Six-eight hours of sleep are essential for body’s health and longevity as during sleep, the body and mind relax and repair themselves. Sleep deprivation leads to illnesses. The sleep hormone, melatonin, is also an excellent antioxidant, improving longevity. Melatonin production detoriates with age, sleeping in a dark room and a good sleep improves its production. Hence, avoid sleepdisturbing factors such as light, coffee, alcohol, tea, large meals before sleep.
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder. It is a symptom and not a disease. More than 50 per cent of the adult population suffers from some type of intermittent sleep disturbances. Fifteen to 20 per cent of adults suffer from chronic sleep disturbances. The lack of good quality rest is one of the most common causes of susceptibility to illness, and a good night’s rest is an effective healing technique that will abort many incipient illnesses. Therefore, improving the quality of rest and sleep should be another priority in a programme aimed at enhancing your healing capacity.
Lack of sleep makes you irritable, lethargic and tired. You cannot concentrate on difficult and complex situations. Studies show that shift workers have higher rates of breast cancer than women who are able to sleep normal hours. Two possible culprits are the hormones melatonin and cortisone. Melatonin is an antioxidant that mops up damaging free radicals, but the body produces less of it when sleep cycles are disrupted. Cortisone, which helps regulate the immune system, may also be compromised by troubled sleep. A Yale University report says that people who sleep less than six hours a day regularly double their risk of diabetes mellitus and those who sleep for more than eight hours triple the risk.
Geeta Kumari, a 48-year-old media personality, wakes up in the morning feeling tired, as if she has not slept at all. She tends to nap during meetings and conversations. She feels tired and suffers from headaches throughout the day. Sometimes, she wakes up at midnight and cannot go back to sleep again. She was overweight (70 kg). She started practising this technique to reduce her weight and is now sleeping better though her weight is still 56 kg.