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Sweet dreams

Sleep has a lot of functions and constitutes an essential part of being and living.

health and fitness Updated: Jul 30, 2011 20:05 IST
Shikha Sharma
Shikha Sharma
Hindustan Times

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.


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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First Published: Jul 29, 2011 17:56 IST