“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” – Thomas Dekker
But what do we generally do?
Toss and turn at night instead of sleeping?
Worry about the petty chores or questioning your career choice?
We have been losing sleep over big and small problems and then wake up in an even worse mood.
So, folks, it is time to switch gears, get some happy vibes – and then get some good and sound sleep.
Let us get some insight into sleep first…
Sleep is a reversible behavioral state of disengagement from the environment and unresponsiveness to the environment. It is also a complex amalgamation of physiological and behavioral processes.
To understand better, let us take an ideal case.
A normal young adult who is sleeping well, and is on a fixed schedule of about 8 hours per night.
In general, no consistent male versus female distinctions has been found in the normal pattern of sleep in young adults.
There are 2 types of sleep REM (Rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-REM).
REM sleep is active sleep and dreaming is typical here.
Non-REM sleep is deep sleep, associated with low muscle activity and minimal psychological activity.
Briefly summarizing, the normal human adult enters sleep through NREM sleep. REM sleep does not occur until 80 minutes or longer thereafter. NREM sleep and REM sleep alternate through the night, with an approximately 90- minute cycle.
The duration and proportion of sleep keep changing with age. While small kids sleep for a smaller duration but more frequently, the frequency decreases, and duration increases, as we grow. Again, when we grow older the duration of sleep reduces, and frequency increases.
If you either reduce or increase the required sleep duration or the continuity of sleep, it is obvious that your mental and physical health will be impacted.
And how will your health be impacted?
Without enough sleep, your life processes will not function normally. It can also dramatically lower your quality of life. We have six life processes and I will take you through each life process and how it is impacted by deprived sleep.
While you sleep, routes are formed between nerve cells (neurons) in your brain that help you grasp and remember all the new information you have learned. If you do not sleep well, your brain does not get enough time to do these activities and becomes exhausted.
Hence, you find it more difficult to concentrate or learn new things. The signals your body sends to the brain are also delayed, which decreases your responsiveness. As your brain is exhausted, your decision-making capability and creativity are also compromised.
Insufficient or irregular sleep makes you more vulnerable to respiratory infections like the common cold and flu. A lot of people also suffer from a nighttime breathing disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can interrupt your sleep and lower sleep quality.
The Mayo clinic has more details on OSA.
Digestive system and Excretory system
Sleep gives your digestive system a chance to rest. It replenishes your energy levels which are essential for your digestive system to function properly. Without an adequate supply of energy, your digestive system will not be able to break down your food as efficiently, leading to a wide range of unpleasant symptoms.
Sleep deprivation sometimes makes you experience a flare-up which makes you more vulnerable to inflammation. Sleep deprivation makes you crave more sugary foods and makes you more predisposed to stress.
This is another risk factor for becoming overweight and obese. Sleep affects the levels of two hormones, leptin, and ghrelin, which control feelings of hunger and fullness. Leptin tells your brain that you have had enough to eat. Without enough sleep, your brain reduces leptin and raises ghrelin, which is an appetite stimulant. The flux of these hormones could explain nighttime snacking or why someone may overeat later in the night.
Deprivation of sleep also shows a rapid decline in kidney function.
Though there is no direct impact of sleep on the fertility hormones, deprived sleep causes stress and exhausts the brain.
This impacts the reproductive hormones and influences ovary size.
Circulatory or cardiovascular system
Blood pressure and heart rates both change during sleep.
The change in the heart rate during the onset of sleep is interesting in that the cardiac rate decreases progressively throughout the night. As the person wakes up in the morning, there is an increase in both heart rate and blood pressure.
If there is a lack of sleep, Blood pressure, and heart rates may be significantly increased, leading to the risk of a heart attack.
Apart from the above issues
Sleep deprivation also causes your body to release less insulin after you eat, thus reducing tolerance for glucose and is associated with insulin resistance. These disruptions can lead to diabetes mellitus and obesity.
Now that you know the problems arising from deprived sleep, you should think of the remedies. The best treatment is to get an adequate amount and undisturbed sleep, typically 7 to 8 hours each night.
Easier said than done?
If you think it is difficult, you will find it difficult.
Most of you can fix this problem with small remedial measures. I will help you to fix some , and here are some tips.
In the meantime, let us try to get some sleep 🙂