by Muskaan Mehta
Sleep is undoubtedly a major component of healthy living.
A healthy sleeping pattern is as important as a nutritious and vitamin-rich diet. Due to changing sleep patterns, many people—especially night-shift employees—suffer from insomnia and a lack of sleep. This can lead to damaging short and long-term consequences on health and well-being.
On the occasion of the World Sleep Day observed on March 17 every year, Dr. Ramana Prasad V. Velamuru, a Sleep Specialist at KIMS Hospital, shares his views on this topic.
Below is a Q&A with the doctor, where he explains the ways and means to prioritize healthy sleeping patterns and effectively manage sleep-related disorders despite working in night shifts.
Q1. What is the importance of sleep?
A. Sleep is a naturally recurring state of mind where there is altered consciousness, relatively inhibited sensory activity, inhibition of voluntary muscles, and reduced interactions with surroundings. Sleep is very important for the human body and has a profound impact on health and well-being. In our fast-paced culture of productivity, a large number of people compromise on sleep, leading to a negative bodily impact.
Q2. What is the negative impact of inadequate sleep?
A. Inadequate sleep causes health issues like stress, mood swings and inability to concentrate in the short term. In the long term, it can lead to the advancement of diseases like diabetes, obesity, hypertension and cancer. Not only does this condition affect social relationships, but it’s also a public risk factor that leads to an increase in accident rates.
Q3. How can we improve our sleep patterns?
A. Those who work in night shifts, as well as those whose shifts change every week, must maintain regular sleep-wake cycles for at least seven days. This will help them cope with the shift system. Such people should also ensure that they sleep for a minimum of eight hours in bed.
If people find it difficult to sleep, they must practice a few simple tips that can facilitate a restful sleep.
Tips To Maintain Great Sleep Hygiene
Avoid napping during the day. It can disturb your normal pattern of sleep and wakefulness.
Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol too close to bedtime. While alcohol is well-known to speed the onset of sleep, it disrupts sleep in the second half as the body begins to metabolize the alcohol, leading to arousal.
Exercise can promote good sleep. Vigorous exercise should be done in the morning or late afternoon. A relaxing exercise, like yoga, can be done before bed to help initiate a restful night’s sleep.
Food can be disruptive right before sleep. Stay away from large meals close to bedtime.
Even dietary changes can cause sleep problems. If someone is struggling with a sleep problem, then it’s probably not a good time for them to start experimenting with spicy dishes. And, remember, chocolate has caffeine.
Ensure adequate exposure to natural light. This is particularly important for older people who may not venture outside as frequently as children and adults. Exposure to light helps maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine. Try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before trying to go to sleep. Don’t dwell on, or bring your problems to bed.
Associate your bed with sleep. It’s not a good idea to use your bed to watch TV, listen to the radio or read.
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