I turned lab rat to look at the importance of sleep and that is how I learnt to pay attention to a previously ignored aspect of my health.
Lack of sleep is behind problems like depression, hypertension, heart issues, loss of appetite, weight gain, ageing, loss of memory, skin problems – to name only a few.
Anybody over the age of 18 needs an average 8 hours of sleep every night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
So, if you live to be 68 years old, the average life span of an Indian (Sample Registration System (SRS) under the Census office), you should have spent 1,46,000 hours sleeping out of a total of 4,38,000 hours. This also means you should ideally spend 33 percent or about 1/3rd of your life sleeping.
Dr MS Kanwar, a sleep specialist, affirms that Indians are not sleeping well, owing mostly to the demands of an urban lifestyle.
If you are not sleeping well at night, they will see the effects during the day.Dr MS Kanwar, Pulmonary and Sleep Disorders
According to a survey by FitBit in 2017, we clock 6 hours 55 minutes every night on average, making us some of the poorest sleepers in the world.
What I Learnt From Tracking My Sleep: 5 Takeaways
I tracked my sleep for eight nights and seven days. During this period, I tracked not just my sleep, but my entire lifestyle. What was my diet like? How much junk food was I eating? Was I working late? How late and how often?
Here are five takeaways:
- I sleep better on days I exercise – so, tire yourself out before you hit the bed
- If I stop my caffeine intake even two hours before bedtime, things are better.
- Having an early dinner helps me fall asleep. But if I feel hungry by the time I go to bed, I can’t sleep. This is because you need carbs for the sleep inducing hormone – melatonin. So, don’t skip dinner.
- Nothing helps better than a calm mind. Stay away from screens and technology. Your bed is not a place to scroll down eternally on Instagram.
- Eating a clean diet, free from saturated fats and preservatives, just generally helps me stay calm and sleep better.
With work, social media and the usual things in the life of a millennial, getting the recommended eight hours of sleep every night is still a struggle. Being aware of the importance of sleep is at least a start, don’t you think? And perhaps, that is how I learnt to choose my bed over going out.