Until about 2015, I was sleeping for about five hours a night on average, because, I thought, the consequential two additional working hours were far more valuable. In any case, since my sleep for those five hours was pretty sound, I never felt the need to sleep longer. Depending on what time I had to wake next morning, I would simply go to bed five hours before. I used to take a lot of morning flights those days, so the wake-up time would be as early as 3 AM on some days. And, as late as 7 AM on the days I was not travelling.
Warning bells rang for me when ITC Hotels started studying the science of sleep more deeply. Purpose of their research was to ensure that every guest got a good night’s sleep and woke up refreshed. ITC Hotels actually published a small booklet on sleep I got inquisitive and read up some more.
“What happens if one doesn’t sleep enough?”, was the question I was interested in. To my dismay, I found out that insufficient sleep could increase blood pressure, impact digestive tract and trigger many other diseases.
My BP was already high for a few years, and I was attributing it to work-related stress. For all you know, sleep deficiency could be the reason, and I wasn’t even aware. I tried to consciously increase my sleeping time after that by reducing the early morning flights, but couldn’t follow this through consistently.
Later on, when I joined Rachna’s holistic nutrition program, she insisted on at least seven hours of sleep, reinforcing that “much of our stress – physical or mental – can repair itself when we sleep”. Consistency in my compliance improved, because of the twenty-four-hour chart she gave me, which allowed very little scope for deviation, whether it was food, sleep, water or exercise.
Other nuggets of wisdom on sleep include:
- “The blood pressure goes down while sleeping, giving the much needed rest to heart and blood vessels”;
- “Sleep restores the body and powers the mind, thereby fortifying every part of our system”
- “Longer waking hours also increase the risk of obesity, as you end up eating more; even otherwise, you feel less hungry when you are well-rested, because lack of sleep raises the hormone ghrelin (makes you feel hungry) and brings down the hormone leptin (makes you feel full)”.
From the ITC Hotels research, I knew the importance of the quality of mattress & pillow, light in the room, and the noise levels on good sleep. In addition to the rhythm of fixed sleeping and waking up time that Rachna’s chart helped me get into, she also got me hooked on to the Chamomile Tea before sleeping. Try it.
End note on the title of this piece, “Good Night, Sleep Tight”: Readers from my generation may have already recalled this 1968 Beatles song.
This was written by John Lennon for his son Julian. Remember the lyrics? “Now the sun turns out his light” and “now the moon begins to shine”. Calming, no?
A senior business leader at ITC Ltd. He could hide behind lack of time but has healed himself, lost 35 kg and walks the talk on making time for yourself to get healthy.
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