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Random Forays: Sleep on it for an instant reset

ByVivek Atray
Feb 25, 2024 09:12 AM IST

But the fact is that the modern human mind is not getting enough sleep. They lie awake with reels, with Netflix or with YouTube. Youngsters fret late into the night over their future.

Sleep on it! That’s been an adage for the ages which has dissuaded many an overthinker to surrender his woes to slumberland. The morrow usually brings with it a set of lighter, if not frothier, moods. The problems of last night don’t seem quite as monstrous. Fresh energy and a saner mind are able to tackle and analyse even monumental challenges with relative mental fortitude.

The problems of last night don’t seem quite as monstrous after a good sleep. (Shutterstock)

But the fact is that the modern human mind is not getting enough sleep. They lie awake with reels, with Netflix or with YouTube. Youngsters fret late into the night over their future.

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There is also no escape from a collective continuum of busyness which simply refuses to abate.

The very idea of detaching oneself from the express train of thoughts which assail us is a rare one.

Even vacations can prove to be strenuous. What’s the point of lying on the beaches of Goa or strolling in the hills of Himachal if the phone or iPad do not let us switch off?

If I am used to turning in at midnight and waking up past 7 am it is still passable. But if I sleep very late and wake up at 5.30 am for my commute to office, I am being unjust to my body and mind. The tendency to lie awake with phone in hand, watching all sorts of news-related videos is quite pernicious to the human brain.

When I was the deputy commissioner of Panchkula, I was stretched to my limits with workload. Sleep was almost like a dispensable commodity at times. But when a doctor told me to indulge in a short snooze whenever possible, my efficiency and energy levels escalated.

Some people have the uncanny knack of dozing off anywhere, any time. I am not one of them, but happily, I am able to fall asleep the moment I hit the pillow. Physical exercise helps immensely in being able to sleep better. Youngsters who play a sport regularly are much superior ‘sleepers’ than those who are couch potatoes or screen addicts. The same applies to older persons.

There are also those who keep planning to wake up earlier every day but tend to press the snooze button ‘ad nauseam’ and never manage to transform their habit. I have utter sympathy for such ones since I too wake up a tad later than I should.

Sleep patterns are also a function of personality types. Uncomplicated hard-working individuals somehow manage to doze off early and wake up very early.

According to a research paper published in America’s National Library of Medicine, sleep needs vary among individuals based on age, and response to sleep restriction changes with age. According to the report, only 65% of adults reported a healthy duration of sleep.

Mental stress and lifestyle-related ailments are enhancing their grip on humankind every day, and sleep ‘debt’ which basically denotes sleep deficiency is worsening such problems.

Sometimes, of course, it is the neighbour’s cacophonous ‘music’ or random persons ringing the doorbell that cause our sleep curtailment. I recall the day when a chief minister was to visit a small district and being a junior officer, I was sharing a room with a colleague. We finally managed some ‘shut-eye’ after supervising arrangements on the eve of the event, well past 2 am. I was mentally prepared to sleep for only four hours since we were to report early again. Imagine my sense of alarm when I found my colleague’s brother striding into our room with a few friends and talking loudly while sipping cups of tea at 4.30 am. No formalities were observed at all! Apparently, the group was keen to meet the CM and while I was still groggy, they were determined to shell out all details of their application to the big man!

Mankind surely needs to make a determined effort to sleep more. Urban office-goers are the worst culprits and are self-destructing by sacrificing sleep for work or for whatever else.

And one trick that I have found immensly useful is to meditate or read before sleeping instead of watching videos. Let’s hope our GenZ imbibes some sleep-friendly ideas ASAP, otherwise the human race will be very groggy in times to come.

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