How To Get The Sleep You NeedReader’s Digest India|October 2019

Top secrets to superior slumberSamantha Rideout

Few things are as coveted as good sleep: Studies show that it adds years to your life and, over time, increases happiness as much as winning the lottery. Drawing upon recent scientific research, these tips will help guarantee you wakeful days and blissful nights.

How to Prescribe Yourself Sleep

Convenient or not, it’s a biological fact: Adults need to sleep between seven and nine hours each night. India Today aggregated anonymous data collected by Fitbit from the year 2016 and found that most Indians sleep almost seven hours or less. This makes Indians second amongst the most sleep-deprived people in the world, behind only the Japanese. And it’s not just a matter of feeling tired the next day—over the long run, sleep deprivation can contribute to depression, obesity, diabetes, stroke, heart attacks, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

“The silent sleep-loss epidemic is the greatest public-health challenge we face in the 21st century in developed nations,” argues Dr Matthew Walker of the University of California, Berkeley, USA, in his new book, Why We Sleep. “Scientists like me have even started lobbying doctors to start ‘prescribing’ sleep.” Walker’s top tip for a successful ‘prescription’ is sticking to a schedule. The body naturally thrives on a regular sleep–wake rhythm, and a set bedtime will remove some of the temptation to spend your time in other ways. He also recommends avoiding, if at all possible, medicines that could ‘conflict’ with the sleep prescription, such as certain heart, blood pressure or asthma medication, plus some remedies for colds, coughs and allergies. There are alternatives available for many of these drugs, so if they’re costing you shut-eye, speak with your doctor.

Dr Partha Pratim Bose, the founder of Saans, a Delhi-based health-care foundation that works on sleep disorders, says, “Lack of sleep affects our cortical balancing function. Even one less hour of shut-eye can put you into a state called ‘sleep debt’ and ‘mortgaged mind’ for the next 16 hours of wakefulness. In matters of the mind, you become less decisive and rational, more erratic and emotionally disturbed. Microsleep has become an epidemic and consequences of this include dozing off at the wheel of your car or nodding off during a meeting. You can either be an owl or a lark but the important thing is to stick to your clock time and get at least seven to eight hours of sleep.”

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