Sleep: Normality & Tips for Inducing Healthy Sleep

Sleep: Normality & Tips for Inducing Healthy Sleep

WHAT IS SLEEP?

Sleep is distinguished by low levels of physical activity and reduced sensory awareness. As discussed by Siegel (2008), a definition of sleep must also include mention of the interplay of the circadian and homeostatic mechanisms that regulate sleep.

SLEEP AND BRAIN: 

Sleep-wake cycles seem to be controlled by multiple brain areas acting in conjunction with one another. Some of these areas include the thalamus, the hypothalamus, and the pons.

The hypothalamus contains the SCN—the biological clock of the body—in addition to other nuclei that, in conjunction with the thalamus, regulate slow-wave sleep. The pons are important for regulating rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. 

Sleep is also associated with the secretion and regulation of several hormones from several endocrine glands including melatonin, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and growth hormone. The pineal gland releases melatonin during sleep. Melatonin is thought to be involved in the regulation of various biological rhythms and the immune system. The pituitary gland also secretes growth hormone, during sleep, which plays a role in physical growth and maturation as well as other metabolic processes. 

NEED OF SLEEP: 

ADAPTIVE FUNCTION OF SLEEP:

One hypothesis from an evolutionary psychology perspective might argue that sleep is essential to restore resources that are expended during the day. 

Another evolutionary hypothesis of sleep holds that our sleep patterns evolved as an adaptive response to predatory risks, which increase in darkness.

Sleep may serve no single universally adaptive function.

COGNITIVE FUNCTION OF SLEEP: 

Another theory regarding why we sleep involves sleep’s importance for cognitive function and memory formation. 

Indeed, we know sleep deprivation results in disruptions in cognition and memory deficits, leading to impairments in our abilities to maintain attention, make decisions, and recall long-term memories.

CAUSES OF DEPRIVATION OF SLEEP: 

  1. Pathological conditions of the brain derange the normal action of the mind. Chief among these is hyperemia, or excessive blood supply, on the one hand, and excessive anemia, or lack of supply, on the other.
  2. Protracted overuse of the brain: overuse or overwork until the strain produces, or tends to produce vasomotor paralysis. 
  3. Worry: it is this everlasting worry that produces more than three-fourths of all mental disasters that befall the children of men. 
  4. The natural temperament of some people is a formidable obstacle.
  5. Use of MOBILE PHONE: sparkling lights of digital screens hinder the secretion of melatonin. Hindrance of secretion produces sleeplessness. 

NON- MEDICINAL ADVICES FOR SLEEPLESSNESS: 

  1. PHILOSOPHICAL APPROACH: “Take no worry for morrow”. Meditation and relaxation techniques help quiet mental activities and unnecessary worries.
  2. PHYSICAL ASPECTS: proper exercise, proper diet, careful attention to all excretory organs. Physical exercises increase the cardiac activities and circulation of blood. Thus, they are important for the proper functioning of the brain. 
  3. PROPER NOURISHMENT. Restricting fast food those are rich in fat is helpful for proper bodily nourishment. A properly balanced diet is a necessity for the optimum functioning of the body. Avoidance of particular nutritional agents is also harmful to the body. Drinking a glass of warm milk before bedtime is effective for inducing sleep. 
  4. A warm bath, followed by a cold douche and brisk rubbing. Cultivating this habit at bedtime has proven effective for many patients. 
  5. The fresh air supply in the bedroom. The supply of proper oxygen and fresh air is important. 
  6. Beds should be firm in texture, level, and well elevated from the floor. Head towards the north and feet towards the south. 
  7. POSITION OF HEAD: in hyperemia: the head and shoulder should be well elevated. In cases of anemia: very slight elevation. 
  8. MASSAGE by a trained professional is very helpful. Massages tend to produce relaxation of muscles and have their soothing properties. 
  9. COMMON LETTUCE SALAD at night. Eating a bowl of common lettuce before bedtime has proven effective for many patients who are suffering from sleeplessness. 
  10. AVOIDANCE OF ARTIFICIAL LIGHTS AT NIGHT: avoiding digital devices like mobile phones, laptops, and tablets before bedtime helps in the induction of early, healthy sleep. 

COMMON SLEEP DISORDERS:  

Insomnia: a consistent difficulty in falling or staying asleep, is the most common of the sleep disorders. Individuals with insomnia often experience long delays between the times that they go to bed and fall asleep. In addition, these individuals may wake up several times during the night only to find that they have difficulty getting back to sleep.

Parasomnias: A parasomnia is one of a group of sleep disorders in which unwanted, disruptive motor activity and/or experiences during sleep play a role. Parasomnias can occur in either REM or NREM phases of sleep. Sleepwalking, restless leg syndrome, and night terrors are all examples of parasomnias.

Sleepwalking: In sleepwalking, or somnambulism, the sleeper engages in relatively complex behaviours ranging from wandering about to driving an automobile. During periods of sleepwalking, sleepers often have their eyes open, but they are not responsive to attempts to communicate with them. Sleepwalking most often occurs during slow-wave sleep, but it can occur at any time during a sleep period in some affected individuals.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD): REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) occurs when the muscle paralysis associated with the REM sleep phase does not occur. Individuals who suffer from RBD have high levels of physical activity during REM sleep, especially during disturbing dreams. These behaviors vary widely, but they can include kicking, punching, scratching, yelling, and behaving like an animal that has been frightened or attacked.

Narcolepsy: Unlike the other sleep disorders described in this section, a person with narcolepsy cannot resist falling asleep at inopportune times. These sleep episodes are often associated with cataplexy, which is a lack of muscle tone or muscle weakness, and in some cases involves complete paralysis of the voluntary muscles.

About the author

Dr. Archit Mehta

Dr. Archit Mehta - M.D. (hom.) Psychiatry (scholar)