Thirty Three Percent

Here’s an investment scenario :

  1. You’re given 100 bucks at the start of the day.

  2. You must spend 33, and they won’t fetch any tangible returns.

  3. You can spend the rest 67, and get rewarded for your decisions and risk.

  4. The twist is, how you spend the 33, governs the returns you make out of the rest 67.

  5. Question is: “Would you plan and optimize your spend of 33?”


Now think about it, you have 24 hours every day, and you sleep for roughly 8 hours(33%).

Your sleep determines your waking productivity.

Let me re-ask “Would you plan and optimize your spend of 33?”

During the recent interviews, all the experts talked about the importance of sleep, so we tried to dig a little deep.

Scratching the data surface:

  1. The entire humanity spends (almost)33% of their time sleeping.

  2. Only 35% of the population has regular adequate sleep, which leaves 2 out of 3 people having issues with sleep. [1]

Do you get a picture of the seriousness of the matter?

In this article, we bring insights from Dr. Shalini Gamre[2] and Dr. Arvind Gautam[3]

Dr. Shalini started her career in finance and has shifted her attention to help people dealing with behavioral, emotional, and mental challenges.

Dr. Arvind Gautam has served the air force psychiatry division for over a decade and currently runs his own specialty clinic, his current focus and mission is to prevent mental disorders and promote mental health literacy in society.

Tell us a little about the science of sleep.

Life is a cycle of wakefulness and sleep, both are equally important. Sleep is the body’s mechanism to repair itself. Just like hunger is the body’s mechanism to strengthen itself. Sleep happens in different phases and must be learned and understood well. Just as one would do to learn what is good to eat.

What are sleep cycles?

There is REM(dreams and fantasies) and the non-REM phase where both body and brain are inactive. Sleep cycles are the various stages in which a person sleeps going from being awake to slightly asleep to the slow-wave mode to the REM mode to coming back to slowly being awake.

Tell us about the circadian cycle and sleep.

Every organism follows a particular pattern of falling asleep and waking up, this occurs every 24 hours considering the stability of mental, physical, and environmental stimuli. This occurrence is known as the circadian cycle.

Rhythm is very important in life. Everyone should work on sleep-wakefulness rhythm. Every psychological disturbance arises from a sleep disorder. As much as possible try to stick to your biological rhythm. The beginning of psychological disorders is to address the sleep rhythm. For instance, Bipolar disorder’s first treatment is the treatment of sleep-wakefulness patterns, which helps in recovery.

Tell us about sleep hygiene.

In the past there were global health issues arising out of infections due to contaminated food and water, one simple measure was to ensure basic hygiene.

There are efforts that need to be taken to maintain a sleep cycle as close as to the natural rhythm. Sunlight is for work and night is for sleep. Too much manipulation with nature can disturb your sleeping pattern.

  • Maintain a similar sleep-wake cycle
  • Avoid exciting music, drama, or news on TV
  • Avoid heavy dinner caffeine or alcohol near bedtime
  • Power down gadgets prior to bed time
  • Ensure balanced nutrition
  • Keep the sleeping area neat, and low-lit
  • If you face issues sleeping read a book or turn on soothing music until you fall asleep
  • If any issue(work, relationship or anything) is bothering you talk to a trusted source
  • Good amount of Sunlight
  • Shorter daytime naps
  • Ensure normal room temperature
  • Fix the bed and pillow to comfortable levels
  • Have enough physical exercise during the day

What happens in the human body during the stages of sleep?

As a person falls asleep and crossing the dozing off stage that last around 5 to 10 minutes in a healthy individual, he/she enters the non-rem stage which lasts for 20 to 30 mins, where the body temperature starts to drop, the heartbeats and muscle movement slowly drop the eyeballs stop moving and the body relaxes completely. The brain functions slow down too and the person moves into the 3rd stage of sleep known as the slow-wave mode which lasts for around 30 to 40 mins. This stage is extremely important for the restoration of body cells, immunity, wear and tear. This is the part when the body is at its lowest movement and temperature.

It is also in this phase that a person may have difficulty waking up. This stage shortens slowly and the person moves to the Rem stage where the body temperature starts picking up, the brain functions start too. While the other muscles of the body remain in relaxed mode, the eyeballs move and the breathing continues. This is when the brain narrates the activities of the last 24 to 48 hours from its memory bank in the form of dreams. Although the eyes are closed the person sleeping can see visuals clearly which he/she sometimes may remember even when woken up. This stage is the longest in the sleep cycle and is critical for cleaning up cognitive, memory, and mental functions.

What are major sleep disorders?

Insomnia, Hypersomnia, Circadian rhythm, Parasomnia, Sleep Apnea are some common issues.

Night tremors, sleepwalking, and sleep paralysis are some of the more serious disorders.

Snoring requires an evaluation especially if the person suffers from obesity.

What are the signs and symptoms shown by people with sleep disorders?

There are various signs and symptoms starting from the inability to sleep to the inability to wake up. Restlessness, anxiety and as the disorder progresses, they may see memory loss, dizziness, hallucinations, etc.

How does one know if it is time to see a therapist for a sleep disorder?

Sleep issues may persist and may lead to long-term anxiety and depression. If the person notices anything that isn’t normal for more than 3 days, despite following basic sleep hygiene which impacts the normal functioning of the person, then try to visit a primary care physician. The doctor may evaluate the situation and will either treat or make a referral.

What are some remedies for common sleep disorders?

Most times the therapist will prescribe medication and counseling to help the person sleep while also evaluate what is causing the disorder.

Why do we dream?

Dr. Segmund Freud pioneered the discipline of dreams and fantasies, but this is an era of biological psychiatry focus is more on them. Coming to dreams, most dreams are Rapid Eye Movements. Nightmares and Sleep terrors need to be taken seriously. I don’t subscribe much to the fact that Dreams are a memory recap of all the events that happened in the past 24 to 48 hours along with the emotions, feelings, and fears associated with those events. They can also be memories from long ago that still remain clearly in the unconscious mind.

How to avoid bad / excessive dreaming?

There could be a hidden psychological issue. Some stressors are deeply hidden in the person’s psyche, analysing the life events and gradually making peace with them can help. Talking to a counselor will help bring out memories and experiences that influence dreaming. Once those issues are resolved and a better lifestyle is achieved, the person will see a change in the dreaming pattern.

What is it that you personally practice on a daily basis to ensure your own emotional health?

Meditation, Journaling, and speaking to a trusted person about my emotions and daily happenings help me express and stops suppression. I follow a very strict fitness regime and also watch my diet which helps.

However, there still may be nights when I won’t sleep the best. Getting stressed about not getting sleep and not sleeping because of it, is more common than any sleep disorder. If I haven’t slept for more than 2 nights well, I take time out to evaluate what is causing the disturbance without ignoring it or worrying too much about it. Taking action most times solves a lot.

Editor’s Note:

Whether it is a billionaire or a beggar, whether a noble laureate or an illiterate, whether sleeping in a castle or on the pavement, the most that a person can carry in is his memory, arising from his/her actions. Sleep is a temporary death - a daily reminder that everything will be left behind.

Live and act so that you can sleep peacefully. Sleep and Rest so that you can live fully.

If you have made it this far, kudos! We put in effort in curating experts for the interview, creating questions that bring out insight, craft answers in a manner that is easy to consume.

Our effort will meet success if you can Remember and Remind yourself that thirty-three percent of your life is spent sleeping - just this fact, and take necessary steps.

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