Sleep is a crucial function that allows your body and mind to replenish, allowing you to feel refreshed and alert when you wake up.A good night’s sleep is also helpful for the body to maintain its overall health. Brain fails to function properly if you do not get optimum amount of sleep. It may be difficult for you to concentrate, think clearly, or recall things as a result of this. While you sleep, your body works to maintain healthy brain function and physical health. Sleep also helps children and teenagers grow and develop. Sleep deprivation can cause immediate harm (such as in a vehicle accident), or it can cause long-term harm. For example, persistent sleep deprivation can increase your risk of developing certain chronic health problems.

What induces sleep? 

Many factors play a role in how your body prepares for sleeping and waking. Your body has an internal “body clock” that determines when you should be awake and when you should be sleeping. A 24-hour repeating pattern is normal for the body clock (called the circadian rhythm). This rhythm is controlled by the interaction of two mechanisms. The first is a growing desire to sleep with each hour you are awake. The desire to sleep peaks in the evening, when the majority of people fall asleep. Your internal body clock is involved in a second phase. This clock is in tune with certain environmental stimuli. When it comes to determining when you are awake and when you are drowsy, light, darkness, and other indicators can help.

How many hours of sleep can be called adequate?

The amount of sleep you need is mostly determined by your age. For various age groups, the National Sleep Foundation recommends the following daily sleep allocation.

Age Recommended Amount of Sleep per Day
0-3 months 14-17 hours
4-11 months 12-15 hours
1-2 years 11-14 hours
3-5 years 10-13 hours
6-13 years 9-11 hours
14-17 years 8-10 hours
18-25 years 7-9 hours
26-64 years 7-9 hours
65 years or older 7-8 hours

Sleep loss accumulates over time if you lose sleep on a regular basis or opt to sleep less than necessary. Your sleep debt is the total quantity of sleep you haven’t gotten. If you miss 2 hours of sleep per night, for example, after a week, you’ll owe 14 hours of sleep. Napping is a typical way for people to deal with their sleepiness. Napping might provide you with a boost in alertness and performance for a brief period of time. Napping, on the other hand, does not provide all of the other benefits of sleeping at night. As a result, you won’t be able to compensate for the sleep you’ve lost. It’s also crucial to sleep when your body tells you it’s time. Even if they sleep the appropriate number of hours for their age group, people can suffer from sleep deprivation. People whose sleep is out of sync with their body clocks (such as shift workers) or who have their sleep disrupted frequently (such as carers or emergency responders) may need to pay added attention to their sleep needs.

Is an afternoon nap good for you?

Napping in the afternoon is not only widespread but also a normal component of life in many cultures. If you’re in perfect health, these short daytime sleeps can help you catch up on sleep after a late night, make you feel less irritable, or ensure you’re well-rested if you work outside of regular daytime hours. They can also keep you safe on the road by preventing accidents caused by drowsy driving. However, the research on napping isn’t entirely positive. Adults who take long naps during the day, for example, are more prone to develop diabetes, heart disease, and depression, according to some research. The desire to sleep during the day could indicate that they are not getting enough sleep at night, which is linked to a higher risk of chronic disease development. Drowsiness during the day could signal that you are obtaining poor-quality sleep, which could indicate a sleep problem. Napping can create a vicious cycle in some cases. You nap throughout the day to make up for lost sleep at night, but you have a harder difficulty falling asleep at night since you napped during the day. As a result, one option for improving overall nighttime sleep is to reduce naps. To avoid drowsiness when you wake up, short periods of sleep of around 20 minutes may be the best option. Shorter naps can also help you avoid having difficulties falling asleep later in the day.

What you can do to enhance sleep?

You can make changes to your sleeping habits. First and foremost, make sure you receive enough sleep. You could find that getting enough sleep each night makes you happier and more productive throughout the day. It may also help you improve your sleeping habits if you keep in mind these few basic points:

