Sleep is one of the most important activities of the entire day. Once the stress and fatigue from the entire day is piled up in our body, it is sleep which helps our body in repairing itself and preparing us for a new day. People who do not take enough sleep not only have to face lethargy and fatigue while they are awake, but are also prone to stress and mental breakdown, along with lifestyle diseases like hypertension.
Now, before I move on to the main topic, I would like to have a quick recall on why is sleep so important. If you still want to read about the impact of stress on sleep during lockdown scroll further down or click here.
Benefits of sleep
Sleep has numerous benefits. In fact, sleep is so essential that we cannot go without sleep for more than a few days. Without sleep, our body will crash and stop to work! Let us see in what other ways does sleep helps the body.
1. Improves concentration and productivity
Since sleep is necessary for proper repairing of various tissues of our body including muscles and brain, proper sleep enhances our concentration, productivity, cognition and overall performance1. Have you ever noticed how you are irritable and unable to focus at work when you haven’t had optimum sleep a night before?
2. Keeps weight in check
Yes, everyone knows that healthy diet and workouts are the keys to maintaining the right weight. However, we cannot do it without appropriate sleep. Studies2 show that lack of sleep is related to obesity3. Various mechanisms may be responsible for such an effect like hormonal balance4 , appropriate appetite5 and motivation to workout.
3. Reduces risk of stroke and heart disease
According to various studies6 it is evident that people who sleep about 7-8 hours per night are at lower risk of having a stroke or cardiovascular diseases.
4. Reduces risk of diabetes
5. Keeps depression at bay
Sleep helps in reducing stress. And, since stress is a predisposing factor for depression, good sleep helps to reduce the risk of depression9 and other mental health issues. Research10 has shown that most mental health disorders are often associated with sleep disturbances like Obstructive Sleep Apnea and insomnia. In fact, people with sleep issues are more likely to have suicidal tendencies11.
6. Boosts immunity
Research has shown that sleep is directly associated with immunity and people who don’t sleep enough are more likely to suffer from infections12.
Now that we have discussed how important sleep is to our health, let us see what factors might be responsible for causing a person erratic sleep patterns.
Factors affecting your sleep
There are many reasons and bad habits that can cost us our sleep, thereby, resulting in physical and mental health issues. In fact, a study commissioned by Philips in 2020 titled “Wake Up Call: Global Sleep Satisfaction Trends”, highlights that only half the people worldwide are satisfied with their sleep. Let us look at some of the important factors or bad habits that disturb our sleep.
- Long work hours
- Binge-watching at a night
- Late night workouts
- Heavy meal at dinner or midnight snacks
- Late night tea or coffee
- Late night conversations or arguments
- Increased screen time on laptops and mobile phones
- The study conducted by Philips shows that 49% of people are not satisfied with their sleep, out of which 33% report that it is worrying or stress which is the main reason for their sleeplessness.
- Sleep disorders like Obstructive Sleep Apnea or insomnia. Sometimes people suffer from complete lack of sleep, a condition called as insomnia and would often require an intervention. Your physician or psychiatrist will prescribe you hypnotic drugs to help you sleep.
- Interestingly, the study conducted by Philips also found that snoring from a partner usually affects the quality of sleep for some people. In fact, many of couples sleep separately simply to avoid those snores, which not only affects their sleep, but also their relationship causing further damage to their mental health.
To know more, visit your nearest doctor today or call on 1800 258 7678.
How is stress related to lockdown due to Coronavirus affecting our sleep?
Now, interestingly and unfortunately, the lockdown because of Coronavirus has surfaced a lot of mental health issues in people staying at home. Most common complaint is that people are finding it hard to sleep. There are various causes for the same, like:
1 The major factor that is causing the stress during this corona virus lockdown is employment, money and ration. People who used to work on daily wages cannot go out to work. They are all out of money and cannot afford even basic food items. Although, government, NGOs and some individuals are helping some of them financially or with food, it is not enough and not even reaching to a majority of them. And, that’s the reason why many of them14 even wanted to walk several hundreds of kms during the lockdown to reach their native places.
Many people have hoarded on to months of ration, while many of them failed to purchase enough ration and later had to buy at hiked prices15.
Also, while many employers and business owners are not gaining a cent due to business shutdown during the lockdown, they are still supposed to pay their staff from their own pockets. The additional financial burden on these employers would eventually make them fire a lot of employees, causing a mass unemployment. So, whether they are employers or employees, the stress is taking a toll on them.
