How many hours of sleep is a good night’s sleep? It’s a common question these days.
Do you know that lack of adequate sleep or even excess sleep is one of the major, neglected and preventable cause of high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, heart attack and other chronic diseases?
When I share this with my patients, the first reaction I always get is “Really?”
A good sleep can do wonders. Sleeping is one of the basic human functions with enormous healing power which we often tend to undermine.
If you really look at it, human body is the greatest machines of all time. It is second to none. And as any good machine, it needs a good rest to keep working efficiently. Not less, not more, at the right time and in a right manner!
So, how many hours of sleep is a good night’s sleep?
Various “Sleep Research Institutes” recommend having a nocturnal natural sleep of at least 7 hours a day, ideally between 10 pm and 5 am when there is an optimum blood level of a protective natural hormone called melatonin.
Melatonin is involved in synchronizing body rhythm, sleep-wake cycle, regulating blood pressure and other important functions. So, it makes sense to get a sleep when there is optimum level of it in the blood.
According to Ayurveda, one must get up before sunrise that is before the cessation of VATA period in your body system. Getting up late that is after 6am when the KAPHA period begins, one feels dull, slow and heavy.
In accordance with PATANJALI Rishi, the best time to get up is the BRAMHA MUHURTA which is approximately 90 minutes before sunrise. This is the time when both the IDA and PINGALA ‘nadis’ functions simultaneously thereby promoting the activation of KUNDALINI which enlightens the person.
Less is bad
It is very well established that lack of adequate sleep leads to depression, poor performance, distorts memory, lowers the immune system, decreases sex drive and inhibit alertness levels. There is higher incidence of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in people with deficient sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation can cause premature aging and the person becomes prone to accidents.
More is bad too
Excess sleep in adults, that is sleeping for more than 8 to 10 hours is very unhealthy and should be completely avoided.
It has been observed that depression and lower socio-economic status is linked to over sleeping. Excess sleep increases the chances of coronary artery disease, diabetes, lethargy, obesity, depression, backaches and headache. It is also known to augment the chances of sudden death.
Generic reasons of bad sleep schedule
Indulgence in alcohol, smoking, oral tobacco or consuming stimulants like tea and coffee, late in the evening or at night will fragment your nocturnal sleep and disturb the natural bio-rhythm necessary to de-stress you and will also deprive you of the “early morning freshness”.
Congenial ambiences like the right amount of light, the right type of bed, your posture, the room temperature and a stress-free mental disposition, are also matters of importance. Poor quality of sleep will make you more stressful and this stress will disturb your sleep further.
Are you too busy to sleep?
Lots of people complain about not having enough time for sleep as they are always busy. They ask me what the solution is.
Sleep deprivation of less than 6 hours at night can be compensated with a short daytime nap or performing Yoga-Nidra or Transcendental meditation just for 20 minutes.
People who regularly practice Hath yoga can control the energy metabolism, which thereby improves the quality of sleep and decreases the length of the sleep, without causing any ill effects.
There are scientific methods of autosuggestion, hypnotherapy and breathing techniques that are worth mastering for rapid initiation of sleep; uniting the fragmented patterns, overcoming middle and terminal insomnia and enjoying a deep natural sleep.