Sweetness of the word “Good Night”
The increasing demands of the modern world have changed the definition of the term “a good night’s sleep”. Sleeping for 7-8 hours at a stretch during night is now considered to be a luxury by many. The current nature of jobs and the urban conditions that we live in hardly allow a person to take rest for such long hours. With the advancements in technology, outsourcing of work to different countries has become a dream come true. People working for call centre organizations, MNCs, etc. need to work in different shifts and even have to be ready to sacrifice their good night sleep. Due to the exponential increase in the cost of living and the desire to fulfill the demands of the family members, a modern man is subjected to a constant pressure. Almost one in every three succumbs to the silent devil known as “stress” which affects the body in multiple ways, including sleep deprivation.
Even though we know that a good sleep at night provides us with many obvious benefits like providing rest, keeping us alert and active during the next day, increasing concentration, etc, we ignore sleep either forced by the circumstances or voluntarily. The net result is devastating health problems. Current research has identified the link between the good night sleep and improvised health of the brain.
Positive health benefits of a good night sleep
Services the body
We leave our vehicles in service stations occasionally so that all the hidden problems get rectified and our vehicle starts working with full energy. Similarly, as we are biological organisms, we need regular servicing. Good sleep acts as a service station, servicing all the aspects of our body in some way or another. We feel relaxed even after a very tiring day when we have a good sleep. It regulates the metabolic cycle is such a manner that our body starts functioning with new energy.
Facilitates memory retention
A good sleep improves the skills acquired during the day and consolidates our memory. Many people have a misconception that sleep brings the brain to a temporary halt; rather brain switches to a different shift and starts practicing a learned skill.
Improves the physical performance
Lactic acid gets accumulated in our muscles when we work out vigorously, leading to pain in the body after a tiresome workout. A relaxed sleep facilitates aerobic respiration and removes the excess of this accumulated lactic acid from our body. Sleep allows the rebuilding of the muscle tissues, and the growth hormones released during sleep enhances this recovery. The net effect is improved physical performance which is recognized by many athletes.
Improves the academic performance
Many of us spend the whole night before the books with a hope of getting good marks in the subsequent examinations. On the contrary, when you are tired and feeling sleepy, it affects many aspects like logical thinking, power of reasoning, problem solving, paying attention to minute details, etc. This decreases ones productivity and academic performance. In fact, a good sleep makes the memory permanent; hence sacrificing sleep is of no use many times.
Boosts the immune system
A good sleep protects us from many problems including common cold, as it boosts up our immune system. Chronic sleeplessness increases the concentration of cytokine molecules and inflammatory proteins like C reactive protein, which control the immune response of the body. Unwanted inflammatory response is triggered by these molecules, which in turn, is a mother of a number of health problems like heart disease, various types of arthritis, accelerated aging, diabetes mellitus and strokes.
Longstanding sleeplessness leads to acute psychological problems like depression.
Current research proves that sleep can protect our brain from damage
A study conducted at Uppsala University, Sweden, shows that a sound sleep for at least 8 hours during night prevents brain damage and promotes normal functioning of the brain cells. Their study group consisted of 15 normal men. Sleep deprivation for even one night increased the concentration of two brain molecules in blood, NSE, a neuronal enzyme and the calcium-binding protein S-100B, by the morning.
NSE (neuron specific enolase) and S-100B are brain derived proteins which serve as peripheral biomarkers for brain injury. Increase in the levels of these proteins has been noticed in various diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, cardiac arrest, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, etc. S-100B is predominantly released by astrocytes and NSE acts as a cytoplasmatic glycolytic pathway enzyme. Their levels in the cerebrospinal fluid and blood vary under different brain pathologies.
Even though these molecules increased by only 20% when compared to the condition when the subjects were allowed to sleep for 8 hours, scientists feel that this increase in the concentration can trigger the neurodegenerative process.
What should we do?
- Try to avoid everything which disturbs our good night sleep for example, TV, mobiles, etc.
- If you are stressed, try to practice some relaxing exercises to have a sound sleep.
- Stay away from certain stimulants like caffeine during nights which keep you awake.
- People suffering from sleep problems like insomnia should consult the doctor so that the problem gets corrected.
- Breathing exercises and a few yogic exercises helps you to relax to get a sound sleep.
Do not consider sleep to be a luxury, rather consider it a necessity. That is how nature possibly designed our bodies.