brain which accumulates during the day and at high concentration helps in sleeping. Similarly, melatonin is released from brain when it is dark and it induce sleep, on exposure to light its production is inhibited and cortisol production is increased which awakens the body. Serotonin is another neurotransmitter which is released by brain during daylight and it is used being used to form melatonin at night
INSUFFICIENT OR POOR SLEEP
Lack of good quality sleep leads to impairment in brain functioning such as difficulty in focusing and thinking clearly. May feel tired, irritable or anxious during the day. It increases the risk of driving accidents. It also leads to obesity this is a result of change in hormones level that signals hunger or satiety. Leptin is a hormone that signals fullness but in obese persons leptin resistance is seen in which the brain does not receive the usual signal from leptin to stop eating this leads to over eating. Poor sleep can also lead to increase in ghrelin the hunger hormone released in gut which sends hunger signals to the brain
In children poor sleep results in attention and behavior problems or hyper activity. In elderly the insufficient sleep leads to decrease in focus and attention and results in greater risk of fall, bone fractures etc.
Reasons for insufficient sleep
Poor sleep habits such as drinking coffee or alcohol during late night can lead to inadequate sleep. Caffeine in coffee keep us awake as it blocks our brain receptors for adenosine which is a sleep- inducing hormone. Not following a regular sleep schedule also results in disturbed sleep. One should follow a time schedule to go for sleep daily
Sleep environment – Too noisy or too light environment can lead to inadequate sleep
Working or overnight shift – Which is against the body’s natural circadian clock which is trying to make up for sleep during day and may result in hormone imbalance this can lead to PCOD in female.
Sleep disorders are conditions that disturb your normal sleep patterns and affect the ability to sleep well on a regular basis. Sleep-wake disorders involve problems with the quality, timing and amount of sleep which results in daytime distress and impairment in functioning. It can occur along with depression, anxiety or cognitive disorders. The clinical symptoms of sleep disorders are
Difficulty in sleeping regularly.
Even after sleeping for 7hrs in the night feeling tired on the next day.
Reduced or impaired ability to perform regular daytime activities.
Some of the common sleep disorders are
it is a condition where people face difficulty in falling or staying asleep. The symptoms of insomnia are as follows.
Frequently waking up during the night and having trouble in going back to sleep
Waking up too early in the morning
Feeling lethargy, fatigue, sleepiness, problems with mood, concentration etc. during day time due too poor sleep.
It can be divided into 2 types
Acute insomnia / short term insomnia
Lasts from one night to a few weeks. The main causes of this type can be related job loss or change, death of loved one or moving or divorce, illness or environmental factors such as light, noise or extreme temperature.
It lasts for at least 3 nights a week for a month or longer can be caused by depression, chronic stress and pain or discomfort at night or a conditional emotional response, working different work shifts etc, disrupts the body’s circadian rhythms.
It causes oxygen levels to drop during sleep, which can pose a stress on the heart, brain, and other organs. This disorder occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep.
Two types of sleep apnea are
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
The main symptoms include snoring or gasping of air that causes interruption in sleep, daytime sleepiness, fatigue etc. The reason for this is blockage of airway due to soft tissue collapse in the back of the throat obesity is a risk factor in this disorder
Central sleep apnea
In this type the function of central nervous system is affected. The airway is not blocked but brain fails to tell the body to breathe
Restless legs syndrome
It is characterized by discomfort in legs which is accompanied by leg movements and it leads to sleep disruption. Abnormal levels of dopamine or low levels of iron can be a reason for this condition. This syndrome may lead to daytime sleepiness, irritability and concentration.
In this sleep regulation is affected. It is a neurological disorder; symptoms include daytime sleepiness and intermittent and uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep during the daytime.
DIAGNOSTIC TECHNIQUES FOR SLEEP DISORDER
A sleep study or polysomnogram can be done to determine sleep disorder. It is an electronic arrangement which records physical activities while sleeping and it is recorded by a healthcare provider who will record the data and analyze the results. Noting down your sleep habits and discussing it with your healthcare provider will help in solving sleep disorders. In some case medical intervention is also needed.
TREATMENT FOR SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleep disorders affect the quality of life. That is why it is important to get treated
Those who are having lot of stress can be benefited by counselling sessions. The sleep specialist helps in recognizing the stress including thoughts so that it can be challenged and changed
Medications or supplements
If needed consult a psychiatrist who can help you with medications which provide good sleep. Some of the medications are melatonin, zolpidem, gabapentin, modafinil etc.
Regular physical activities such as walking, yoga, workout all will help in achieving sleep drive which in turn results in good sleep.
MEASURES TO BE TAKEN TO GET RESTFUL SLEEP
Our sleep is regulated by hormones from brain. These are influenced by light and darkness so it is important to follow a sleep schedule. Follow a sleep pattern such that there is a fixed time to go to bed at night and to awake in the morning around the same time. Thus, the circadian rhythm can be regulated
Regular exercise results in muscles relaxation and this can create a sleep drive within the body. Avoid intensive exercises like running and dancing before 1hour of sleep.
EATING AND DRINKING HABBIT
Avoid heavy meals and oily foods at night. Always take dinner 3hours before going to bed. Alcohol and caffeinated beverages if needed should be taken 4-6 hours before bed time.
The exposure to blue light from the electronic gadgets can lead to poor sleep. Use of electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, television etc. should be stopped 1hour before sleep.
