It was in my history class. Mrs Olivia, our highly enthusiastic teacher, who was teaching about the Chalukyas of Karnataka advanced to the first row of the class and repeated the same name -Rashtrakutas again and again in a louder voice. This unusual act caught everyone’s attention in the class. Jyothi, my friend who sat next to me started nudging me. I opened my eyes to see my teacher standing right in front of me, shouting the name just to wake me up. And I was the laughing spectacle of the class. (Silly me...)
“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”-Benjamin Franklin
The reason why I told my classroom incident was not to tell that I hate history (I mean, who likes history?) or why I’m always bored in history class. But to illustrate the point that I did not have enough sleep the previous night.
Look around you: a guy nodding off while waiting at a traffic light, a student snoozing during a dull class(me!), the kids with heavy eyelids lined up for morning assembly.
Sleep is crucial for a person’s health and wellbeing. Yet millions of people around the globe, do not get enough sleep (sometimes by choice) and many suffer from lack of sleep.
But have you ever wondered what causes you to hit the sack?
Sleep occurs based on the biological clock. We have dedicated sensors on the retina that deliver the daytime/nighttime message directly to a gland tucked deep inside the brain. In response to darkness, this tiny brain tissue produces the sleep-inducing hormone ‘melatonin’, transmitting the message to brain areas.
Once we close our eyes, we are exposed to two types of sleep.
The first one is NREM sleep (Non-Rapid Eye Movement).
This is the dreamless sleep, which has three different stages.
Stage 1 is Drowsiness
Stage 2 is Light Sleep.
At Stage 3, we reach Deep Sleep. It becomes nearly impossible to awaken us at this stage. If somebody tries to do that and succeeds, they are not going to have a good time cause we do not adjust immediately and often feel groggy or act grumpy for several minutes and we can get angry very soon. Deep sleep allows the brain to go on a little vacation needed to restore the energy we expend during our working hours.
My mother once told me that I refused to wake up when there were earthquake tremors in Kuwait.
The other type of sleep is the REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement)
It is when our brain is active as it was when we were awake. Our brains try to make out random information thrown before it. In other words, we are in dreamland. My parents used to tell me that while sleeping I used to mutter stuff like “8 x 6=55 “(erm... is it right?). I always thought that I was bonkers, but only recently did I realize that it was all due to the mechanism of REM sleep.
Nightmares are dreams with scary and terrifying content, that sends you screaming in the middle of the night. They are common in children during REM sleep. REM is the period when we get to fly without wings, ace without learning, and our most fancied wishes and desires come true. (my most fav: a lifetime supply of chocolate. Yum!)
Each sleep stage is important for the overall quality of sleep, but deep sleep and REM sleep are especially vital. During deep sleep, blood flow decreases to the brain and redirects towards the muscles, restoring physical energy. It is this time when our immune system gets some time to be healed. Just like how we need to charge our mobile phones.
Sleep deprivation causes a lot of disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome and narcolepsy (you seriously do not want to fall asleep when you laugh too much)
Have you ever observed that whenever you are done with a big project or series of exams, you get chills or experience body pain and fatigue? Well, at least now you should know this is mostly due to lack of deep sleep.
And MOST importantly, the Human Growth Hormone which helps us grow tall is released during deep sleep. This is the reason why children are told to sleep for more hours.
The biggest sleep robber of all is homework and assignments, which results in more stress and can steal away more sleep hours so it’s time to catch some Zzz. But we have to manage our time wisely and spare more hours in our busy schedule, for sleep.
Here are some positive tips and tricks I started following since the day I fell asleep in class and I recommend you to follow it as well
- Try to go to bed early and wake up early, like about 9:00PM and wake up between 5:00 AM to 6.00AM. (be the early bird!)
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (even on weekends!)
- Engage in regular exercise.
- Don’t involve in screen time before sleep time.
- Eat a balanced diet to improve your sleep quality.
- Aim for 8 to 10 hours sleep a night.
- Meditate… repeat a mantra to focus your mind.
- Take teeny naps only if you need to…desperately.
- Create a dark, cool and quiet bedroom.
- Try to have your supper at least 2 hrs before going to bed
Why don’t you give it a try!
It is your choice, the next episode of your favourite show at 11:45 PM or sleep.
“Sleep is the best meditation” -Dalai Lama
So, sleep right and be energetic for yet another challenging day.
PS: Does anyone else count sheep to sleep?