The science behind sleep and its impact on our health
Almost one-third or one-quarter of a person’s life is spent sleeping. But what precisely takes place while you sleep?
Most people thought that while you were sleeping, your body and brain were passively resting.
However, it turns out that the brain performs a variety of vital functions during sleep that are directly related to one’s quality of life.
Going without the required 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night results in more than just grogginess and irritability.
Lack of sleep does have long-term impacts.
It reduces your mental resources and seriously affect your physical health negatively.
Poor sleep has been linked scientifically to a variety of health disorders, including immune system deterioration and weight gain.
Here is a glance into the significant (and frequently unexpected) findings made by sleep scientists, as well as what they are still striving to learn about the science of sleep.
There are two processes that helps regulate sleep:
- Circadian rhythms and
- Sleep drive.
Circadian rhythms: The biological clock that regulates circadian rhythms is housed in the brain.
The main function of this clock is that it responds to light cues by increasing melatonin production at night and turning it off when it detects light.
Total blindness makes it difficult for some people to fall asleep because they are unable to recognize and react to these light cues.
Sleep drive: The need for sleep, like the need for food, is a major factor in sleep drive.
Your need for sleep gets high during the day, and at a point, you just can’t help but go to bed. A significant distinction between hunger and drive.
Even though your body can’t make you eat when you’re hungry, it can put you to sleep when you’re exhausted. Even if you’re in a meeting or behind the wheel of a car.
When you’re exhausted, your body is even able to engage in microsleep episodes of one or two seconds while your eyes are open.
Napping for more than 30 minutes during the day can disrupt your night’s sleep by decreasing your body’s sleep drive.
Why You Need Sleep
The fact that sleep has a substantial impact on brain function won’t come as a surprise to you if you’ve ever felt confused after a restless night.
First, the brain’s capacity to adjust to input depends on getting a sufficient quantity of sleep.
Too little sleep makes it difficult for us to digest what we’ve learnt during the day and makes it more difficult for us to recall it afterwards.
Additionally, it’s thought that sleep may facilitate the elimination of waste materials from brain cells, which happens less effectively when the brain is awake.
Importance of sleep to some of the body systems
Your immune system produces antibodies and cytokines, which are molecules that protects and fights infections, while you’re sleeping.
These compounds help your body fight against antigens like viruses and bacteria.
Lack of sleep stops your immune system from functioning.
Sleep deprivation can affect your body’s ability to fight off intruders and also how quickly you recover from illnesses.
Processes that maintain the health of your heart and blood vessels, such as those that impact your blood sugar, blood pressure, and swelling patterns, are all impacted by sleep. Sleep is essential for your body’s capacity to heal and maintain the heart and blood vessels.
Your sleep quality is necessary for hormone production. You must get at least three hours of unbroken sleep each night to produce testosterone; waking up frequently during the night may interfere with this process.
Growth hormone synthesis may also be affected by this disruption, especially in young children and teenagers.
In addition to other growth-related activities, these hormones help body’s ability to increase muscle mass and in repairing cells and tissues.
Health risks from lack of sleep
- Symptoms of depression
- High blood pressure
- Low sex drive
- Mood changes
- Weight gain
- Risk of heart disease
- Memory issues
- Migraines worsen
- The trouble with thinking and concentration
- Immunity is compromised, increasing the likelihood of illness and infection.
Sleep equally plays a vital role in body metabolism.. A somewhat healthy individual may develop prediabetes after just one night of missing sleep. There are numerous significant links between sleep and health.
It is usually difficult to get a good night’s sleep if you have sleeping disorders. They might also make you easily fall victim to the bodily consequences of sleep deprivation listed above.
The following are some of the common types of sleeping disorders:
- obstructive sleep apnea
- restless leg syndrome
- circadian rhythm disorders
If you have a sleep issue, you may be prescribed medication or a device to keep your airway open at night (for obstructive sleep apnea) to assist treat the condition and enable you to consistently receive better quality sleep.
Prevention of sleeping disorders
Make sure you sleep well as getting enough sleep will help you avoid sleep deprivation. Follow the requirements for your age group, which for people ages 18 to 64 is 7 to 9 hours.
Ways you can recover from sleep deprivation
- Limiting (or eliminating) midday naps • Avoiding caffeine after noon or at least several hours before bedtime • Going to bed at the same time every night
- Getting up at the same time each day.
- Respecting your bedtime commitment on weekends and during holidays.
- Unwinding for an hour before bed by reading, practicing meditation, or taking a bath
- Refraining from consuming large meals just before bedtime
- Avoiding using electronics immediately before bedtime
- Regular exercise, but not in the late evening or right before bed.
- Limiting alcohol consumption.
Many of the hours that researchers are awake are spent trying to learn more about these processes and how they impact both physical and mental health.
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