Did you know your body needs six to 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night? Otherwise, you will wake up the next morning feeling tired and irritable

I know sleep is a subject that probably makes you yawn! But let me tell you, stress, work tension, partying into the wee hours, television, these are all factors that deprive you of a good night's rest. At times, you have to go with the flow, no question. If you are up finishing an assignment for a meeting the next day, you will end up losing some sleep. But if you make late nights a habit, and become chronically sleep deprived, and you're in for serious trouble.

Your body needs anything from 6 to 10 hours of sleep every night, based on your individual need. But regardless of how much sleep you need, if you sleep late every night, it's very hard for your body clock to adjust. So instead of waking up refreshed after a good night's rest, you end up tossing and turning all night and, as a result, you feel like a wreck the next morning. This problem is even more acute when you have to get up early for work or for school or college.

If your sleep pattern is erratic, with late nights and inadequate sleeping time, your energy levels will dip and you may feel irritable and tired.

Sleep is a time when your body repairs and regenerates itself. During sleep, your muscles and joints have a chance to recover from constant use, and your heart rate slows down to a resting state. At the same time, your body is releasing growth hormones, even as you are fast asleep.

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Fit fact

The growth hormone, GH, is mostly released during sleep. It is secreted all through puberty, coming in carefully time-tabled bursts that determine your growth pattern.

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During sleep, it's not just your body, your brain is busy too! Studies show that most of the brain is just as active during sleep as it is in waking hours, using the uninterrupted time to reorganise and store the constant stream of information that it receives every day. Your sleep pattern alternates between dreamless sleep, deep sleep, or dreaming while you sleep. Dreams are the brain's method of sorting out and storing information gathered during the day.

All this hectic brain activity is what makes you refreshed and energised for the next day. So, unless you want to end up dull, forgetful, tired, and cranky, make sure you hit your bed at the right time and wake up to a “Good morning”!

How do you get a good night's sleep?

* Avoid over-indulging in substances that interfere with sleep, such as caffeine found in coffee, tea, colas, chocolate.

* Avoid smoking and restrict alcohol intake.

* Take time to relax your mind and body before sleeping. Read a book, listen to soothing music or use aromatherapy oils in a bath.

* Get into the habit of going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day so that the body gets into a correct sleep pattern.

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While you were sleeping

“ …I also make sure I get plenty of sleep, which is really important for a glowing skin…'' a former Miss India.

It's only when you sleep that your body regenerates and repairs skin cells. So a good night's sleep is essential to make your skin glow and your eyes shine. Most important, adequate sleep helps you keep away those dreaded dark circles, a dead giveaway that shows you haven't got your beauty sleep!

The writer is a certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist.

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