Catching the elusive Zzzzs

“Thou ist in dire need of resting thyself” This sentence may seem straight out of some archaic literature. And why should not it? It is not something that we get to hear in today’s life. Sleep is some elusive entity squeezed in between breaks from work, college, schools, hobbies, tuitions, eating, entertainment, talking, reading, typing, and breathing. No wonder, most of us do not get a chance to catch up on some beauty sleep.

This brings us to the phrase ‘catching sleep’. Sleep has become something that we have to run behind and catch with great efforts. With all the deadlines and seemingly never-ending lists of things to do, almost everyone has to struggle to complete the required hours of sleep. These requisites may differ, but on a general basis, an average adult requires 7 to 8 hours, adolescents require at least 9 hours and children need around 10 hours of sleep, for their proper physical and mental development. While you might gasp at these fantastic figures and shake your head in disagreement, there can be quite a few serious downsides of not allowing your body to complete this quota.

Children and adolescents rarely get to sleep, enough given their inability to fall asleep at night, early morning classes, work and social life. This problem has particularly grown worse in the past decade, because of the increasing levels of competition and peer pressure. This can lead to irritation, headaches, and lack of self-confidence, mood swings depression, and sleepiness at odd hours. Even the immune system’s efficiency can decrease due to lack of sleep.

Adults beware! The price of inadequate sleep can be much higher, scaring everyone with your vampire like face (red eyes + pale face + alternatively dazed and irritated expression=Count Dracula). Heart disease, diabetes, constipation and the dreaded obesity are all associated with sleep deprivation. Most of the people like to catch up on their sleep druing the weekends, but it seldom works that way. Oversleeping occasionally will not help reduce the backlog.

So what does one do to get the necessary hours of rest? Some of the precautions like avoiding exercise and stimulants four hours before sleeping, turning off the lights and sleeping in a cooler room, not doing any work on the place where you sleep, are quite easy to practice. In addition, attention should be on setting your body clock in a way to sleep wake at the same time every day.

One of the ways for doing this is engaging in the most demanding activities early in the mornings, facing the sun for 15 minutes as soon as you can in the morning (doing Suryanamaskar will be even more beneficial) and taking a hot bath 90 minutes before you sleep. Also, one can develop bedtime rituals like listening to soft music and drinking a glass of milk, which will tell the body that it is time to go to bed.

By implementing small things like these in our lives, we can ensure that we stay alert throughout the day and perform to our best, instead of sleep walking throughout. We should take advantage of the fact that the earth alternates between day and night, thus, giving living organisms an opportunity to rejuvenate themselves. This will help us retain the resemblance to the most advanced species on this planet. (And I certainly don’t imply to zombies or Dracula here!)
Nidhi Kulkarni

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