Summary: Good sleep is as essential to good health and longevity as diet and exercise, and yet it remains neglected. People need to sleep for seven or more hours to ensure good health. Some simple measures like following a sleep schedule, improving the sleep environment, and engaging in activities that promote sleep may help boost mental and physical health and thus promote longevity.
We all need to spend almost one-third of our life sleeping. Yet, it is unbelievable how little we know about sleep. Sleep remains a mystery to a great degree for science. Nonetheless, we know that sleep is the time to revive, regenerate, detoxify, and more. Researchers are increasingly realizing that lack of sleep or poor sleep is a significant contributing factor to the rise of various chronic ailments, along with wrong dietary choices and insufficient physical activity levels.
Thus, if you want to boost your performance, wellness, and longevity, you must focus on improving your sleep, diet, and physical activity level. Understanding sleep When it comes to sleep, there are many things to be understood. First, one needs to improve both the quality and quantity of sleep. Humans need to sleep, on average, for about seven hours a day. But, additionally, sleep quality is also equally vital.
During sleep, the human brain goes through multiple cycles of so-called non-REM (non-rapid eye movement) and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Non-REM is further divided into a few stages: light sleep, deep sleep, and the deepest sleep. It all starts with Non-REM and is followed by REM sleep.
While sleeping, people go through multiple non-REM and REM cycles, with each cycle lasting for about 90 to 120 minutes. How well the cycle is maintained decides the sleep quality. If the cycle is disrupted frequently, it results in poor sleep quality, and one wakes up feeling tired the next morning, despite spending sufficient time in the bed.
Apart from sleep duration and sleep cycle, there is another important thing to understand, which is circadian rhythm. People are more likely to sleep well if they go to bed at a fixed time and get up at a specified time. However, the circadian rhythm of individuals differs, and thus there are owls and starks. Some like going to bed early, while others late. Following the circadian rhythm also ensures good mental and physical health.
To stay healthy, one also needs to ensure sufficient sleep efficiency. It means ensuring that who long does not sleeps when lying in bed. Therefore, it is a good idea to maintain a sleep efficiency of above 85%. It means that one should be asleep for more than 85% of the time when in bed.
Though there are significant individual differences, ensuring sufficient sleep is essential for mental and physical health. Chronic sleep deprivation causes impulsivity, poor concentration, depression, and other mental health issues.
Poor sleep is also associated with a higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, body aches, and other health issues. Sleep hygiene for sound health
Improving sleep quality can also lower the risk of many health issues. Therefore, below are some of the tips to enhance your sleep quality.
Follow a sleep schedule: it means going to bed at a fixed time. Avoid going to bed late. Similarly, limit daytime napping. Sleep environment means keeping the room dark and making your bed comfortable. Avoid using the bed for anything else except sleep and sex. Further, ensure optimal room temperature, avoid using gadgets in the bed, do not watch television, and more.
Engage in activities that promote sleep: spend some time in the sun, especially early in the morning, as it helps improve circadian rhythm. Also, engage in physical activities, and a physically tired person is more likely to have a sound sleep. Certain evening routines, like a warm shower, may also help. Also, pay attention to dietary factors, as some foods promote sleep while others do not.
By Gurpreet Singh Padda, MD, MBA, MHP