What is a good night’s sleep?

Have you ever seen a baby take a nap? Isn’t it the most satisfying thing to see? Maybe that is why people say, ‘slept like a baby’ and not like an ‘adult

So, what defines a good night’s sleep? Let us break down the major factors to assess whether you had a good night’s sleep, for you to garner a better understanding of the subject.

Do you feel fresh when you wake up?

Usually, it will take just a few seconds after you wake up, to know whether you slept well, or not. Feeling worn out or too tired to get out of bed, are the first indicators that you did not sleep well.

Indicators of good sleep

A complete sleep rejuvenates your mind and body. While you are sleeping, the body undergoes a healing process, as growth hormones are secreted. This in turn, promotes tissue growth and repair. This helps the body to recover from the wear and tear caused from activities during the entire day, and make you feel energized, for the next day.

Indicators of bad sleep

Snoring: It is one factor that not only indicates bad or disturbed sleep, but also can give rise to other factors that signify unrestful sleep, like acid reflux and daytime sleepiness.

Acid reflux/heartburn: Lack of sleep can cause the acid in your stomach to move upward, due to improper functioning of the esophageal sphincter valve between stomach and esophagus. This causes the feeling heartburn or what is commonly known as acidity.

Headache: If you miss on your REM sleep, it can cause bad morning headaches.

Mood swings: Lack of sleep will keep you restless and irritable throughout the day. This affects your mood, making you more susceptible to anger and agitation.

Throat ache: It is a condition that can arise due to consecutive episodes of bad sleep. Research suggests that sleep deprivation is connected to a vulnerability to cold.1 It is also stated that proper sleep pattern provides better resistance against bacteria and viruses.

Body ache: Widespread pain in joints and muscles can be a result of poor night’s sleep. This has been proved in a study done for Arthritis and Rheumatology.2

Now that we know whether we actually had a good sleep or not, it is good to know about some sleep disorders as well.


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Sleep Revitalizes your Mind, Body, & Heart

The body goes under many transformations, while it is in the state of rest during sleep. There are many essential functions that take place in the body such as tissue repair, memory and energy restoration, release of essential hormones, muscle relaxation, and others. While you are asleep, the brain releases indispensable hormones that promote tissue growth. This process helps your body rejuvenate from the daily hustle bustle. Moreover, tissue growth aids in the recovery from wounds or cuts. Sunita Kumar, Co-Director, Centre for Sleep Disorders, Loyola University Medical Centre, aptly remarks that during sleep the body produces more white blood cells, to fight countless bacteria and viruses1. The heart rate also registers a dip during sleep, which according to Ms. Kumar, strengthens the heart as it is at rest with lowered activity. Moreover, a good night’s sleep also reduces the chances of getting afflicted with heart diseases.

Good Sleep = Sharp Memory

Sleep is a time, when becomes sharp and strong. Sleep quantity and quality play a fundamental role in determining what one remembers and what one doesnt. Therefore, development of long-term memory (LTM) from short-term memory (STM) happens during sleep.  Scientific researches state that the brain follows a different mechanism for storing memories through the hippocampus and neo-cortex areas. Hippocampus helps you to remember your life experiences (childhood memories), while the neo-cortex is responsible for remembering the concepts you learn (name of a color). Communications and sync between the two, helps in learning new data and updating old ones.

Sleep Steers Hormonal Hunger

Sleep not only affects your energy levels and mental functions, but also regulates your body weight. Improper sleep is related to the increasing cases of obesity, worldwide2. Many hormones which regulate the feeling of hunger (ghrelin) and signal the feeling of being full (leptin), are all influenced by the quality of your sleep.  Leptin: This is also known as satiety hormone, which is produced by the fat cells of the body. It prevents overeating by sending signals to the brain that the body does not require more food, as there is enough to fuel the body.  Ghrelin: This hunger hormone is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, which signifies the body that there is need for food. This hormone rises in the body, when you feel hungry and decreases when you have consumed some food.  Studies show that people who have disrupted patterns of sleep - have larger appetite, because of higher ghrelin secretion and lowered secretion of leptin. This imbalance in the secretion of these hormones is a result of improper sleep patterns3.