Neurology

Why you must sleep to stay active

Lack of sleep is called insomnia. Pathological insomnia can lead to chronic sleep deprivation, increasing the risk of hypertension, diabetes, stroke, epilepsy and behavioural disorders. Patients tend to be inattentive during the day time affecting their productivity. Micro sleeps during day time can make them prone to accidents and professional hazards. This will also provoke changes in appetite, body metabolism and personality. Gradually, all these combined factors can lead to depression.


Sleep disturbance can be due to obstructive airway disease, which manifests itself in snoring and may result in obesity with multiple system problems. We have to identify and treat the cause to cure sleep disturbance. At times we may have to drill deep and look for secondary causes that may be causing the problem.

There are several drugs which help in inducing natural sleep that you may use based on the cause and severity of your insomnia. However, for them to be really effective in the long run, you would need to help the drugs with a supportive lifestyle. To begin with set a regular bedtime and try and wake up at around the same hour every morning. Alongside, get into a lifestyle regimen built around regular balanced meals, exercise and a good brisk walk after dinner. If stress is an unavoidable part of your life, you may take to meditation or any other proven relaxation technique. Even a refreshing bath and a glass of warm milk before you retire are known to help. On the whole there is no substitute to adopting a disciplined lifestyle and keeping stress at bay for a restful night’s sleep.

Among the things you must most definitely avoid are excessive eating, alcohol, smoking or any stimulant drug as these tend to disrupt normal physiological cycles. Worry and anxiety are surefire sleep killers.

The need for sleep changes with age. For example, infants need to sleep at least 10 hours a day. As they grow older eight hours is plenty. For an adult a minimum of six hours of sleep is essential. In later years sleep requirements decline.

Physiologically, darkness is known to stimulate melatonin, a hormone which regulates sleep and wake patterns in the brain resulting in good sleep. However, in modern lifestyles where late hours of work and shift duties are often unavoidable, this biological need faces unprecedented challenges, which in turn leads to serious health consequences. It is mandatory to sleep for at least 6-8 hours regardless of work schedules. Not doing so can lead to errors in performance and become a major health concern.

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