Aniket Suryawanshi, (23) a motion graphic artist, has anxiety. The pre-COVID world was no less challenging for him. “Due to changing work shifts, I couldn’t have a set routine. Lack of exercise, and improper diet and sleep would trigger my anxiety often. Though slowly, I figured my way out by setting a proper routine which helped me sleep well but then, this pandemic happened,” he shares.
Telling how he dealt with it, Suryawanshi says, “When things are not good around you, it triggers anxiety. However, this is the case with me; not every person who suffers from anxiety feels the same way. Also, if I get improper sleep, I feel dizzy, have high acidity and start feeling anxious. The COVID-19 outbreak compounded my problems.”
Routine is a must
Suryawanshi, however, found a way to work around it. “The very first thing I did was to convince myself that it is just a bad phase which shall pass. Of course, it is not the cure but it helped me a lot. Second, I made a fixed schedule for my food, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. It did improve my digestion and sleep. Another very important thing is to exercise,” he says.
He does indoor exercise and stretching in the morning. The adrenaline keeps him going, and helps him face anything and everything at the workplace, do home chores, and stay happy and healthy. “This routine keeps me stress free which plays a major role in having a sound sleep. To be honest, I sleep within 5 minutes once I go to bed which wasn’t the case before lockdown,” he says.
Sleep boosts recovery
Mudit Dandwate, co-founder of Dozee, which is a contact-free health monitor device that tracks heartbeat, respiration, sleep and stress-recovery with medical grade 98.4 per cent accuracy, has an interesting story to share.
The idea of Dozee, which gives continuous respiration data that too without the need of wires or any technical expertise, stemmed from a life-changing experience. Preparing for a marathon in 2017, Dandwate, along with his two dogs, jumped into a lake. But as he swam he saw a crocodile heading towards his dogs. He successfully saved his dogs but lost his left arm. During his recovery, he learnt that apart from medicine and good health care what helped him was meditation and a good amount of rest and sleep.
Lack of sleep is hazardous
A well-read person Dandwate says, “In the past one decade, most people slept for close to 7 hours 30 minutes, which has now come down to 6 hours 30 minutes. We spend one-third of our life sleeping and it is a time to rejuvenate.”
Sleep helps heal the body, and a very important stage of sleep is REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. “Your memory consolidation, creation of new synapses etc happen during sleep. It is a cycle. First, you get deep sleep, then light sleep and then REM. However, as the night progresses, your REM percentage increases and deep sleep percentage decreases. That’s why if you get up too early in the morning, you feel cranky or decision making is bad, it gets hard to focus,” says Dandwate.
One could also be at increased risk of diseases like slow metabolism, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality.
The good thing is that all that is reversible. “One of the good practices to have a good sleep is to have green tea. It boosts digestion and helps reduce core body temperature. Also, taking a hot shower does the exact same thing which helps initiate deep sleep,” says Dandwate adding that one should not do a lot of exercises before going to bed.
High-intensity exercises make you release a lot of adrenaline which keeps you up. Therefore, you should not do exercises post 8 pm. “If you want, you can take a short brisk walk at night to de-stress. In the morning, however, it is great. If you tire yourself throughout the day, it will help you sleep better at night,” concludes Dandwate.
How much sleep you need?
Youngsters under 20 years of age need around 9-10 hours of sleep.
People between the age category of 20-45 or 50, need to sleep for 7-9 hours.
Above 65 years, 7-8 hours of sleep will be sufficient for them.
Dr Sandeep Borse, consultant neurophysician at Jehangir Hospital, Pune, says that there are a few hazards of sleep deprivation. “One, you can experience fatigue, feel less energy, irritation, difficulty in concentration and decision making. Two, sleep deprivation can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, brain dementia, stroke and other diseases,” he says.
Talking about the benefits of sleep, Dr Borse says that it reduces weight, boosts mental well-being, and prevents high sugar, blood pressure and heart attacks, and boosts immunity to fight COVID-19 as well.
Symptoms of sleep deprivation
There are a few symptoms of improper sleep such as morning headache, sudden weight gain, and poor attention, concentration and memory during the day.
“One can toss and turn the entire night experiencing difficulty in initiating sleep, and hence spend less time in bed asleep,” he says adding that as you grow old, your requirement of sleep hours to nourish the brain and body diminishes.
Sleep hygiene practices
It is basically a behaviour to promote good sleep. To get a night of good sleep, one needs to change their behaviour. “The most important sleep hygiene practice is to spend an appropriate time asleep in bed — not too less, not in excess. Maintain a regular sleep routine, your schedule may change 20 minutes here and there but not more than that. Avoid daytime naps as it decreases your amount of sleep requirement in the night. It will cause sleep fragmentation and insomnia,” says Dr Borse.
He suggests exercising before 12 pm as it works as a brain stimulation which will eventually keep you active at night as well. Take a warm bath at night, meditate, avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea, and alcohol and cigarettes.