Sweet dreams

  • Shikha Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Jul 30, 2011 20:05 IST
Sleep has a lot of functions and constitutes an essential part of being and living. Some of its known functions are:

1.During sleep, the body rejuvenates and regenerates itself. This process is very important for the health of organs and tissues, because tissue breakdown happens on a daily basis, and if repair and regeneration doesn’t happen in a timely fashion, the chances of mutations, cancerous growths, etc., can happen at a faster rate.
2.During sleep, neuronal systems in the brain consolidate information into systematic storage, so that in future when we want to remember something, the information can be retrieved.
3.During sleep, muscles are rested, otherwise, muscles, spine and joints are always in use. Sleep

Side effects of not getting adequate sleep:
Irritability at work
Weight gain and thyroid problems 
Lack of concentration
Inappropriate aggression
Higher incidences of accidents
Increased vulnerability to various allergies
Tissue breakdown, joint and knee problems
Digestive problems
Significantly increased vulnerability to stress

How much sleep is essential
For adults, six to eight hours of sleep is essential. The number can vary from person to person. In small children, sleep requirements are higher; this decreases with age. There is a sleep spurt during the adolescent years.

Sleep patterns have changed due to the following reasons: 
The Net, games, jobs that entail night shifts
The cosmopolitan city culture 
Higher consumption of alcohol and stimulants
Certain easy-to-obtain sleep medications
Increased business travel across time zones
We live in a culture where work addictions and staying awake longer have become aspirational.

Next week: How do we balance our sleep in the current environment?

From HT Brunch, July 31

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