We need a good night’s sleep to keep both our minds and bodies healthy. Many of us are busy with our daily lives, so we don’t always pay attention to making sure we get enough sleep every night. If you look at our ancestors, you’ll see that they always made sure to get a good night’s sleep. This kept their minds sharp and their bodies in good shape. But work patterns have changed a lot in the past few decades, and as a result, so have sleep patterns. In the last few years, both the quality of sleep and the length of sleep have gotten much worse.
When we don’t get enough sleep at night, we have a medical condition called sleep deprivation. A condition called sleep deficiency is the same as this one. Sleep deficiency is a broad term that includes not getting enough sleep, sleeping at the wrong times of the day, getting bad quality sleep, or having a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnoea that makes it hard to sleep normally.
How sleep works and why
Before we talk about how important sleep is and what happens when you don’t get enough, it’s important to know that there are two types of sleep patterns. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep are the names for these two types of sleep.
Non-REM sleep is quite a deep sleep and is sometimes called slow-wave sleep. On the other hand, when you are in REM sleep, you dream. Both REM and NREM sleep come and go, and most nights there are between 3 and 5 cycles of each.
Why do we sleep?
Sleep is a pretty easy thing to understand. There is something called a “body clock” inside of us that controls when we are awake and when our bodies need to rest. It usually does the same thing over the course of 24 hours. The name for this is circadian rhythm.
When we wake up in the morning, a chemical called adenosine slowly starts to rise in the brain. This chemical is what makes the brain feel like it needs to stop working and take a break.
In other words, when we wake up, adenosine levels start to rise, and when we go to sleep, adenosine levels start to fall.
Besides adenosine, there are other things that make our minds react. For example, when it gets light outside, the mind wakes up and the sleep cycle is over. Our body clocks have a lot to do with this.
Melatonin is a hormone that the body makes and sends out into the blood. At night, the body starts to make more melatonin, which helps the brain shut down and lets the body sleep. People who have travelled a long way and are having trouble sleeping because of jet lag can often use melatonin to help them fall asleep.
I’ve written in other posts on this blog about how mobile devices and the artificial light that they give off can change the way people sleep. It is always best to turn off all mobile devices at least an hour before going to bed. This gives the brain a chance to rest a bit and gives these sleep factors a chance to work.
When a person falls asleep, their whole body relaxes. All of the muscles loosen up, and the whole body goes limp. Putting it simply, if you think of the body as an engine, sleeping is like turning off the engine.
People of different ages have different times set in their bodies. For example, babies and young children tend to fall asleep a lot earlier and can sleep for a lot longer. Teenagers can stay awake for a long time even if they don’t get much sleep. As we get older, our work schedules and personal lives have a big impact on how we sleep.
Sleeping is good for your health.
Some people say that sleep is just as important as working out every day. A good night’s sleep can refresh your mind and body, make you more productive, and get you ready for the next day. There are many good things about sleep, and this article will list some of them.
Helps you remember
It has been found that a good night’s sleep helps memory a lot. When we sleep at night, the brain starts to make new connections between nerve cells. This means that new connections are made between nerve fibres, which are basically memories.
Several clinical trials have shown that not getting enough sleep can affect how well you do your job, how you feel and act, your ability to make decisions, and even simple things like driving. In fact, not getting enough sleep has caused many car accidents and deaths. People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get depressed and kill themselves.
Keeps the heart healthy
Heart disease is often caused by high blood pressure, diabetes, and hardening of the arteries, which are all linked to each other. All of these risk factors have been shown to be affected by sleep.
People who don’t get enough sleep at night are more likely to gain weight. In one clinical study done on teenagers, it was found that the chances of gaining weight went up by a lot for every hour of sleep that was lost. This is because the way you sleep has a big effect on certain hormones that control hunger and fullness.
When you don’t get enough sleep, a hormone called ghrelin builds up in your body. This hormone makes people feel hungry and makes them want to eat small meals often to stay full. At the same time, the amount of a hormone called leptin drops by a lot. This means that people aren’t feeling full, so they keep snacking without thinking.
Poor sleep can affect diabetes
There also seems to be a link between how people with diabetes sleep and how well they control their blood sugar. As you probably already know, when you eat, your pancreas releases insulin. After digestion, glucose is made and goes into the bloodstream. Insulin grabs glucose and sends it to all the important organs in the body, giving them energy. The amount of insulin made by the pancreas is affected by how much sleep a person gets. It also changes the quality of the insulin that’s made.
If you don’t get enough sleep, your blood sugar levels could change in a big way. This could affect how well you manage your diabetes.
Good sleep makes you healthier.
Our immune system is the way our bodies fight off infections. It is important to have a healthy immune system so that we can fight off any viruses or bacteria that try to get into our bodies.
Poor sleep habits have been shown to affect the immune system and how immune cells respond to harmful substances. If you get enough sleep at night, your immune system stays strong, which keeps your body healthy.
How much sleep do we need?
All adults over 18 need about 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep every night, on average. Teens between the ages of 13 and 18 need up to 10 hours of sleep. Children under the age of 12 need between 9 and 12 hours of sleep each day.
There are a lot of people who don’t get enough sleep every night. Our bodies seem to have a hidden calculator that keeps track of how much sleep we haven’t gotten over a certain time period. This amount of lost sleep is called “sleep debt.”
Sleep debt is made up by dozing off during waking hours. For example, all your body needs to sleep is a short nap in the afternoon after lunch or on the way to work in a taxi.
So, it is very important that you try your best to get enough sleep every night.
Improving your sleep
It’s not hard to improve the quality of your sleep and lengthen the time you spend in deep sleep. Some of the best ways to get better sleep are shown in the table below.
- Set your sleep and waking hours. Make sure you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every night and every morning. Try not to change your plans or have a “lie-in” on the weekends.
- Make sure you turn off all of your electronic devices at least an hour before bed. The artificial blue light from these devices can trick the brain into thinking it is still daytime, making it hard to fall asleep.
- Don’t smoke or drink anything with caffeine, like coffee or soda, for a few hours before bed. The caffeine in these drinks can keep your brain going for at least eight hours, making it hard for you to fall asleep. In fact, some people who drink a strong cup of coffee in the evening have trouble falling asleep at night.
- Make sure it’s dark and quiet in the room. A small bed lamp isn’t a bad idea, but it might be hard for some people to see in this light. The best place to get a good night’s sleep is in a room that is very dark and quiet.
- Make sure you get regular exercise. But don’t work out late at night because the endorphins you get from working out can keep your mind awake. Instead, try to work out either first thing in the morning or early in the evening.
- At night, read a good book. Reading can help calm the mind and make it easier to fall asleep.
- A hot bath can sometimes help you fall asleep at night if you are having trouble. This calms the body and can cause hormones to be released that can help you sleep.
It’s very important to get a good night’s sleep. It gives your body and mind a boost, helps you remember things and focus, and keeps your heart healthy. Every night, make sure you get the right amount of sleep.