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Sleep

Expert advise on how to get a full night’s sleep

We all know the importance of a good night’s sleep for an active life. Not that well known is the fact that our body produces the most growth hormones when in deep slumber. Dr Laurence Smolley, at the Sleep Disorders Center at Cleveland Clinic Florida says that “recreational exercisers need a good night’s sleep even more than elite athletes.”

In the early morning hours, when sleep is at its soundest, your body’s growth hormone factory goes into overdrive. And getting good amounts of growth hormone each night leaves you feeling energized just as its shortage can cause moodiness and irritability.

Sleep impairs the ability of people to respond to stimulus like a tennis ball coming at them, Smolley said. According to Dr Alexandre Abreu, an assistant professor of medicine and sleep specialist at the Miller School of Medicine in Miami University, less than six hours of sleep hampers the body and the mind.

Smolley and Abreu recommend dimming the lights in the hours before bedtime and stowing away electronic gadgets with bright screens. Bright lights curb melatonin production, a hormone that regulates the cycles of activity and sleep. “Keep the bedroom cool, quiet and dark,” Smolley says “Get into the bed only when you are feeling really sleepy and then allow sleep to happen.”

And do not have any alcohol for at least four hours before bedtime. Alcohol may relax the mind but it also means frequent the trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Also, try and staying away from foods and drinks with caffeine after 2 pm. Napping should be avoided unless you are unwell as they make it difficult to sleep well through a night.

Also on the to-do list is at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, six days a week. “If you are overweight, you need to do 60-90 minutes most days,” Smolley said. “Walking at a brisk pace counts.”

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