World Sleep Day: Are you sleeping well?

Bindu Gopal Rao
Friday, 13 March 2020

This World Sleep Day (March 13), make a promise to yourself to sleep better as it can help you beat any virus and stay at the top of your game.

At a recent media round table by Wakefit.co, a research and innovation-driven sleep solutions company, co-founder and director Chaitanya Ramalingegowda launched the #SleepIndiaSleep Movement where anyone who is interested in sleeping better and leading a healthier lifestyle can win a prize of Rs 10 lakh and be crowned ‘India’s Sleep Champion’. 

However, the deeper issue of the importance of sleep and the health and science behind sleep articulated by holistic lifestyle coach Luke Coutinho, and scientist, Centre for Consciousness Studies, NIMHANS Dr Arun Sasidharan, was the highlight of the session.

The need for sleep
The need for sleep is a pertinent topic of conversation in today’s times, especially with India being the second-most sleep-deprived country in the world. “Sleep is the first casualty when anything goes wrong at home or at work. Likewise, a rise in stress levels means that your sleep gets affected,” says Ramalingegowda. 

Wakefit.co has data on how 1.4 lakh Indians are sleeping and the problems that they are facing. Incidentally, sleep has its own cycles like non rapid eye movement (REM) and REM sleep. When you initially sleep, there is non-REM sleep for about 40 minutes which transcends to REM sleep and throughout the night, there is a sleep cycle of this. Dr Arun Sasidharan, who has done a lot of sleep research to get a better understanding of the dynamics of sleep and thereby consciousness, says, “Sleep recoups the ability of the brain to process information and is something that must not be compromised.” 

Incidentally, sleep is just not about rest and has been used to help people overcome trauma through lucid dreaming. “When a person dreams of a traumatic episode of their lives, they are able to look at it from the outside and give a narrative to sustain it as well as a sense of control that can actually help them heal better and faster,” adds Sasidharan. In fact, medical practitioners are inducing lucid dreaming using neuro modulation where the brain is electrically stimulated during the day using Transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) which are external micro currents.

The right environment
The role of the environment also plays an important part in your sleep. If for instance, your sleep area is a cramped space that you also use to work, the brain needs a cue to help you sleep in the place that is also where you work. While the situation of using your mattress as a space to work is best avoided, you can change the environment before you sleep. This can be easily achieved by using a new fragrance, a pillow mist or air mist to change the smell of a room before you sleep so that your brain recognises this altered sense of smell as an association with your sleep time. 

The importance of sleeping well and sleeping right is important. Sleep helps to boost your immunity levels as the body can repair and rejuvenate itself. “Virus affects people with low immunity and poor sleep patterns harms the immunity of the body and healing is not possible if you don’t sleep well. Quality of sleep rather than number of hours matters a lot as waking up feeling refreshed is very important. Making lifestyle changes is a must for better sleeping cycles. Using guided meditation apps can be quite helpful too,” avers Coutinho. 

Incidentally Dr Matt Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychologist and British scientist, has indicated that even a couple of nights of sleep deprivation can lower your immunity by 60 per cent. Remember that sleep is a mechanism that is inbuilt in all of us and that needs to be respected. A good night’s sleep will help you handle a problem better as there is a direct link between good emotional health and a good night’s sleep. So, make sure that you sleep well and take charge of your life, it will also help you beat all kinds of viruses including the Corona.

Sleep wins
Registrations for the #SleepIndiaSleep Movement will be open from March 13 to 31. Applicants need to download a sleep tracker app and sync it with the Wakefit.co microsite to log in their sleep detail. The leader board ranking on the microsite will display the real-time rankings at city, state as well as the national level. City and state level prizes will be announced every week. The national level prize for Rs 10 lakh will be announced thereafter.

Tips to Sleep

  • Set aside at least 8 hours for sleep.
  • Plan your day for 16 hours and exercise self-discipline when you use social media.
  • Do not use gadgets for an hour before you sleep.
  • Do not eat your dinner late as this will hamper your sleep as food converts to energy. 
  • Try to sleep at around the same time every night.
  • Regular practice of meditation can help you sleep better in the night. Research indicates that     people in their 60s with a history of meditation practice slept as well as those in their 40s.

 

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