Sleep needs differ from one person to another, depending on age, lifestyle, activities, etc. But for adults, it is generally advisable to sleep 8 hours a night to stay healthy and perform well during the day. But because of the long hours of work and bad habits, many of us sacrifice their sleep to achieve maximum tasks.
Some people believe that they can function normally even if they sleep less than others. They often see themselves as superior to the “faint of heart” people that need to sleep longer to be operational. But what they ignore is that by depriving the body of those moments when it recharges its batteries, they increase their risk of suffering from health problems and cognitive functions.
Consequences of sleep deprivation
1 – Slowed reaction time
When a person lacks sleep, the time it takes to respond to a stimulus or to respond to a potential danger is longer than normal. This is the case of drivers and workers who are deprived of sleep for a long time and who see their cognitive performance decline.
A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has made a comparison between the effect of lack of sleep and the one related to the consumption of alcohol on cognitive performance of 39 people between 30 and 50 years. The results of some tests have shown that people who were awake for 17-19 hours had a reaction 50% slower than those who had 1g /L alcohol in the blood.
2 – Short and long term decline in cognitive performance
One sleepless night could affect your ability to analyze information and to respond. An experiment conducted by the University of Pennsylvania on mice that have suffered prolonged periods of wakefulness showed that they had suffered damage of the nerve cells in the locus coeruleus, part of the brain responsible for vigilance.
Research conducted on the impact of sleep deprivation among doctors on duty also showed that those who have worked for 24 consecutive hours had a higher risk of error by 400%, with an increase of 73% of injuries due to improper handling of the scalpel and injection needles.
3 – Memory and learning ability
During the sleep cycles, our brain is prepared to learn and assimilate new information and consolidate the memory. When these cycles are disrupted, it causes a memory deficit and difficulty remembering what has been learned recently. In addition, a study by the University of Rochester, US has shown that insufficient sleep significantly increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This is because our brain performs a self-detoxification and eliminates waste during sleep, particularly beta-amyloid proteins that play an important role in causing the disease.
4 – Emotions boil
Fatigue from sleep disorders puts the mind to the test and nerves on edge. Indeed, lack of sleep affects the functioning of the amygdala and prefrontal cortex that govern our emotions and act as a brake on their rampage.
5 – Decreased immune function and impaired health status
Insufficient sleep has the same effect on the immune system as stress or different diseases. By not having a long resting period that allows the body to regulate its production of hormones and control the various functions of its organs, it becomes more susceptible to various disorders such as excessive weight gain, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc. Moreover, a study conducted by the University of Chicago shows that each hour of deprived sleep increases the risk of hypertension by about 37%.
To help you regulate the sleep and prevent health problems that may arise from repetitive insomnia, here are some tips to follow.
How to promote sleep and avoid causes of insomnia?
1 – Regulate your biological clock
To keep pace with natural sleep, it is important to preserve the balance of body’s internal biological clock. By exposure to the evening light, the production of the sleep hormone (melatonin) by the pineal gland is inhibited. On the contrary, exposure to dark increases the secretion of this hormone. This is why it is advisable to reduce the use of tablets and other Smartphones including blue light that delays the body’s clock and stimulates insomnia. Moreover, a study conducted by researchers from the University of Stuttgart and Basel confirmed this by showing that the screens excited the brain and prolonged its awakening by slowing the secretion of melatonin.
2 – Do not overheat the bedroom
According to health experts, the ideal temperature for a bedroom is between 64 and 68 ° F. This is due to the need of the body to cool to a few tenths of a degree to get ready to sleep. Besides, this is why it is advisable to take a warm bath an hour before going to bed. By increasing the heat of the body, the bath promotes sweating which, after a while result in lower body temperature.
3 – Make a sleep environment
To sleep better and avoid excitation sources, it is advisable to paint the walls of your bedroom with soft colors like pastel and avoid hanging posters or flashing lights that may constantly draw your attention and keep you from relaxing. In addition, the room should be dark as much as possible to allow your body clock to trigger the secretion of melatonin. You should also turn off all appliances that can generate a magnetic field because it disrupts the functioning of the pineal gland responsible for the sleep hormone. Ideally, no TV, computer, tablet or smartphone in the bedroom.
4 – Treat diseases or disorders causing insomnia
Among the most recurrent causes of nighttime awakenings is the sleep apnea. It is characterized by an airway obstruction and therefore this interruption of breathing typically lasts 10 seconds but can reach up to 30 seconds in some people. It occurs most often in the elderly, overweight or those who snore. These pauses in breathing can occur 5 to 30 times per hour, and wake the person who finds it hard to sleep afterwards. It is important to treat the apnea in order to sleep quietly.