World Sleep Day: Expert Reveals the Benefits of Mindful Sleep and How to Achieve It

Every year, World Sleep Day is celebrated on March 17. While sleep is essential for a person’s health, millions of people in India alone do not get enough sleep. The reasons can vary from stress to social life. The ZzzQuil India National Sleep Survey conducted by Kantar in association with P&G reveals that only 15% of Indians on average sleep well at night, with nearly 60% of Indians experiencing occasional insomnia.

We sit down with Dr. Yong Chiat Wong, Group Chief Scientist, Medical and Technical Affairs at P&G Health, to talk about the effects of sleep deprivation, its correlation to immunity, and emerging trends.

How important is sleep?

Sleep has three main functions. The first is consolidation. During sleep, the brain works hard to learn, develop, and transfer short-term memory to long-term memory. Second, it’s as important for growth and repair as the release of growth hormones, which is why, you know, a baby sleeps a lot. The third important factor for sleep is that it helps us recharge and relax.

How does lack of sleep affect humans, physically and mentally?

If you are sleep deprived or have short sleep duration, you can easily become irritable and have a short attention span for decision making. There is a study that says people who sleep less than seven hours compared to those who sleep more than eight hours have a three times higher risk of catching a cold. In the long term, lack of sleep is also associated with an increased risk of cancer, obesity, cardiovascular mortality as well as diabetes.

Which is more important, quantity sleep or quality sleep?

I would say that both aspects are important. There are three important elements for healthy sleep. The first is duration. The second is continuity. And the third is depth.

Also read: Listen to your body: Here’s why free radicals and oxidative stress are not good for your health

How are sleep and immunity related?

Sleep helps our body balance and restore our immunity. The sleep cycle communicates closely with the immune system. At night, your immune system releases cytokines while you sleep, which are very vital in fighting infections and have protective functions. So if you sleep less there is less cytokine production and you are more prone to getting infections.

What is the minimum requirement for hours of sleep based on age?

Sleep is one of the important factors for the release of growth hormones. Thus, newborns and infants usually sleep up to 17 hours a day. Children ages one to five stick to 14 hours of sleep, while children ages six to teens need about 10 hours of sleep. Young adults typically need seven to nine hours and older adults seven to eight hours of sleep. So I would say that a minimum of seven hours of sleep is required.

What advice would you give to the current generation to maintain their sleep balance?

Over millions of years of evolution, the human body was designed to rest and restore after the sun went down. However, by modern societal standards, the lifestyle we have and the technologies we use today work against this natural process. At night, people turn on lights, TVs, appliances and on-demand entertainment and are always on social media. So all of this works against our natural sleep cycle.

What is important to us is the need to have a regular sleep schedule. We should have a healthy lifestyle with physical activities and avoid using devices at night. We should sleep in dark, quiet rooms to get quality sleep.

What is the concept of delayed sleep or revenge sleep?

Many people procrastinate and sleep late. It is in response to stress or lack of personal free time during the day. So they try to relax, binge watch or use social media at night. However, these activities can further affect our sleep cycle. Studies show that with just two hours of screen time, our body can suppress up to 40% of melatonin secretion.

Melatonin is a very important body substance that helps us sleep. So if melatonin production is suppressed at night, it will be even more difficult to fall asleep.

Also read: Women Talking Taboo: Nutritionist Ruchi Sharma opens up on silence surrounding lifestyle diseases in women

What are the sleep trends after the pandemic?

There was a 2021 study by Felix. It says two out of three participants said they had the ability to sleep well during the pandemic and more than a third said they had difficulty falling asleep. In 2020, 74% said they used a mobile phone in bed, then a year later in 2021 it rose to 84%.

The most common reason for stress is lack of sleep. So after the pandemic and the work-from-home arrangements, people also had to work overtime, which contributed to additional stress.

Are there technologies or gadgets that we can use to ensure sleep?

If I have to recommend it, I might invest in something like ambient sleep light or soothing music.

Related Article

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button