Sleep is a physiological function that happens when our body is tired and wants to get some downtime to repair and rejuvenate itself. As human beings, sleep is wired into our DNA and happens automatically without any effort from us.
Most of the times, it coincides with the circadian rhythm of going to bed during sunset and waking up during sunrise, and this is the sleep patterns that was followed by our ancestors until the previous generation.
This circadian rhythm encompasses the physical, mental and behavioural changes that happen in our body as a way of responding to light and darkness. When the time is right, the bed is a comfortable one and the environment is cool, the sleep can be quite rejuvenating.
Today, the explosion of technology makes us connected all the time, and people aspire to do more things within a given time. As a result, the idea of going to bed has taken a back seat, and people have started going to bed at different times based on their schedule. Some people even work through the night, and this means, their circadian rhythm and sleep do not coincide at all.
These varying sleeping habits and work schedules have a negative impact on the body. In fact, insufficient sleep and irregular sleep patterns are increasingly being seen as a public health problem.
People who are sleep-deprived have a higher chance of suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes, depression, obesity and cancer. They also have a higher chance of death, not to mention the reduced quality of life and productivity.
This problem of irregular sleep patterns is a global phenomenon, and is attributed to societal causes such as work schedules and increased use of technology. The Centers for Diseases Control (CDC) estimates that 50 to 70 million Americans have sleep disorders.
Further, this lack of quality sleep is seen as a public problem because of the dangers that come with it. Many studies relate sleep insufficiency with road accidents, industrial mishaps and other occupational errors that cost lives and monetary loss for the society.
From an individual’s perspective too, irregular sleep patterns affect their ability to be productive and sharp. They will not be able to work efficiently, and this can eventually impact their performance in a negative way, regardless of the profession and industry in which an individual works.
To avoid these problems, it’s important for every individual to focus on their sleep pattern and do everything they can to improve the quality of their sleep. Some suggestions –
- Have a pre-sleep routine that can be any activity done to induce sleep such as reading a book or listening to soft music.
- Stay away from electronic gadgets at least half an hour before going to bed.
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, so that the body can secrete the melanin hormone to induce sleep at the right time.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcoholic beverages before going to bed.
- Invest in a good quality mattress that can provide the much needed rest and relaxation for mind and body.
In short, irregular sleep patterns tend to affect the bottom-line health and productivity of individuals, so it’s important to correct it at the earliest.