2 A lot of examinations are postponed. The students who had prepared well for the exams are now worried about losing their chance to excel.
3 Not going out in the sun affects our body clock. Our brain is not able to distinguish day from night and thus cannot send the right signals for sleep.
4 Though, many working professionals are lending a helping hand at home, not all of them are doing the same. Those who are just playing sloth at home are likely to suffer more from sleep issues. Since their body does not have enough fatigue to be in want of rest, again our brain is unable to send the right signals for sleep. Moreover, those of us who lie down on the bed or couch all day long are going to suffer from back ache or generalized body ache which again will make us lose sleep.
5 Many people who are spending more time at home will be able to find some quality time with their partners and family. However, too much of everything is bad. The more time we spend at home, it is possible that it will also lead to arguments and stressful times among the people, exposing them to greater stress and hence lack of sleep.
6 Many people are using this time to binge watch movies and web series which they could not have done during the normal days. When our brain is engrossed in such exciting, adrenaline-rich activities, it loses track of time. In fact, the excitement makes one avoid sleep, ignoring the body’s call for rest.
7 People are stressed because their kids or known ones are estranged in another location away from them. This worry is also causing mental health issues and lack of sleep among a lot of individuals.
8 I do not even have to mention about those who have suffered from Coronavirus, or seen their loved ones suffer from it. Worse is to have seentheir loved ones meet their demise at the hands of this dreadful disease. Also, the families of corona warriors (like doctors, health workers, policemen, sanitation workers, even grocery store workers) who have to see their loved ones go out every day and face the threat of this virus cannot help but worry all day and night.
9 Now, last but not the least, some people are worried about coronavirus. And, like an OCD they will keep cleaning their hands more often than needed, stay locked indoors (which is good), but also worry all the time that what if they catch the infection. It is this stress that will keep playing over and over in their minds, and even when they are on the bed, worries will keep them away from sleep.
All in all, this lockdown in lieu of the threat of the Coronavirus is playing not only with our health but also with our economy, our mental peace and sleep. If you want to stay safe from Coronavirus, it is advised that you follow the guidelines provided by the government like social distancing, staying at home, washing hands regularly with soap or sanitizer, using face masks (and gloves). However, if you also want to keep yourself healthy both mentally and physically, it is important to follow some good and healthy practices like:
Workouts not only help with losing weight, but also promote mental health. You may use any form of workouts at home like walking, lifting weights, skipping rope, stationary biking, stretching workouts, yoga etc.
Meditation is a great way to boost your mental health. You need to find a method of meditation that you like.
3. Rediscover your hobbies
Well, many of you might have forgotten about the hobbies you once had due to your busy work schedule. It is time that you rediscover them or use this free time to learn new skills that you always wanted to have. It could be anything like playing a musical instrument, painting, singing, writing, reading books, blogging. Though, we would not advise picking up travelling as a hobby at this time (hold it for later when the lockdown is over). So, what are you waiting for? Go and find your old guitar, or that canvas and brush set you have already forgotten you owned.
4. Moderate television, mobile use
You may have ample of free time but do not spend it all in front of screen. It is good to catch up with movies or web-series you always wanted to see, but too much screen time is going to affect your health.
5. Family time
Now that fortune has given you this opportunity, make the best of it. Spend quality time with your spouse, kids, parents or brothers and sisters. Rediscover the sparks in your relationship. Teach your kids about the games you used to play in your childhood like ludo, snakes and ladders, monopoly, carrom, chess etc. Relive the best moments you had with your parents or brothers and sisters.
6. Follow sleep hygiene
Sleep hygiene is a practice of good habits that help you have an adequate sleep. Read more about sleep hygiene here.
Sleep is a very essential part of your daily routine. Although, the threat of coronavirus has disrupted our lives in more than one way, do not let it take away your sleep. Follow good practices to promote mental health and be careful about coronavirus. Do not take this lockdown as a curse, but use it to make your lives better, and not sleepless. #DontSleepOnIt
This article is an awareness initiative of Philips. The readers are advised not to replicate to any information included herein to get any tests done or treat any health problem without consulting a Doctor(s). Philips does not offer medical advice or recommendations and the readers should not rely on the information provided, as a substitute for consultation with Doctor(s). We recommend consulting a Doctor(s), when in doubt or otherwise. The views expressed in the article are the personal opinions of the Doctor(s) and Philips shall not be liable for any damages arising from the contents of this article, including but not limited to direct, indirect, incidental, punitive and consequential damages.