Sleep your way to health

Nothing is more appealing than a sound sleep after a fraught day. In order to make it nourishing, one has to sleep at least 6-7 hours. This habit enhances mental and physical health, repairs heart and blood vessels, rejuvenates muscle and synthesises hormones—more importantly, it helps maintain weight.

A lot of people sleep very little. They stay up late into night, and wake up early for work or school. This leads to short sleep during weekdays and long lie-in on holidays, to compensate sleep-debt. Too much sleep (more than nine hours) on a regular basis can lead to diabetes, heart disease, stroke and death. Sleep-debt on the other hand causes physical and mental health issues and even early death.

Teenagers should have enough sleep. Otherwise, they are more vulnerable to depression and addiction. Sleep deprivation, say researchers, affects putamen, an area of the brain putting somebody at the risk of depression. Because the area manages goal-based movements. Less sleep also influences moods, and is often linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Short and disrupted sleep are common among parents of young children. This could affect their mental and physical health.As for the elderly persons, either short sleep or long sleep on both weekdays and weekends means increased mortality. This is especially so in individuals under 65 years of age. Mothers who don't get enough sleep are more likely to engage in permissive parenting: the one marked by lax or inconsistent discipline.

There is a link between sleep duration and mortality, experts say. This is particularly so considering short (weekday) and long weekend sleep. It is time you set right your sleep pattern. Don’t take naps during the day; the extra rest may make you less sleepy at night. Exercise regularly.

Try gentle practice like restorative yoga at least 3-4 hours before bedtime. Don’t drink tea or coffee before sleep. These stimulants will keep you up through night. And don't eat late at night, especially a heavy meal.

Reading a book, or listening to music, or taking a bath is ideal. Go to sleep at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Make the room comfortable. It should be dark, quiet, and not too warm or too cold (cooler is better than warmer). Use sleeping mask, if you can't switch off or block light.

Ward off bothersome sounds with earplugs. Strictly avoid phones, tablets and other screens that give off light at bed time. Otherwise, you wouldn’t fall asleep.If you still can’t sleep, try journaling.

Write worrying thoughts down. This might help you shut down nagging thoughts. Or get up and out of bed, read something until you feel sleepy.