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A good night’s sleep is good for your health

Sleep Image ID: 85732988 (L). Image credit: dinodia / 123rf
Image credit: dinodia / 123rf

A healthy sleep pattern is a vital component of our wellbeing, but many Indians do miss out. 

Today marks World Sleep Day, with the theme “Regular Sleep, Healthy Future.” This is the fourteenth annual observance of the occasion and it is significant given how healthy sleeping patterns benefit us. As previously reported by Health Issues India, healthy sleeping can aid in the fight against heart disease. My colleague Nicholas Parry wrote how the findings of one study indicated that “too little sleep — notably, below six hours — was found to increase the risk of atherosclerosis. The data indicated that after all other factors were accounted for, the risk of atherosclerosis rose by 27 percent in those consistently attaining less than six hours. 

“This issue works the other way too. If an individual was found to be sleeping for too long, similar increases in risks were observed. The study specified that among the participants the number who slept more than eight hours was low, but it was found that women who slept more than eight hours showed an observable rise in atherosclerosis risk. While the study specifies women, it may not be the case that the increased risk only applies to women, simply that there may have been limitations in the participant group.” 

Despite this, many Indians do struggle with their sleep. Last year, The Hindu Business Line quoted neuroscientist Swamy Subramaniam as characterising sleep deprivation as an “epidemic” in the country. The article highlighted that “sleep deprivation is one of the reasons behind the rising incidence of serious illnesses — diabetes, heart attack and cancer, among others — in young and middle-aged Indians. This is an age group whose sleep hours are often given over to late nights at work, binge watching on TV and smartphones. Medical professionals explain why it’s time to switch off completely, come bedtime:” 

During the pandemic, and indeed before, many of us cultivated an unhealthy relationship with our screens. In the instance of young people, many children exhibited a heightened reliance on electronic devices during India’s first lockdown; a study carried out last year during the first lockdown found that 45 percent of young people were experiencing a detrimental effect on their sleep health as a result of reduced physical activity and increased screen times. 

Sleep health is a must for health overall. The World Sleep Society outlines ten recommendations to promote one’s own sleep health. They include to “establish a regular bedtime and waking time; if you are in the habit of taking siestas, do not exceed 45 minutes of daytime sleep; avoid excessive alcohol ingestion four hours before bedtime, and do not smoke; avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime (his includes coffee, tea and many sodas, as well as chocolate); avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods four hours before bedtime (a light snack before bed is acceptable); exercise regularly, but not right before bed; use comfortable, inviting bedding; find a comfortable sleep temperature setting and keep the room well ventilated; block out all distracting noise and eliminate as much light as possible; [and] reserve your bed for sleep and sex, avoiding its use for work or general recreation.” 

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