What is normal sleep and how much do you need? Nehru could make do with five hours of sleep at night and Kumbhakarna needed six months at a stretch! When a car has been running for some time, it has to be overhauled at a garage, to clean and mend faults, so it can run smoothly.
Similarly sleep recharges our batteries; repair work is carried out, and poisons and toxins cleared from the system, so that next day, we work efficiently. Dreams are cleansing mechanisms, as problems not solved during the day surface at night, and the body attempts to deal with them so they stop bothering us the next day. On an average, seven to eight hours of sleep is enough for healthy adults, and anything less than four hours, or more than nine hours reduces our life span.
Sleep alternates between REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep. Our nights begin with NREM sleep for 45-60 minutes, and goes on to REM sleep in 80 minutes. This goes on throughout the night in alternate cycles of 90 to 110 minutes. In REM sleep, BP and heart rate become irregular and breathing muscles become lax, so chances of heart attacks and disturbed breathing are more. Thyroid and adrenal gland secretions, which control our metabolic rate and reaction to emergencies reduce and we are prone to illeffects of temperature fluctuations.
Robbers appear to have studied sleep patterns because they strike when we are in REM sleep! Reasons for sleeplessness Bright lights, even a luminous clock, external sounds, a snoring bed partner, extremes of temperature, an uncomfortable bed, unpleasant smells, and pain could cause sleeplessness. There could be neck, head pains, cardiac and hyperacidity problems, general body ache and leg cramps.
Tips for managing insomnia
- Cut down on daytime sleep
- Increase physical activity
- Take a light but adequate dinner
Have a glass of milk at night Milk contains tryptophan, a natural sedative. You can also have jayphal in milk or a Bhringraj oil head massage that induces sound sleep. Reading is a good sleep inducer. You can also try soft music, shavasna, and meditation.