By: Ali Jan Qadir
The embrace of sleep can be one of the most coveted things a person can ask for after a long day. While the reason we need sleep as yet eludes medical science, it is inarguably necessary. Most of us have experienced the feeling of being tired and spent and then gone to sleep only to wake up completely refreshed—so where does the stress and tiredness go? Well obviously something happens while a person sleeps which alleviates the physical, emotional and mental exhaustions of a day. Even doctors sometimes recommend sleep as a remedy to slight fevers and stress induced headaches etc.
The virtues of sleep are far and wide and affect us in critical ways. How we generally function; our physical and mental productivity, well-being, and activity are all related to the hours of sleep we put ourselves through. Even Psychological health has been found to be effected by our sleeping habits.
Sleep has a restorative quality. While we sleep our body calms down to very low metabolism rate (basal metabolism rate) and general tiredness falls off us as we are weaned off a tiring agent (adenosine) produced by our brain while we are awake. Repairs also take place as muscle growth, protein synthesis etc. are speeded up. So when we wake up we feel refreshed as both our cognitive and physical function have completely recovered and we are again full of energy.
Uninterrupted sleep also hugely impacts the capacity to learn and our memories. When we sleep the new information we have acquisitioned in the hours we were awake is stabilized and consolidated and is stored as memory from which it is easy to recall when we’re awake; so sleep helps retain knowledge and hence enhances our learning process and memory: It makes us more productive—why this is, is a matter of conjecture but studies have found this to be the case, the more hours of sleep the better memory recall and learning a person can have and therefore the more productive a person can be.
Sleep also affects the cognitive brain functions, for right handed people, the right side controlled functions of the brain like reflexes expressive and receptive speech, complex verbal and mathematical skill are all profoundly affected by sleep—the more one sleeps the sharper all these functions will become, being able to perceive and express things better will definitely improve the on our social lives so that is a plus most will welcome.
Nowadays, in the internet age: with everything happening at super speeds and connectivity at an all-time high people care less about sleeping habits and a healthy sleeping routine, they caffeine up and take life late into the night while making room for only patches of sleep. Lack of sleep can cause irritability, moodiness, stress, and even depression–which basically translateto a nose dive in the quality of life. Motivation levels start to tank and this can lead to even worse problems. And all this can turn into a vicious cycle as stress and depression are known to cause insomnia, so one can get caught in a very bad place if one isn’t careful about sleeping habits: A person’s peace of mind will completely be ruined by such a turn of events.
To overcome sleeping disorders a very basic and simple answer is to start exerting yourself physically. Physical exertion causes fatigue in the muscles and increases body temperature so in turn is compensated by the brain by adding hours to deep sleep by cooling down and allowing muscles to relax, and it also helps in making one sleep faster and easier. Mental activities also help as one can try their hands at things like Sudoku or simpler still trying to use your unfavorable hand( left hand for someone who is right handed) etc. This improves sleep regulation by the brain as its activity rate is improved. Distractions are also a source of lack of sleep which needs to be removed. But that doesn’t mean that one should tax the brain, because it needs to calm down for sleep to come. So the brain should be allowed to be in a relaxed state when a person is about to go to sleep—about a couple hours before bedtime that is. Caffeine drinks like Tea and Coffee or soft drinks, Alcohol and other such beverages should be avoided because both adversely affect sleep; caffeine is a well-known brain stimulant while Alcohol although it makes one drowsy at first ruins sleep after a couple of hours as it has slow acting stimulants. Another important thing is to correct one’s biological clock by making a steady routine for bedtime and getting up in the morning.
So by getting an ample amount of sleep on a regular basis one can avoid all the issues that may pop up from sleep deprivation and restore ones peace of mind, sleep is also a stress relieving exercise and additionally on top of it powers of rejuvenation it also increases productivity so it not only maintains one’s quality of life it actually improves on it. So while ‘early to bed, and early to rise, makes you healthy, wealthy and wise’ may be a clichéd and hackneyed phrase it is in fact a wise motto to believe in.
Ali Jan Qadir is passionate about sharing what he learns. His articles always aims to give useful advice to his readers. His writing ranges from productivity to art. He also runs a blog about sleep and beds where his questions answers like what’s the best bed for back sleepers.