Despite years of research, scientists still don’t know exactly why we sleep. Although, of course, there are versions – and different ones.
But researchers have no doubts about the fact that the time spent in sleep affects almost all systems of the body. So why do we need sleep, how does it work, and why is it disturbed?
Why You Need Sleep
It has a lot of different functions. During sleep, regenerative processes throughout the body are triggered, important immune processes are activated, the metabolism adjusts. Children grow during sleep because in the first half of the night, in a state of deep sleep, the growth hormone is released. Finally, sleep allows us to forget unnecessary things and resolve internal conflicts.
During sleep, the brain is cleansed of toxins. There are no lymphatic vessels in the brain to flush out large protein molecules, but during slow sleep, spaces in the lymphatic system open up through which the brain sort of showers. This, among other things, helps release proteins that are responsible for the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
What Happens if You Don’t Get Enough Sleep Regularly
Problems With Being Overweight
If a person sleeps less than 6 hours and goes to bed too late because he plays at 22Bet at 2 am, risks of overeating increase. Sleepiness reduces the ability of the brain to control harmful food cravings: if during the day we easily give up candy in favor of apples and kefir, at night the fridge becomes an object of unhealthy interest, and a small snack turns into what knowledgeable people call a “night gluttony”. That this effect doesn’t depend on the reasons for lack of sleep – whether it’s the need to complete the accumulated work or insomnia.
Premature Aging of the Skin
Without proper rest, the body synthesizes more of the stress hormone cortisol, which contributes to the breakdown of collagen fibers in the dermis. Besides, sleep-deprived skin recovers less well from prolonged exposure to the sun, which is known to be one of the main instigators of wrinkles.
Sleep can be compared to the defragmentation of the hard drive on the computer: the less and shorter a night’s rest, the less structured our memories. If normally the brain sorts the received information into important and useless (the latter is subsequently erased in order to use the free memory space for the next day), with chronic lack of sleep one resembles a smartphone with installed too many unnecessary applications – and it freezes now and then, giving error after error.
How Sleep Works
Previously, it was thought that sleep – the opposite of awake. That is, something passive, slow, and inactive. But over time, it has become clear that sleep is just as active and can be deep and fast (REM sleep, dreamy sleep).
If all of our sleep is divided into two parts, a greater percentage of deep sleep will be in the first half of the night, and the second half will be dominated by REM sleep.
How do you distinguish deep sleep from REM sleep? During REM sleep, a person lies motionless with their eyes running because they see dreams. But this is best captured during studies: using sensors that are placed on the person’s head, we see specific electroencephalographic waves during each of the dreams.
REM sleep isn’t divided into separate stages and is considered a single phase. But slow sleep is divided into several stages:
- The process of transition from wakefulness to sleep is accompanied by a repeated feeling of “floating away,” a feeling of “falling,” often interrupted by a sudden startle, which wakes the person up again.
- In the second phase, the person is no longer aware of his or her surroundings, body temperature begins to decrease, but breathing and pulse are still unchanged.
- In the third phase, blood pressure decreases and breathing becomes slow. Muscles are relaxed and blood flow to them increases. Tissue repair and growth occurs and important hormones are produced.
Sleep and Hormones
Hormones in the human body work tirelessly during the day and night, including making sure we sleep well. When it starts to get dark and dusky, the hormone melatonin is released in our body. This hormone gradually plunges us into a drowsy state. However, as soon as melatonin has done its job, other members of the hormonal union are activated. For example, somatotropic hormone (STH), or growth hormone, takes over to repair body tissues.
But STH isn’t the only hormone that works at night: aldosterone and antidiuretic hormone are the guardians of the urinary system. If it weren’t for them, all of mankind would suffer from nocturnal incontinence.
Here we should also mention cortisol, known to many as “the stress hormone”. Its levels drop in the evening, but begin to rise again during the night. When it peaks in the morning, we wake up.
When It’s Worth Going to a Somnologist
The most common sleep disorder that people go to a specialist with is, of course, insomnia. Up to 20-25% of people experience sleep problems from time to time, and about 5-10% have chronic insomnia. Chronic insomnia becomes when a person experiences difficulty falling asleep, waking up at night or waking up early in the morning without being able to fall asleep more than three times a week, and when they lead to impaired daytime functioning.
There are “red flags” that tell you that you need to see a doctor. First, daytime sleepiness (even though you’re on a regimen and getting your sleep quota). Secondly, snoring. Third, blood pressure, which for some reason rises at night and in the morning (and then you should wonder why it happens in your sleep). Fourthly, unpleasant feelings in the legs: when a person before going to sleep has an irresistible desire to twitch them – the so-called restless legs syndrome. Fifth, sleepwalking and talking or grinding of teeth.
It’s important to understand that, depending on the type of problem, other specialists may need to be involved.
Often, anxiety, a background tension in people that they have not noticed for years, turns into a heart and kidney rhythm disorder. A person may not feel it symptomatically or not understand what the symptom is telling him, but insomnia occurs. It’s a kind of chronic spasm that translates into a real spasm of the blood vessels, especially the small capillaries. The blood circulates worse through the body, and actually the brain suffers from a lack of nourishment. In this case, you need to remove the tension and then move on.