Too much of one thing is never good. Just as it is important to exercise to be active, it is equally essential to get a good night’s sleep to allow the mind and the body to relax. After a normal day which is hectic for most of us nowadays, the body needs to rest and recuperate to prepare for the next day.
I always tell my clients that sleep is a reflection of how your day has gone by, both in terms of the quantity and the quality. If you wake up feeling tired, irritable, or angry,chances are that you have not given your body its deserved time off. Under normal circumstances, 6 to 8 hours should do the trick. But this is not enough in all cases. Infants, toddlers, school kids, etc., need many more hours of sleep to allow the healthy development of the brain and the body. Similarly, when you are unwell you need to sleep more to help your body fight back. Sleep helps to strengthen the immune system, which is under attack whenever you have some infection or disorder. In fact, if you are getting your required sleep, you are less likely than others to fall prey to germs or diseases. Interestingly, most animals simply sleep off their illness. Such is the power of a good restful sleep.
As you grow older, your sleep becomes lighter. Most people in their fifties and sixties cannot get restful sleep, or sleep at a stretch no matter how much they try. I remember my mother craving for the ‘teenager’s sleep’ as she called it, when you can just doze off before you can count up to ten. So if you are trying to sneak into the house quietly after a late night, you are more likely to be caught by your grandparents than your parents!
Sleeping too much is not recommended as it makes you dull, lazy, and sluggish. If you oversleep, your body movements slow down, and the brain is not as alert as it should be. On the other hand, if you don’t get your required hours of sleep, you feel tired, drowsy, cranky, and inattentive, and cannot concentrate. This is the reason why I strongly recommend my clients to sleep well before they have to take an exam, go for an interview, take a screen test, or even when they have to drive. So many accidents on the roads are due to the fact that the drivers were not able to react well in time. They had not slept well and were simply feeling drowsy at the wheel, putting precious lives at risk.
Rameet Gidwani, a 28-year-old, is an Assistant General Manager in a leading Mumbai hotel. Given her job profile, she has to stand almost 10 hours a day, mostly from 9 am to 7 pm. Her job is very strenuous, being both mental and physical in nature. So by the time Meet gets home, she feels very tired, and has difficulty getting good sleep on most nights. She can barely get 2 to 3 hours at a stretch, and keeps on waking up throughout the night. She feels tired, irritable, and frustrated.
Almost six months back, Meet came to me and started doing yoga. I made her do Bhramari Pranayam, Shavasana, Parvatasana, and Suryanamaskars. These exercises improved the blood circulation in her body, and helped her to relax. Suryanamaskars enhance the cardio vascular endurance as well as the flexibility of the muscles. She has since experienced a change in her sleep pattern, and can now sleep 6 to 7 hours at a stretch. As a result, Meet feels energetic and happy in the mornings. This has made a lot of difference in her life, and has helped her perform better at work.
So this is what sleep does: it keeps you healthy, beautiful and sharp. It is as important as eating and exercising. And the way you sleep, and how much, is just as relevant to bring about the best results.
I sleep 7 hours at a stretch and still feel tired!
Well, it also matters where you sleep. It is important to make sure that the place where you spend 6 to 8 hours in a day is ideal for you. A lot of people like to sleep in water beds or soft mattresses, which are really bad for the body especially the back. The truth is, the harder the surface, the better it is. If you want to get your ultimate sleep, make sure that your mattress is firm and not too soft. Also, remember to discard your old mattresses after 4 to 5 years.
A lot of people have trouble going off to sleep at night even though they are perfectly normal and do not suffer from any sleeping disorders. In most such cases, I have seen that these people lead a sedentary life with very little physical activity. Siddhartha Mehta, 19, is a fresher in college and is completely addicted to the internet.
Tips to get your ultimate sleep
• Listen to some soothing music
• Take a lukewarm bath before going to bed
• Keep your bedroom, or where you sleep clean
• Remove the clutter around your bed
• Use aroma candles with lavender or any other fragrant oil that you like
• Wash your feet before sleeping
This is an except from ‘From XL to XS’ by Payal Gidwani Tiwari: http://bit.ly/SkrGQb