  • Sleep in well-ventilated rooms and freshen up your home on a regular basis- We take in oxygen from the air and exhale carbon dioxide during respiration (CO2). CO2 builds up in cramped, compact rooms or limited spaces while sleeping. A range of physiological functions, such as thinking, coordination, and sleep, are disrupted when CO2 concentrations surpass the limit of 1000 ppm. Indoor air quality can be monitored by a variety of equipment on the market.
  • Turn off all light sources- The amount of light that enters your room affects how well you sleep. The signals that the eye transmits in the presence of darkness or light are received by our internal clock (a set of cells in the hypothalamus). In reaction, it produces either tiredness (by increasing melatonin production) or alertness (by decreasing melatonin production) (by increasing body temperature and releasing various hormones). When the eye detects even the tiniest source of light (e.g., TV or electric clocks) during the night, melatonin production is halted, and sleep is disrupted. Sleep disturbances have been linked to using a nightlight, staying up late in front of the TV or computer screen, and using your phone.
  • Incorporate sports into your regular routine- Exercising shortly before bedtime may prevent some people from falling asleep due to overstimulation, but exercising in the morning or during the day significantly improves the quality and duration of sleep.
  • Establish a good nighttime routine – Every day, go to bed and wake up at the same hour. Have a consistent bedtime and a good nighttime routine for your children. The majority of the time, people are unaware of their habits and activities in the hour before going to sleep. Nonetheless, these have a major impact on the quality of their nightly sleep. Using smartphones in bed and being exposed to blue light, for example, has been linked to increased sleep latency, sleep disruptions, and poor performance the next day.
  • Avoid all kinds of noise– Noise levels exceeding 50 decibels will cut your total sleeping time in half. Even if you believe you have grown acclimated to the incessant sounds in your environment, your body still perceives and reacts to them.
  • Regulate your diet– Before going to bed, stay away from sugary drinks, fruits, and snacks. The dip in blood sugar levels will jolt you awake when you eventually doze off. Make sure to include meals high in L-tryptophan in your evening meal (e.g., walnuts, pumpkin, beans and lentils, spirulina, spinach, soy, and broccoli). This amino acid helps you sleep better by increasing the production of melatonin and serotonin.

Can melatonin help you fall asleep?

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone. It is generated by the pineal gland in the brain and released into the bloodstream. The pineal gland produces melatonin in response to darkness, but it stops making it when exposed to light. As a result, melatonin aids in the regulation of our circadian rhythm and the synchronisation of our sleep-wake cycle with the hours of the day and night. It eases the transition to sleep and promotes consistent, high-quality sleep as a result. Endogenous melatonin is melatonin produced within the body, however, the hormone can also be produced externally. Exogenous melatonin is frequently manufactured in a lab and sold as a dietary supplement in the form of pills, capsules, chewables, or liquids. Melatonin pills may be beneficial in some situations for both adults and children, according to research.

    • In adults- Adults with sleeping disorders caused by Delayed Sleep-Wake Phase Disorder (DSWPD) or jet lag have the greatest potential advantages from melatonin, according to research. DSWPD is a circadian rhythm disease that causes a person’s sleep pattern to be moved later, frequently by several hours. It can be difficult for people who follow this “night owl” schedule to obtain adequate sleep if they have obligations like a job or school that require them to get up early in the morning. Low doses of melatonin administered before night have been shown in studies to assist persons with DSWPD to move their sleep cycle forward. When a person travels across numerous time zones quickly, such as on an intercontinental flight, their body’s internal clock gets misaligned with the local day-night cycle, resulting in jet lag. Melatonin supplements may assist to reset the sleep-wake cycle and enhance sleep in persons with jet lag.
  • In children – Melatonin has been shown in several research to help children with sleeping problems fall asleep more quickly. Melatonin may be useful as a short-term tool to help children shift to a healthier sleep pattern and establish excellent sleep habits, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). 

What other natural supplements help induce sleep?

Consider trying the following natural sleep-promoting supplements if you need a little additional help getting a good night’s sleep.

  • Valerian root- In the United States and Europe, Valerian root is one of the most regularly used sleep-promoting herbal supplements. According to randomised controlled trials, menopausal and postmenopausal women’s sleep quality and sleep disorder symptoms improved after taking valerian. In two previous research studies, it was also suggested that taking 300–900 mg of valerian shortly before bedtime could improve self-reported sleep quality.
  • Magnesium- Magnesium is a mineral that is crucial for brain function and heart health. It is involved in hundreds of activities in the human body. Magnesium may also aid in the relaxation of the mind and body, making it simpler to fall asleep. Magnesium’s soothing impact may be due in part to its capacity to modulate melatonin production, according to research. Magnesium also appears to boost levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a relaxing neurotransmitter.
  • Lavender– The relaxing scent of lavender is thought to aid sleep. In fact, according to multiple studies, simply smelling lavender oil before bedtime may be enough to improve sleep quality. This effect appears to be especially powerful in people with mild insomnia, particularly women and young people. Lavender aromatherapy is also beneficial at improving sleep disturbance symptoms in older people with dementia, according to a small study.
  • Passionflower- Passionflower, commonly known as Maypop or Passiflora incarnata, is a popular herbal insomnia cure. Animal studies have shown that passionflower can help you sleep better. The effects on humans, however, appear to be dependent on the type ingested. People with insomnia who took passionflower extract for two weeks exhibited significant improvements in some sleep indices when compared to a placebo group, according to a recent study.

Final Thoughts:

Do you have trouble getting asleep, waking up frequently and staying awake, feeling fatigued when you wake up or sleeping during the day? Examine your mental state, your surroundings, and your everyday activities to see if there is anything that may be improved. Sleep deprivation has been related to an increased risk of developing certain diseases and medical disorders. Because patients are awake, doctors may miss sleep disorders during typical office visits. Therefore, if you believe you may have a sleep disorder, you should consult your doctor. Adults who do not get enough sleep each night should improve their lifestyle and sleep patterns in order to get the seven to nine hours of sleep they require.

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