Sleep is essential for a normal healthy life - everyone knows that. You can eat the healthiest food and stay in the gym, but if you don't get enough sleep all the time, all efforts will go down the drain.
1. Our ancient ancestors devoted more time to sleep, because their daily rhythm depended on the rising and setting of the sun. Today we have artificial light that allows us to prolong the period of wakefulness and, therefore, reduce the time we sleep. And while sleep requirements are different for each organism, many experts insist that healthy sleep should continue for about nine hours a day. Recent studies have shown that the majority of insomnia sufferers do something that stimulates brain activity an hour before bedtime: 90% watch TV, 33% work on a computer, and 43% do something around the house.
2. Lack of sleep seriously affects hormones that keep metabolism, appetite, mood, ability to concentrate, etc. under control. Studies have shown that among those who sleep less than six hours a day, there are more smokers, heavy drinkers, not playing sports and obese. Curiously, the same can be said for people who regularly sleep more than nine hours a day. Experts from the University of London College of Medicine have found that sleep deprivation and excess sleep both double the risk of death.
Scientists have long known about the link between lack of sleep and cardiovascular disease, although they cannot explain why a lot of sleep is so bad. Recent studies have identified the relationship between excess sleep and depression and low socioeconomic status, but this issue needs further study.
3. Cryptochromes are ancient proteins that are found in all plants and animals on our planet. These substances, which "live" mainly in the eyes and on the skin, are sensitive to all shades of blue that appear in nature at dawn or dusk, and therefore are very important for our daily cycle. With the help of these substances, our bodies and with closed eyes are able to recognize sunlight.
Have you ever wondered how the blind know when is day and when is night? Cryptochromes detect when sunlight has stopped and signal the pineal gland to convert serotonin, which has kept you awake all day, into melatonin, which will help you get a good night's rest.
As soon as morning comes, serotonin production will increase, and melanin production will decrease, and you will be ready for a new day. That is why doctors so often prescribe SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors; approx. Mixstuff.ru) as an antidepressant. All a person needs to overcome depression is a good night's sleep.
4. The active use of artificial light has led to the disruption of the natural rhythm of the production of serotonin-melatonin, which has evolved for millennia. Melatonin production is suppressed by light and resumes at nightfall, so the longer you sit up in the evenings, the more negatively it affects your physical and mental well-being.
Research has shown that premature aging is related to decreased melatonin levels during sleep. Melatonin is linked to our learning ability and memory function. It may have beneficial effects in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. It is a powerful antioxidant that can protect DNA from free radical damage and prevent the development of some forms of cancer.
Recent studies have shown that workers whose daily cycle is constantly disrupted by working night shifts are at risk for cancer. So if you have to work at night, try to at least arrange for the night shifts to alternate with daytime shifts each month.
And before you rush to the pharmacy to buy melatonin-containing medications, be aware that while these supplements may help for a while, in the long run they will cause your body to gradually produce even less melatonin.
Nothing, absolutely nothing can replace healthy sleep.
5. Studies have shown that hormonal imbalances are associated with a violation of the deep phase of sleep. That is, ultimately, it is not so much the quantity of sleep that matters as its quality.
Superficial sleep increases levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. It is useful in moderation, but if the level is too high it becomes dangerous.
High cortisol levels lead to low testosterone levels, a weakened immune system, loss of muscle mass, and high blood pressure. In addition, excess cortisol contributes to weight gain, especially in the abdomen, and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Cortisol decreases the production of serotonin, and serotonin deficiency can be increased by taking carbohydrates (sugar and starch). This is why many people are so attracted to sweets when they are stressed out or stay up late. Because seratonin is soothing, improves mood, and relieves depression, sweets can become addicted in certain situations.
In order to maintain a healthy weight, body energy and mood, try to keep your cortisol levels in check - find the best way for you to deal with stress. This could be, for example, walking in the morning to work or school, or listening to the news on the radio before bed.