Sleep is of paramount importance for us. It allows our body and organs to rest, recharge and refresh for the coming day. It helps you stay fit, healthy and active. After a long day at work, sleep is all we need to calm our minds and relax our bodies.
That being said, the daily stress of our modern lives, combined with irregular and unhealthy diets and a sedentary lifestyle, often lead to situations where individuals aren't able to get adequate sleep every day. A good night’s sleep is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, and it’s a bad omen, to say the least.
People take their poor sleeping patterns very casually. This is one of the reasons why research suggests that “35% of Americans report their sleep quality as ‘poor’ or ‘only fair’, whereas 28% Americans reported that they did not wake up feeling refreshed on any of the past seven days. This implies very little sleeping time and results in a significantly bad impact for our bodies. It even impacts your day to day performance at work and affects the quality of your social life.
What Problems Does One Face Due to Poor Sleeping Habits?
Studies have suggested that the minimum sleep required in a day varies from person to person. It depends on various factors, including age, gender, geological location, diet, physical activity and habits. It is established that every healthy adult should sleep for a minimum of 7-9 hours, whereas children and teens should try and get 8-10 hours of sleep. This should be at one stretch only.
If you do not get enough sleep for long periods of time, it can often lead to various problems – from chronic diseases, to productivity underperformance to a poor social life. Here’s a glance at the issues and challenges you might face if you have consistently poor sleeping patterns.
Studies have found that less sleep can lead to an increase in weight. Recent research has even claimed that children who don’t get adequate sleep have an 89% chance of being overweight, while the risk for adults is up to 55%.
Poor sleep severely increases the risk of chronic diseases such as heart diseases, stroke, inflammation, type 2 diabetes and even hypertension. A recent study found out that people who sleep for only 5-6 hours a day can develop symptoms of being a pre-diabetic, while another research confirmed the connection between low sleep and heart diseases or stroke.
Stress and Depression
A recent analysis has revealed that stress and sleep are directly interlinked. The analysis provides an estimated figure that 90% of people who suffer from bouts of stress or depression find it difficult to sleep. Sleep deprivation worsens the situation and can even lead to mental illness.
Lack of sleep doesn’t only lead to illnesses, but it can take away your confidence as well. When you don’t sleep enough, your brain is not able to function at full capacity, and you tend to make more mistakes. You generally feel low and clouded, finding it extremely challenging to go through the day.
Lack of sleep has a counter-effective relationship with your gut. If you have trouble sleeping adequately, then you are more likely to develop Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), or Functional Dyspepsia.
Similarly, if you already suffer from any of these, you will also face troubles while sleeping. Additionally, lack of proper sleep increases other issues such as disturbing gut microbiome balance, causing heartburn, acidity and constipation amongst other issues.
Poor Social Life
Sleep deprivation leads to low energy and unwillingness to interact with others. It fills you with negativity and ruins your social life. Your family also feels the brunt of it as you can go through sudden mood changes, bouts of anger, stress and emotions.
Can Workouts Help in Improving Sleep?
Yes, for sure exercises and workouts help in improving your sleep. They do so by addressing various issues that affect your sleep. Firstly, they reduce the stress levels and calm the mind before bed. They also help in relieving all the work-related pressure and promotes deep sleep.
Exercising helps working physiological wonders inside the body. Studies have established a connection between good workouts and better sleep. The connections are based on the release of a chemical compound known as endorphin, which creates a healthy circadian rhythm, which is as an internal body clock that helps in body function, adaptation and sleeping.
Exercising before bed can be more helpful if you are looking to get a perfect sleep. You need a gentle exercise plan that will cool you down and relax your mind. It also loosens your muscles and makes it easier to fall asleep quickly. These are better than strength training or cardio since that increases heart rate and blood flow, which is never ideal for those bedtime moments.
Here are some of the best unwinding workouts that won’t only keep you fit, but promote a good night’s sleep:
To do this exercise, you need to stand 2-3 feet away from your bed while facing it. Now proceed by keeping your right foot on the bed, flexing it a bit and moving forward until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Now rotate the foot 180 degrees for 10 times without moving your body. Now switch feet and repeat the procedure. This will encourage a sounder slumber.
This is a very simple exercise that helps the body to relax and the muscles to loosen. To do this, you need to lie down on your back on the bed and bring your knees towards your chest area. Now fully extend your right leg and place it on the bed.
Now place your right hand on top of the left, and take the left across the body to the right. Rotate your head left. You will feel a stretch on your neck. Don’t stretch it much. Keep the pressure mild and release after a gentle stretch. Now switch sides and start the process again. Do it 3-4 times before going to bed.
To do this soothing exercise, you need to lie down face-up on your bed and put a pillow beneath your hips. Now bring both your knees towards your chest, and wrap both legs with your arms around them.
Hold for 15-20 seconds while breathing deep and slow. Put your feet down, relax for a bit, and repeat the procedure at least 5 times. This exercise is fairly simple and straightforward, yet very soothing to the mind and muscles.
This is an advanced breathing exercise in which you control the speed of your breath to lower your heart rate and blood pressure to have a better sleep routine. To do this exercise, you need to put pressure with your tongue’s tip to the roof of the mouth behind your front teeth.
Now inhale from your nose for 4 seconds, and then hold your breath for the next 7 seconds. After this, you need to exhale, but from your mouth instead of your nose, till the count of 8. You might find it difficult initially, but with some practice, you will be able to do it quite easily. You can increase the time once comfortable.
The Child’s Pose
This exercise is aimed at releasing tension in the back and shoulders and provides a comforting effect. To do this exercise, you should kneel in a way that your hips touch your feet. Now bend down your upper body, stretching your arms in front. Your face should be a little bit above the floor and your chest should be settled between the thighs.
Now put a ball or a roller beneath your forehead, and try to walk it until the stretch of your arms lets you. Gently roll from back to front, and then back again. It will give you a mini massage and relieve all the stress and tension.
Sleeping is as important as having a healthy diet or working out. If you want a healthy lifestyle and do not want diseases or health issues to knock at your door frequently, then you have to ensure that you get enough sleep every day.
Work demands and the daily pressures of life can make it tough to get enough sleep every day. However, adopting some measures in your daily routine, eating well and working out daily can help improve your sleep. You can refer to the sleep-specific unwinding exercises shared above or these tricks for better sleep and start healthy sleeping habits from today.