A good night’s sleep is all you need to shake off the day’s stress and rejuvenate to face the next. With a steep increase in the use of games and gadgets, rigorous work schedules and rising lifestyle demands…are you getting enough?
Sleep is associated with a state of muscle relaxation and a limited perception of external stimuli. It is essential for the growth and rejuvenation of the immune, muscular and nervous system in humans. Sleep is also linked to a working memory which is responsible for keeping information active for further processing and also supports cognitive functions like decision making and reasoning. It is generally advised that a minimum of 6 – 7 hours of sleep is optimal for most individuals.
However, in today’s day and age, people’s lives have become extremely hectic resulting in erratic sleeping patterns. This has resulted in a shift in the natural sleeping cycle of individuals, largely impacting their health and well-being. Those working night shifts are most affected. Prolonged sleep deprivation not only impairs memory functions, but also lowers immunity, increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease and causes behavioural changes.
While there are numerous reasons for sleep deprivation, one of the most common these days is linked to prolonged use of smartphones and computers. Technology can be addictive. With the world virtually available on your laptop and smartphone, there is an increased dependence on these gadgets. Youngsters are always seen glued to their gadgets, while many executives seem to find it tough to switch off from their work, even at night. In addition to weakening of their eyesight, this modern lifestyle change has disrupted the body’s natural sleeping pattern, resulting in sleeping disorders.
Researchers have discovered that using an electronic gadget for 2 hours before going to bed can cause sleep disorders. A new study conducted by the Light and Health Program of the Lighting Research Centre at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute showed that a 2 hour exposure to light from self-luminous electronic displays can suppress melatonin production in the body by about 22%. Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland at night and under conditions of darkness. Release of melatonin sends a signal to the brain that it is night time and hence time for sleep. Exposure to short wavelength light from gadgets at night can slow down or even stop melatonin production, which aggravates sleep disturbances. If this occurs in individuals over a period of years, particularly those who work night shifts, it could also lead to cancer. Since one’s lifestyle can be altered, this is one cause of sleep disturbance that can be controlled. Limiting the use of electronic displays to what is actually required can have a significant effect on one’s health.
Prior to the concept of clocks and watches, natural movement of the sun was more than sufficient to demarcate day from night, and without overdependence on gadgets, our ancestors exuded good health. Thus, it is imperative that while technology takes control of our lives, we must not lose sight of the basics by allowing external influences to create havoc with our health.
Here are some easy tips to induce natural sleep:
- Maintain your daily routine of hygiene and cleanliness. Wash your hands, feet and face before you retire to bed.
- Massage your feet with lavender oil before sleeping. Lavender oil is known to be the best essence to relieve anxiety and stress due to the presence of molecules called esters, which make it antispasmodic and pacifying in nature.
- Avoid late, heavy meals and intense activity at night. This will result in disturbed sleep.
- Nature is always in balance. Align your daily routine with that of the movement of the sun so that the body can tune in with this balance.
- Practice Yog Nidra. This kriya will slowly relax your mind and body of any fatigue and heaviness and induce sleep. For the correct procedure of Yog Nidra refer to Sanatan Kriya -The Ageless Dimension.