Saturday, 14 June 2014

What tax professionals should know to take care of themselves

Why proper sleep is required? (Science behind its answers)

Introduction: Have you ever tried to think about Human Anatomy and its functioning? You know each organ of the body needs a specialist to deal with the ailments pertaining to each of the organ. We have eye doctor, Ear-Nose-Throat Specialists, heart specialists, bone specialist, child specialist, gynecologist, and the list goes on. No surprise and exaggeration, if I say that the brain which controls all the functions of the body is as complex as the universe. The functioning and mysteries in the subject of brain science is as mystifying as the universe. The subject of science is continuously under exploration and to everyone’s amusement, we get to hear some or the other new research about brain science and neuroscience. (Thanks to the scientists working on it day and night tirelessly. Grateful to them for helping the humanity discover its true potential). 
Anyways, lets start the journey.

Disclaimer: As all Chartered Accountants generally starts their reports, I will start by saying that the contents of the chapter are created and presented based on Various scientific researches carried out by various psychologists, brain scientists and neurologists. I have tried to correlate the principles I have learned from the research reports to the situations of Students.
(especially CA students, lol, because I have gone through the pain and learned many of these lessons the hard way, I don’t want you to waste important time of your life to learn those lessons the hard way. I will make that time available to you to make better mistakes. Lol.) Am 99% sure, these lessons will be of immense help in all walks of life. But currently, these lessons are presented in such a way that it suits the immediate requirements of CA students. (most of them will be useful for all the professional exams).

Lets start with first topic:
Why adequate sleep is important:
Summary from the TED talk of Mr. Russell Grant Foster, a British professor of neuroscience, currently based at Brasenose College at the University of Oxford. He studies the sleep cycles of the brain. And he asks: What do we know about sleep? Not a lot, for something we do with one-third of our lives. In this talk, Foster shares three popular theories about why we sleep, busts some myths about how much sleep we need at different ages -- and hints at some bold new uses of sleep as a predictor of mental health.

What is adequate sleep?
Many scientists agrees that 8 hours is quite sufficient and varies from 6.5 hours to 8 hours from person to person. He also mentioned that teenagers needs 9 hours of sleep. Normally, an average person spends 36% of time sleeping. If you are 90 in age, 32 years will have been spent entirely asleep.

Why study of Sleep is Important?
We spend approx. 36% of our life sleeping, so naturally, it makes perfect sense to study what happens during sleep and how it really affects our life, i.e. the other 64% of our life when we actually perform our daily duties and work.

Why do we sleep?
There are dozens of different ideas about why we sleep. We are discussing only the three major concepts.
1. Restoration Process – During the hours when we are awake, we burn up energy, cell and much more. Many kinds of genes are observed to be turned on only during the sleep and those genes are associated with restoration and metabolic pathways. (Meaning of metabolic process: This includes processes for cell growth, reproduction, response to environment, survival mechanisms, sustenance, and maintenance of cell structure and integrity. It is made up of two categories: catabolism and anabolism.) So, scientifically proved that there are evidences of the concept of restoration.
2. Energy Conservation – As per the latest researches, it has been discovered that we save 135 calories while asleep. (On an average we require around 2200 to 2700 calories.) So, to conclude, only a little energy is saved because of sleep. And the concept doesn’t stand true as expected.
3.  Brain processing and memory consolidation: After experiments, a conclusion was arrived that if you deprive someone of sleep when that person is trying to learn new tasks, the ability to learn that task is weakened greatly. Memory consolidation means that whatever we have learned is properly organized in the brain during sleep. So sleep plays vital role in retention of learning and memory consolidation. (This means that while studying variety of subjects and variety of new things in CA curriculum, we desperately require adequate sleep, and for better retention of learning and better memory functioning, adequate sleep is of prime importance).  It’s not just about learning and memory. What's turned out to be really exciting is that our ability to come up with novel solutions to complex problems is hugely enhanced by a night of sleep. In fact, it's been estimated to give us a threefold advantage. (1) Sleeping at night enhances our creativity. (2) And the brain cells and neural connections that has been established during the day time is enhanced, linked and strengthened during the sleep. At the same time, the less important neural connections we had during the day time fades away, so that other parts can function optimally. The most important thing is that brain doesn’t stop functioning while we are asleep. In fact, some areas of the brain are more active during the sleep state than the wake state.

Is sleepiness an illness?
No, He says feeling sleepiness during the day is not illness. It just says that your body clock is asking for sleep for some vital functions to happen in your body. If you don’t allow, it will result in microsleeps (3-5 seconds sleep). That’s not illness. Sleep is a natural process inevitable for the body. Unknowingly by treating sleep as our enemy, we are endangering ourselves in greater problems. This needs mention here because most of the people think of sleep and oversleep problems as illness that needs cure (of course, if you are unable to sleep, that is a big problem that needs cure).

Why people think of Sleep as Illness or waste of time?
Because, we think that we don’t do any activities in that particular time of sleep. But actually speaking, sleep is incredible part of our biology.

What about current situations in the world?
Normally, a human being needs at least eight hours of sleep, while we take on an average 6 to 7 hours of sleep, which is not sufficient for human body and its vital functions. For teenagers, the scenario is worse, they require at least 9 hours of sleep for full brain performance, but most of the times teenagers sleeps even lesser than 6 hours most of the time. It’s simply not enough. 

What about Aged people?
It is a myth to assume that aged people requires lesser sleep. That’s a complete myth. Its true that aged people cannot sleep at a stretch for longer period of time. For this reason, people start assuming that aged people require less sleep.

What are the results of taking lesser sleep than required?
The brain indulges itself into microsleeps, this involuntarily falling asleep and you have no control over it. Its not just embarrassing but can be deadly. It's been estimated that 31 percent of drivers will fall asleep while driving at least once in their life. In U.S., the statistics are pretty astonishing, 100,000 accidents each year on the freeway have been associated with tiredness, loss of vigilance, and falling asleep. Investigations behind Chernobyl blast and mishap of Challenger Space Shuttle show that they were caused by poor judgment as a result of extended shift work and loss of vigilance and tiredness. So when you're tired, and you lack sleep, you have poor memory, you have poor creativity, you have increased impulsiveness, and you have overall poor judgment. So, to conclude, we should take proper sleep.

Lack of Sleep and Addictions:
If you are a tired brain, the brain will need things to wake it up. So it can ask for drugs, stimulants, etc. Caffeine represents the stimulant of choice across much of the Western world (Now in most of the part of Asian world also). Most of the time, the day time is fueled by caffeine, and if you're a really naughty tired brain, you may even resort to hazardous drugs and narcotic substances.
And the really exciting news is that mental illness and sleep are not simply associated but they are physically linked within the brain. The neural networks that prompt you to normal sleep, give you normal sleep, and those that give you normal mental health are overlapping.

Conclusion Remarks:
Jim Butcher, the fantasy writer, said, "Sleep is God. Go worship." And I can only recommend that you do the same. 


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