Am one of those people who for long had considered sleep only as a means to rest until a cousin involved in research sent me an email explaining what she has found out about people who sleep less. She informed me that most underestimated activity, sleep is actually vital in achieving good health. Currently, she is tackling sleeps issues through a multi disciplinary, proactive and scientific approach.In her work, she has found out that adults sleep either poorly or not long enough most nights, leaving them fatigued, irritable and in danger and the main reason is the addiction with internet which is to blame.Her insistence of me understanding the importance of sleep is to help individuals like me and other ageing folks sleep their way to good health.“Cousin you take sleep for granted and don’t fully realise how sleep impact your well-being,” said my cousin.“Beyond getting your body to rest and regain physical strength, quality sleep supports mental and physical health, and affects quality of life. How you feel and perform throughout the day is affected by how well you slept. It is during sleep when your body is working to support vital functions of the brain and organs. Sleep also helps cells regenerate,” added the 29 years old Sydneysider. During our chinwag, she explained to me how sleep deprivation affects people physically and mentally. I learnt that physically, deprivation can cause mood swings, constant tiredness, less productivity, slower reaction time, and increase chances of making mistakes and accidents. It was also surprising to learn that mentally, it affects cognitive function, making individuals unable to properly focus and retain information. The risk for chronic disease also increases with chronic sleep deprivation.
Those of us being constantly sleep deprived, having a restful sleep eventually becomes a challenge and may lead to unhealthy habits and dependency on medication. However sleep issues can be addressed.Through the convo, it was clear how vital is to recognise the basic underlying factors affecting and causing sleep problems, in order to determine the appropriate steps needed to sleep better. As human beings, we cannot just keep treating the symptoms. Sleeping pills, she explained, may help for a brief period of time and under a doctor’s supervision. However, insomnia cannot be cured by sleeping pills alone. They can actually make insomnia worse in the long run. Sleep is such a dynamic and relational problem.Now I know that sleep is not a waste of time and it is a health priority it needs to be just like i focus with keeping fit.The truth is that most of us cut corners with our sleep function below our best. We are not as mentally sharp, as vigilant, as attentive or as patient as we would otherwise be if we slept enough.But there are many aspects to sleeping well.One of them is the diet we take. Her advise was that we should avoid stimulants like coffee and tea, as well as sleeping on a full stomach, which causes gastro oesophageal reflux and negatively affects sleep quality.Despite the pervasiveness of hand-held technology, we should also stop using the connected computing devices or watching television before going to bed.She recommended me to have regular daily exercise and exposure to the outdoors in the daytime.Also, she advised me that I should go to bed at the same time every day in order to allow the body and mind to develop a pattern of rest and wakefulness.In conclusion, have in mind that sleep is an investment in your brain, and it will help you to be more productive and positive during the day if you make extra effort to sleep enough at night.