‘SILENT SLEEP-DEFICIT – A GLOBAL EPIDEMIC’
Sleep Medicine is a terminology heard very often these days. With studies from Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic and all, it’s hard to ignore this branch of medicine that just was a fledgling one in the mid 20th century.
With words like circadian rhythm, circadian clock, chronotype, sleep-cycle, sleep-deficit etc being bandied about in public health circles, it’s time we atleast got a gist of the whole thing.
Let’s start with the first – ‘circadian rhythm’ and ‘circadian clock’.
This is a natural, internal rhythm of our body that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. It resets itself (mostly at night as it’s affected by solar time) roughly about every 24 hours – mainly affected by our hunger patterns, when our hearts beat fast & most importantly, with our sleep patterns. And so, a unique clock that each of our bodies posses to monitor this rhythm – that’s our ‘circadian clock’!
Now, for the word ‘chronotype’.
This can be described as again, a unique inclination of one’s body with respect to the different times of a day, as to when a person prefers to sleep or is most energetic. Studies have shown that 5 AM & 9 PM are the most frequent of these timings, depending on one’s time-zone.
Next, let’s see what consists of a ‘sleep-cycle’.
A ‘sleep-cycle’ is exactly what it sounds – a cycle of our sleep, as we progress from light sleep – deep sleep – light sleep; so that’s a whole cycle. It mostly lasts for 90 – 120 mins, which means, ideally we need to go through atleast 5 sleep-cycles every night to feel fully rested.
Last but not the least, and the elephant in the room – ‘sleep-deficit’.
In the daily grind of life, it wouldn’t be hard to understand this term, as most of us are, albeit silently, a part of this global epidemic. With erratic time-schedules ruling our days (and nights), sleep has today, become a negotiable necessity. ‘Sleep-deficit’ can be defined as the lack of sleeping hours for the body to rest and rejuvenate, that is anything less than 8 hours in a 24 hours cycle.
People are being fooled by the various wisdom gurus spouting on different platforms, that even 4 hours of full sleep is beneficial for the body and mind. Unfortunately for us, studies have proven that ‘Less sleep, lesser the quality of life’ is actually what happens, than the famous,’Less sleep, more work & play’ idiom that’s become our catch-phrase today.
To understand the impact of this sleep deficit, we need to realise that SLEEP is a NON-NEGOTIABLE biological necessity. Period!!!
And so the questions that begs information are:-
# WHAT IS SLEEP?
# WHY IS SLEEP SO IMPORTANT?
And most importantly:-
# HOW DO I GET BETTER SLEEP???
So, let’s spell it out, without any frills, for all and sundry… 🙂