While having a hectic schedule or missing sleep due to some work or binge watching stuff late at night every study shows that good sleep is as crucial as daily exercise and a balanced diet. We as humans have taken sleep very lightly and have played games with our 7-8hours of sleep cycle. 

Evidence indicates that poor sleep has direct detrimental impacts on hormones, exercise, and brain activity. It may also cause weight gain and increase the risk of illness in both adults and children.

Healthy sleep, on the other hand, will make you eat less, exercise more, and be happier.

Sleep quality and quantity have deteriorated over the last few decades. In reality, many people get bad sleep regularly. If you wish to boost your health or lose weight, having a decent night’s sleep is one of the most important things you need to do.

The science that falls behind sleep 

The internal “body clock” controls the sleep cycle, regulating whether you feel exhausted and ready to go to bed or refreshed and alert. The clock runs on a 24-hour loop known as the circadian rhythm. Since waking up from sleep, you’re getting exhausted every day. These emotions will peak in the evening leading to bedtime.

This sleep drive – also known as sleep-wake homeostasis – can be associated with adenosine, an organic compound formed in the brain. Adenosine levels rise during the day as you get sleepy, and the body breaks down during sleep.

Light affects the circadian cycle, too. The brain includes a particular area of nerve cells known as the hypothalamus, and a cluster of cells in the hypothalamus called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which absorbs signals while the eyes are subjected to natural or artificial light. These signs allow the brain to decide whether it is day or night.

When ambient light falls in the evening, the body releases melatonin, a hormone that triggers somnolence. When the sun rises in the morning, the body releases the hormone known as cortisol that stimulates stamina and alertness.

Stages of sleep 

Stage 1: NREM

This first step marks the transition from wakefulness to sleep and consists of light sleep. Muscles relax, your heart rate, pulse, and eye movements tend to slow down, as do your brain waves, which are more involved when you wake up. Stage 1 normally lasts for a few minutes.

Stage 2: NREM

This second NREM sleep stage is marked by deeper sleep as the pulse rate and breathing rate begin to slow down and muscle relaxation. Face movements will stop and the temperature of the body will decrease. Apart from certain fleeting periods of higher-frequency electrical stimulation, brain waves often remain sluggish. Stage two is normally the longest of the four sleep periods.

Stage 3: NREM

This stage has a crucial part to play in creating you feel energized and alert the next day. Heartbeat, breathing, and brain wave action all attain their lowest levels, and also the muscles are as relaxed as they are. This stage will be longer at first and the time will be shortened during the night.

Stage 4: REM

The first REM stage is about 90 minutes after you fall asleep. As the name suggests, beneath your eyelids, your eyes can travel back and forth rapidly. Breathing rate, pulse rate, and blood pressure will continue to climb. 

Dreaming will normally happen during REM sleep, and your arms and legs will get paralyzed – it’s thought that this is supposed to keep you from acting physically on your visions. The length of a REM sleep period changes as the night progresses. 

Numerous studies have also associated REM sleep with memory consolidation, the mechanism of transforming newly acquired impressions into long-term memories.

The length of the REM stage will decline as you age, allowing you to spend more time at the NREM stage.

Good Sleep

Reasons why good sleep is important

1. You consume fewer calories

Studies suggest that sleep-deprived people have a larger appetite and prefer to consume more calories.

Sleep deficiency disrupts daily changes of appetite hormones and is suspected to induce impaired control of appetite.  This contains higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that activates the appetite, and lower levels of leptin, a hormone that suppresses the appetite.

2. Lower chances of weight gain

The relation between weight gain and obesity and short sleep cycles is not entirely clear. There have been many studies over the years that have linked obesity and poor sleep habits. However, a more recent report in the journal Sleep Medicine concludes that there is no correlation between overweight and sleep deprivation. This study argues that many of the previous reports have not properly taken into account other considerations, such as:

  • Drink alcohol
  • To deal with type 2 diabetes
  • Physical activity standard
  • Long hours of work
  • Long sedentary era

Lack of sleep may affect a person’s desire or ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but it may or may not directly contribute to weight gain.

3. Lower risks of heart problems 

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting enough rest every night allows blood pressure to be regulated by the body.

This will reduce the risks of sleep-related disorders, such as apnea, and encourage improved overall heart health.

Sleep inconsistency and length may have a significant influence on multiple health risk factors. These are the causes that are known to drive cardiovascular illnesses, including heart disease.

An analysis of 15 studies showed that people who do not get enough sleep are at a much higher risk of heart attack or stroke than those who sleep 7–8 hours per night.

4. Prevents depression 

The relationship between sleep and mental health has been the subject of research for decades. One argument is that there is a connection between lack of sleep and depression. 

Research in JAMA Psychiatry explores rates of suicidal mortality over 10 years. It concludes that the lack of sleep is a factor leading to all of these deaths. Another research in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychology shows that individuals with sleeping problems, such as insomnia, are likely to exhibit symptoms of depression.

5. Extra social and emotional intelligence 

Sleep is related to people’s mental and social intellect. Someone who does not get enough sleep is more likely to have trouble understanding other people’s thoughts and gestures.

For instance, one study in the Journal of Sleep Research looks into people’s reactions to emotional stimuli. The researchers concluded that a person’s moral sympathy is lower if he or she does not get enough sleep.

How to get better sleep? 

1. Try and go to bed and wake up at the same time daily

This helps you set your body’s internal clock and optimize the quality of your sleep. Choose a bedtime when you generally feel sleepy, so you don’t have to toss and switch. If you get enough sleep, you can wake up spontaneously with no alarm. If you need an alarm clock, you might need an early bedtime.

2. Stop sleeping in—even on the weekends

The more different your weekend/week sleep schedules are, the worse the jetlag-like effects you will feel. If you need to make up for a late-night, go for a daytime nap instead of a night’s sleep. This helps you to pay off your sleep debt without disrupting your normal sleep-wake cycle.

3. Be smart about naps

 Although napping is a good way to make up for lost time, whether you have trouble sleeping or dark hours of  sleep at night, napping can make it worse. Restrict the nap time to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon and try not to exceed the same. 

4. Fight sleepiness after dinner 

If you get a lazy way before bedtime, get off the sofa and do something slightly relaxing, such as cleaning dishes, texting a friend, or getting your clothes ready for the next day. If you give in to this trap of sleeping right away after having dinner, you will lose your night sleep and will have to become a night owl and face trouble going back to sleep.

5. Regulate the exposure to light

Melatonin is a naturally occurring, light-controlled hormone that helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark—makes you sleepy—and less when it’s light—makes you more aware. However, certain facets of daily life will change the melatonin development of your body and adjust your circadian rhythm. Here’s how you can affect your exposure to light:

In the morning, open yourself to the warm sunshine. The closest you get to the moment you get up, the better. Get your coffee outdoors, for example, or have breakfast in the sunshine window. The sun on your face is going to make you wake up

At night keep your phone at a distance from where it is not accessible before heading to sleep. Why?? The blue light emitted by your handset, smartphone, tablet or even laptop  is extremely disruptive. You can minimize the effect of using smaller screen screens, by changing the brightness down, or by using light-altering applications such as f.lux.

Say no to late-night binge watching.Not only does the light of any gadget  inhibit melatonin, but also stimulates programs rather than soothing. Instead, consider listening to music or audiobooks or podcasts which will make you fall asleep.  Don’t read it with backlit cameras. Tablets that are backlit are more intrusive than e-readers that do not have their light source. 

Now that you know good sleep is so essential for your health and wellbeing, go get some quality rest that you deserve!