Good sleep often equals a healthy body. It represents a pillar of a quality lifestyle and an inevitable factor in our mental and physical health.
Sleep affects almost every part of your body – the cognitive processes, physical activity, and quality of life in general. You have probably been told to sleep well before an exam to ace it. Well, it is true! That exam can give you an enormous advantage later, primarily because of being well-rested.
As previously mentioned, being asleep affects numerous things; the list could go on and on, but let’s focus on the key ones. I will be your sleep counselor today, so as the Aerosmith would say, let’s “Dream on” and discover new things about sleep.
Improved Mental Function
In 2018 research by CDC, or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s clearly stated that sleep is an imminent factor in mental function.
“People with inadequate sleep had nearly a threefold increased odds of frequent mental distress compared with those with adequate sleep, and this finding was significant. Participants who were divorced/separated/widowed had twice the odds of frequent mental distress compared with study participants who were married.”
Sleep also helps our mind relax and recover from a hard day. It’s not something unknown. But did you know that your brain realises a handful of stress hormones when it’s sleep deprived?
An all-nighter sometimes seems the right thing to do, but is it really that helpful? It’s undoubtedly a bad thing – you will most likely be wasting your time since you won’t memorize a lot… It’s reality, and you should be careful when doing so.
Don't get me wrong – an all-nighter is good for someone, but once, no one can be sleep-deprived every other night.
Immune System Function
You’ve all heard of the immune system – a complex group of responses to various diseases. It is highly affected by everything. During dozing, your body produces cytokines – proteins that direct immune cells to fight inflammation.
According to research, sleep deprivation also causes your body to produce more white blood cells, the same reaction that occurs when your body is under a lot of stress. Diseases like heart disease are linked to that immune system imbalance.
Sleep Conditions That Can Hurt Your Health
When your airway frequently becomes obstructed while you sleep, it results in brief breathing pauses, known as sleep apnea. Certain medical conditions, such as obesity and heart disease, might contribute to that condition.
The amount of oxygen your body receives while you are asleep is affected by sleep apnea, which raises your chance of developing several illnesses like high blood pressure, heart attacks, and stroke.
Insomnia describes problems getting to sleep, remaining asleep, or both. Adults may develop short-term insomnia up to 1 in 2 times and long-term insomnia up to 1 in 10 times. Heart diseases and excessive blood pressure are connected to this condition, so be careful and always seek help!
How Long Can Humans Survive Without Sleep?
We mentioned the importance of being asleep, but how much time can pass until we start feeling the side effects of sleep deprivation? Let’s find out!
The most prolonged time a person has been awake is 11 days, 25 minutes. Randy Gardner, a 17-year-old American, established the world record in 1963.
It is commonly known that sleep deprivation has negative consequences. Symptoms of sleep deprivation include anger, a delay in decision-making, and cognitive rigidity, in which a person can only think about a problem in one specific manner. Other adverse effects are motivation loss, elevated blood pressure, paranoia, memory problems, mood swings, vision troubles, hallucinations, and speech difficulties.
William Dement reviewed Gardner's medical history and found that many of these adverse effects, such as a decline in his cognitive and sensory capacities, were present in Gardner. Although he didn't use any stimulant medicines to stay up, he did have people about him to keep him from dozing off.
Gardner had been awake for 264 hours and 25 minutes when the experiment ended.
How To Get a Better Sleep?
There is a minimum time someone should be asleep to function well: new-borns (12-18 hours), infants (14-15 hours), toddlers (12-14 hours), pre-schoolers (11-13 hours), school-age children (10-11 hours), teens (8.5-9.25 hours), adults (7-9 hours), elderly (5-7 hours).
With such a demanding time minimum, we must take the best of that time. Let’s look for advice on how to make it worth it!
- Stick to a sleep schedule
Including weekends, go to bed and rise at the same hour every day. Consistency strengthens the sleep-wake cycle in your body.
After settling down for around 20 minutes, if you still can't fall asleep, get out of bed, and relax. Read a book or play some relaxing music. When you are exhausted, go back to bed. Repeat as necessary but keep your bedtime and wake-up time the same.
2. Create the right environment for sleep
Keep your space cold, quiet, and dark. It could be harder to fall asleep if exposed to light in the evening. Avoid using light-emitting screens for too long when it's close to sleep. To establish a setting appropriate for your requirements, consider using earplugs, a fan, room-darkening curtains, or other gadgets.
Better sleep could be facilitated by relaxing activities like bathing or practicing relaxation before bed.
3. Induce physical activity in your routine
Regular exercise might help you fall asleep better. Avoid exercising too soon before going to bed, though.
Daily outside time is also beneficial. Nothing is more relaxing than lying in bed after a long day to get ready for sleep.
You have reached the end of this article. I hope you had fun, learned something new, but also chose to go to bed early – I hope I don’t have to repeat myself about the importance of sleep again now.
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*An article was prepared and written by Balša Kićović, Textual Content Director.