Sunday March 18, 2018

Sleep benefits: People who love sleeping have another reason to doze off!


New Delhi: Sleep is said to take one-third of our life. And there must be a good reason why nature makes us sleep for this long. A large number of studies all over the world has shown the beneficial effects of good sleep.

Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, results in impairment of judgement, depression, heart problems, obesity and a drastic reduction in the general well-being of an individual. In an extreme case, sleep deprivation has also resulted in death through heart failure. In fact, the first sign of sickness is fretful sleep.

How lack of sleep produces ill health has remained a mystery. Now, slowly, scientific investigations are solving this puzzle.

One of the accepted theories so far has been that sleep helps in both consolidation and removal of memories. We perceive the world during the day through our senses and it results in memory formation both shallow and deep. Sleep, it seems, helps in consolidating and removing some of these memories uncluttering the brain.

Another recent, but fascinating, theory (backed with experiments) has shown that sleep helps in flushing out toxic protein waste and biological debris from the brain, formed during waking hours. It seems that during sleep the relaxation of the brain helps in opening up the channels through which the debris flows into the blood streams and is removed from it.

Studies have also shown that sleep helps flush out harmful protein plaque (beta amyloid) which is responsible for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Thus good sleep is extremely essential for a healthy brain and body.

The build-up of toxins in the brain due to inadequate sleep also affects the body. Though there is very little understanding of how this happens, a probable cause is the passage of this information by the vagus nerve to different parts of the body.

Scientific investigations have also shown that information of any slight change in the brain chemistry is transmitted to various organs by the vagus nerve, which plays an important part in keeping the brain and body in unison.

As the brain starts getting affected by the debris build-up, the message via the vagus nerve to various organs might be to slow them down, resulting in their lethargic action.

Just like deep sleep, meditation also enables dissolution of memories. In fact, deep sleep and meditation have similar characteristics and it is quite possible that during meditation the flushing of toxins from the brain may also take place.

A possible mechanism could be that since meditation results in the relaxation of the brain, it may help in opening up the channels for flushing off the chemical debris.

Memory is formed both by producing new neural pathways and certain chemical changes in the brain. Memory removal, therefore, is affected by changes in both these mechanisms.

In deep meditation (where the focus is on a single thought for a long time, also called Sanyam) new neural pathways are formed and the old ones get dissolved. This dissolution may have a chemical signature thereby producing toxic debris which needs to be flushed out.

How can we induce good sleep? Generally, when the body is healthy and the person follows a good exercise regime, then this helps to produce deep sleep. Production of deep sleep can also be helped by meditation. Studies world over have shown that long-term practice of meditation helps in toning both the mind and body.

A good meditation practice to follow for quickly falling asleep is to close the eyes and focus attention on the center of the forehead. This can be done just before going to sleep and also when one wakes up at night and has difficulty in falling asleep again. (Anil K Rajvanshi, IANS)

Next Story

Salary hike correlated to ease of falling asleep: Survey

The survey, conducted across Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, indicates that there is also a direct correlation between productivity and sleep.

To track poor sleep, the surveys asked questions about the frequency of insomnia, restless sleep and sleep disturbances.
Falling asleep is directly related to salary of a person. Wikimedia Commons
  • Your salary and sleep may be connected
  • High salary means more ease while falling asleep
  • the survey also shows at what time people go to bed usually in different cities

Having trouble sleeping? Your salary might be one of the reasons behind it. There is a direct correlation between increasing salary and ease of falling asleep, according to a survey.

Listening to white sounds can helps us to get oriented towards calm thoughts
High salary means more ease at falling asleep.

The India Sleep and Wellness survey, released ahead of the World Sleep Day, was commissioned by Sunday Mattresses and was conducted among 345 working professionals above the age of 25, read a statement.

The survey, conducted across Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, indicates that there is also a direct correlation between productivity and sleep.

Also Read: Sleep spindles may help in improving memory retention

Over two-thirds of the sound sleepers believe they are 100 per cent productive at work. whereas more than half of those who reported getting insufficient sleep, believed they were only 75 per cent (or less) productive.

People below the age group of 30 sleep better compared to those who are older. Adults over 30 are twice as likely to have sleep-related problems and adults over 45 years are three times more likely to have sleep-related issues. Almost 40 per cent of people use an alarm to wake up. This is significantly high in Mumbai where 50 per cent of the respondents use an alarm on a daily basis.

Sleeping is very important for one’s mental and physical health.

People in Bengaluru go to bed the earliest (between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.), whereas Mumbai has the highest proportion of night owls who sleep after midnight. Bengaluru also has a better record of falling asleep as compared to Delhi and Mumbai and this is mainly attributed to relatively lower noise levels.

The research demonstrates that people who eat less than two hours before going to sleep are 50 percent more likely to have sleep-related issues. IANS