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3 Biggest reasons why sleep is crucial for our mind and body

There are several factors that are responsible for our bodies to fall asleep and wake up. We possess an internal clock – a 24-hour sleep cycle regulated by hormones. This is known as the circadian rhythm.  

This clock is essentially regulated by two separate processes. One is a sort of pressure that urges you to fall asleep every hour that you are awake, around the time of late evening – a compound known as adenosine is responsible for creating the urge. An increasing amount of this compound signals you to fall asleep, it then breaks down while you are asleep.

The second process is under the control of the aforementioned circadian rhythm – it becomes in sync with specific cues from the environment. These cues can include the amount of light, darkness, temperature, etc and all of these determine how sleepy you feel. 

There is another compound that is released which helps your body become drowsy and prepare for sleep – melatonin. A peak in this hormone is what researchers believe is crucial in preparing your body for sleep.

Some factors such as artificial light late in the night disrupt the production of such compounds and make it difficult to fall asleep.

Another compound, cortisol, is released towards the morning that signals all the other hormones in the body to help prepare you to wake up.

The natural schedule and rhythm of our internal clock can vary with age – it is noted that teens often go to sleep much later than children that are younger and adults that are older than them. This is due to the fact the release and thereby the attainment of the peak of melatonin in teenagers is later than that in adults and children. 

Sleep plays a very essential role when it comes to maintaining health and well-being in our lives. Receiving good amounts of sleep regularly benefits us in the long run by protecting our physical and mental health along with ensuring our safety and promoting our quality of life.

There are several detrimental effects linked with not receiving a good night’s sleep for a prolonged duration of time. 

Here are three of the most important reasons why sleep is required for the proper functioning of our mind and body.

Healthy Brain Function and Emotional Well-Being

Sleep enables the brain to function properly, prepare itself for the next day, and form pathways for absorbing, processing and retaining information. 

Cutting short on sleep often interferes with all aspects of daily life such as work, education, and social interactions. It hampers the processes of learning, focussing, and relating. It becomes hard to understand and empathize with those around us and we tend to feel cranky, upset, or anxious. Those who do not sleep well take longer to finish tasks, have a slower response time and tend to make more mistakes.

Research reveals that a good night’s sleep can boost many several functions of the brain and immensely aids in the process of learning. It helps you to enhance problem-solving skills, be creative, pay attention, and make well-informed decisions.

There are also some studies that suggest that the deficiency of sleep can cause trouble in controlling emotions and behaviourbehavior and the ability to cope with change. It is also linked with certain mental health issues such as anxiety, chronic stress, depression, and also indulging in addictive practices. Sleep deficiency may also lead to mood swings and kill initiative and motivation.

Physical Health

It is very likely for those who do not receive proper sleep to feel weary and tired all day. It negatively impacts alertness and hampers the ability to feel refreshed. 

Sleep is an important factor when it comes to our physical health. While we sleep, various processes are ongoing in our body such as hormone production, assimilation of food, healing and repairing damaged tissues, maintaining fertility, brings about puberty, etc. Not giving our body adequate rest can hamper such processes and lead to unwanted and detrimental effects in the long run.

Sleep deficiency is associated with an increased risk of chronic illnesses such as heart and kidney disease, elevated blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.

It can also increase the risk of obesity – a small experiment conducted among teenagers revealed that the sacrifice of every hour of sleep increased the chances of them becoming obese by 2%. 

Some hormones produced during the while that we sleep include the ones that make us feel hungry and full. When this balance is not achieved, we often lose our appetite and that reduces our intake of nutrition or makes us excessively hungry and overeat.

Since insulin production and reactivity in our body is dependent on sleep, those who do not get adequate amounts of rest are more prone to suffer from diabetes.

The hormone that is responsible for growth is produced while we sleep. It helps in increasing bone and muscle mass and repairs cells and damaged tissues.

Sleep also supports healthy growth and development. Deep sleep triggers the body to release the hormone that promotes normal growth in children and teens. This hormone also boosts muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues in children, teens, and adults. Sleep also plays a role in puberty and fertility.

Additionally, our immune system is heavily reliant on good sleep to function properly. Sleep deficiency weakens our immune system and thereby hampers its ability to ward off infections caused by pathogens.

Daytime Performance and Safety

If you lose an hour or two’s worth of sleep every day for a while, it will accumulate to as if you have not slept at all for a whole day. This can be very dangerous. 

It may lead you to take several short naps throughout the day which can seriously hamper productivity. 

Or, it may lead you to microsleep – moments when your brain nearly dozes off and you are not aware of your sleep. It can affect how you absorb information.

There are many risks associated with the lack of sleep and there are several who do not even realize that they are suffering from it. 

It’s very common not to notice how adversely sleep deficiency can affect our daily routines – we go on leading our lives by believing the myth that we can function just as well by skimping on sleep.

Believing this is the most dangerous one of them all – it literally puts us at risk when it comes to performing daily tasks.

For instance, somebody who is low on sleep and feels drowsy may feel like he is able to drive – but the fact of the matter is that drowsiness has brought about many more accidents than drunkenness. 