SCHEDULE BEFORE BED ACTIVITIES
This includes brushing teeth and changing to night dress which helps the brain to send signals for sleep.
Setup an environment which is dark and quiet so that the sleep does not get disrupted.
Too hot or too cold bedrooms can disrupt the sleep so before going to bed maintain room temperature to your comfort level.
BED TIME RITUALS
This includes deep breathing exercises, listening to relaxing music, practicing meditation etc
While going to bed keep all the negative thoughts away from the mind. Cleaning the mind can be achieved by writing things down.
If you awake in between sleep and find it difficult to sleep back again then get up and do activities such as reading that can make you feel tired so that can fall back to sleep.
Use bed only for sleeping. Avoid eating, working, and watching television in bed.
DIETARY AND LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO BE FOLLOWED
A balanced and consistent diet which includes mostly of vegetables and fruits will promote sleep. Some of the food choices for better sleep includes
It’s sleep promoting effect can be correlated to its anti-oxidant properties or high concentration of serotonin hormone.
It consists of average concentrations of melatonin which regulate circadian rhythm
Milk contains melatonin this is a natural source of the sleep producing hormone
It helps in body’s regulation of serotonin hormone
Like almonds, walnuts, cashews etc. contain good amount of melatonin, magnesium and zinc that provides better sleep.
Intake of carbohydrate around four hours before bed time help in improving sleep
There are certain food and drink that are to be avoided such as
Limit caffeine intake
Alcohol consumption should be avoided at night
Avoid heavy and oily food at night
Avoid late dinner, have dinner 3hours before sleep
When it comes to lifestyle regular exercise, sleep hygiene, sleep schedule, bedtime rituals, reducing usage of mobile, tablet Etc should be followed which will help in promoting sleep.
In Ayurveda sleep is termed as “NIDRA”. It is one among the “TAYOPASTAMBHA” that means three pillars of life. This includes ahara (diet), nidra (sleep) and brahmacharya (abstinence) through which one can attain health. According to sushrutha acharya sleep is nothing but temporary loss of contact with jnanendriya and karmendriya (sense organs).
Ayurveda states that qualities of mind are tamas and sattva, those regulate sleep, when tamas increases person sleeps and when sattva increases person wakes-up.
CLASSIFICATION OF SLEEP
Sleep can be classified into several types namely tamobhava (increases tamas), sleshmasamubdhava (increases kapha dosha), manashrama sambhava (psychological factors), shareera shrama sambhava (physical factors-exhaustion), agantuki (outside factors), vyadhyanuvarthini (related to diseases suffered by patients) and ratrisambhavaja (normal night sleep).
The sleep can also be divided according to dosha namely:
1.VATAJA NIDRA: this type consists of irregular and light sleep which is also characterized by grinding teeth, walking and talking in sleep. Once awaken, they feel difficulty in sleep again.
2.PITTAJA NIDRA: this is a kind of disturbed sleep with active dreams which are fiery and vivid.
3.KAPHAJA NIDRA: this category refers to heavy sleepers and they cannot be easily disturbed or awakened. The dreams will be calm, smooth and emotional.
BENEFITS OF SLEEP ACCORDING TO AYURVEDA:
1.DHATUSAMYA: it means balancing body tissues.
- BALA: It promotes strength to body.
- SLESHMAPUSHNATI: Nourishment to the body parts. Enough rest to body and mind is required for rejuvenating the body.
- AYUSHYA: provides longevity and improves quality of life.
AHARA AND VIHARA WHICH HELPS IN INDUCING SLEEP
Sneha (unctuous substance)
Madhya (alcoholic drinks)
Gramya, Anupa and oudaka rasa (meat soup)
The therapies to be followed include:
1.Abhyangam (Oil application on the body)
2.Utsadanam (powder massage)
3.Snana (medicated bath)
4.Manasugha (being positive and happy)
5.Lepam on Head (medicated paste application)
7.Sughasayya (Using comfortable mattress)
8.Murdhini taila (application of medicated oil on head)
YOGA FOR SLEEP
Yoga can also be considered as an exercise which in turn results in sleep drive. There are certain pranayama and asanas which helps in promoting sleep. Pranayama or breathing will help in relaxing the mind and body which is an essential factor to induce sleep. Ujjayi breath also known as ocean breath in which the person has to inhale deeply through the nose and exhale through the nose while constricting the back of your throat with their mouth closed.
ASANAS THAT CAN BE PRACTISED:
Thus, getting enough sleep helps to stay healthy and alert. It helps the body to reset and repair for another day. It boosts metabolism and keeps a check on obesity. In contrast poor sleep has adverse effects on hormone levels, exercise performance and brain function.
Taking all these factors into consideration, at Agni Ayurvedic Village, we provide an optimal sleep environment which keeps you away from the claustrophobia of the city. In our Ayurvedic rejuvenation center, the scenic beauty and the mountain view helps in relaxing the mind. in addition to this, the Ayurvedic therapies such as shirodhara, abhyangam, talam, shiropichu, etc will help to calm down physically. The food which we serve is wholesome which again contributes to proper sleep. Attending 3 sessions of yoga which includes asanas, pranayama and meditation helps to relax mentally and physically. Our center can be considered as a stress relief center as we go deep into the etiology of sleep disorders and help the person to be free from it by all the means which includes dietary changes, lifestyle changes, yoga, Ayurvedic therapies and sleep hygiene techniques.