It is not just drivers who are affected by the poor quality of sleep – professionals in all sorts of fields such as lawyers, healthcare workers, mechanics – can all be sufferers.

Sleep deficiency is known to cause large-scale damage by increasing the frequency of human error that can thereby lead to tragic accidents.

“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together” –  Thomas Dekker

Written by: Jahnabee Adhikari
Jahnabee is a part-time blogger, full-time dog lover. She believes that writing actually possesses the potential to change the world. She can be often found fantasizing about poetry or buried nose-deep in a Sudha Murthy novel.

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Indian Women’s Health Supplements – Everything you need to know about

Women go through constant changes in their bodies throughout their lifetime. Their physiology is under the influence of various hormones that control body processes such as menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. All of these stages necessitate different nutritional strategies.

Hormones regulate most of the processed in our body and are themselves are influenced by a variety of factors such as nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fats, and proteins.

Often, these nutrients that are essential to our body do not get adequately absorbed into our bodies or need to be increased in their amounts at times for specific reasons. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a daily recommended intake (DRI) – a stipulated amount of nutrients to be taken every day that meets the requirements of a healthy body.

During pregnancy, a mother requires some vitamins and minerals in increased amounts and these can be administered in the form of prenatal vitamins. She also requires 400 micrograms a day of folic acid from fortified foods or supplements.

Also, due to age and approaching menopause, a condition arises in females which is known as osteoporosis. This condition is of two types, women often suffer from the one that arises due to calcium dissolution from their bones as their estrogen levels drop. This causes the bones to lose mass and strength. 

Those who follow a strict vegetarian diet require additional Vitamin B12, and vegans or those who are lactose intolerant, who do not consume any dairy products might risk being deficient of Vitamin A, B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin). 

Older women who may avoid sunlight can be deficient in Vitamin D.

Some indicators of deficiencies include fatigue, muscle pains, spasms or cramps, weakness, dizziness, poor night vision, headaches, etc.

To combat such deficiencies and prevent the eventual onset of unwanted conditions that typically arise from them, women need to obtain these nutrients in the form of supplements. 

It is always recommended to confer with a professional before starting the consumption of any dietary supplements. It is also important to keep in mind that supplements are not intended to replace or substitute whole foods.

Be sure to ask about possible side effects and interactions with any such supplements. 

Sometimes, combining prescription pills and supplements may yield an undesirable outcome. 

Taking more than the DRI may cause toxicity and increase the risk of side effects. 

Those who consume foods through a well-balanced diet that comprises of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, and fish, nuts and seeds usually don’t require supplements. 

Calcium:
Calcium typically constitutes around 1% of a woman’s body weight. Calcium ions facilitate muscle contraction and are essential for regular cell functioning. The mineral can be found in dairy products and fortified foods. Women are four times more prone to osteoporosis than men, which is why premenopausal women must continue to obtain their required intake through supplements. 
Dosage: Can vary anywhere from between 500-1,000 milligrams, depending upon factors such as age.

Fish Oil:
Fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon, are a rich source of omega-3s, namely EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Due to reasons such as fear of heavy metal toxicity, a lot of women refrain from consuming seafood. This results in nutrient deficiency. Omega-3 fatty acids help in maintaining heart and blood vessel health along with the reduction of circulation of triglycerides which cause heart diseases. 
Dosage: One gram each of EPA and DHA daily is an adequate amount for women. Those who have elevated triglyceride levels can consider taking 2-3 grams, under a physician’s guidance. Pregnant women often take 1 gram of DHA for the development of their baby’s brain. 

B Vitamins:
Primary B Vitamins comprise B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), and B12 (cobalamin). These are water-soluble vitamins that get flushed out of the body with urine and thus need to be replaced daily. All adult women who exercise and burn calories have a higher requirement of these vitamins. Women older than 50 need these vitamins in the form of supplements as their bodies find it hard to directly absorb them from food.
Dosage: A multivitamin supplement, besides a well-balanced diet comprising of lean meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, should be enough to provide around 50 – 100% of the daily value of these B Vitamins. 

Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, whose goodness is best derived when consumed with healthy fats. The vitamin helps us absorb calcium and plays a role in the development and maintenance of strong and healthy bones. A lot of women are not exposed adequately to sunlight for various reasons such as rashes, sunburn and skin tan. Vitamin D supplements containing calcitriol are recommended in such cases.
Dosage: Pre-menopausal women should take around 12.5 micrograms of this vitamin every day and post-menopausal and elderly women should increase their dosage to around 25 micrograms per day. 

Bhookha Haathi products are naturally fortified with many of these vitamins and minerals. Bhookha Haathi’s Natural Dry Fruit Booster contains many vitamins such as A, E, C and additionally, aids in the absorption of the vitamin B complex. It is rich in dietary fiber, gluten-free and lowers bad cholesterol. It provides high amounts of energy and can be substituted for regular store-bought protein powders. Moreover, all the ingredients are locally sourced, organic and contain no harmful additives, preservatives or artificial colouring. 

Written by: Jahnabee Adhikari
Jahnabee is a part-time blogger, full-time dog lover. She believes that writing actually possesses the potential to change the world. She can be often found fantasizing about poetry or buried nose-deep in a Sudha Murthy novel.

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