How important is sleep to a person? What happens if you don't sleep enough?

All of our body systems are capable of recovering from sleep and, conversely, collapsing from sleep deprivation. Unfortunately, sleep is not a deposit in the bank; it cannot be accumulated or set aside for the future. It is impossible to tell the body: let's work today and get a good night's sleep tomorrow. Because it is impossible to get back what we have missed out on from sleep. As a result, the debt will stay with us forever. And no matter how hard we try, we will never get back what we have lost. Week after week, this debt grows like an increase in interest on an unpaid loan.


Sleep is the most important life and health insurance a person possesses. It is the most effective function that restores daily health and performance to our brain and body. It is the miraculous elixir that helps us stay awake and live long. It is Mother Nature's panacea for all diseases.


What happens if you don't get enough sleep?

Lack of sleep is linked to the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. The loss of even one hour of sleep can be irreplaceable. Twice a year, a global experiment on humanity is conducted in 70 countries. And you know about it, of course. This experiment is called "Daylight Saving Time. In 2014, there was an article in the journal Open Heart that looked at 42,000 hospitalizations for heart attacks in the spring, after moving the hands back an hour. Now, the day after that event, the number of heart attacks increases by 24! percent.


There is a strong correlation between healthy sleep and strong immunity. People who sleep less than seven hours a night are almost three times more likely to get colds. If you don't get enough sleep in the week before getting a flu shot, the body produces less than 50 percent of the necessary antibody response, making the shot less effective.

Lack of sleep increases anxiety and is associated with high rates of depression. Conversely, proper sleep strengthens memory, improves learning, physical fitness and mental health. Ironically, one of the benefits of the pandemic that happened was more freedom in the sleep schedule. Parents didn't have to get up early to send their kids to school. And for "owls," getting up early is a brutal ordeal. As studies show, we do not choose to be an owl or a lark. It is largely determined by genetics and is laid down in the womb. Owls who started sleeping in harmony with their natural biological rhythm during lockdown felt much better.


Why do we need enough sleep?

Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Consistent sleep of less than six hours leads to many diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and being overweight.


Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan both claimed sleep was useless and slept four to five hours a night. In their cases, Alzheimer's disease was a natural outcome of this attitude toward one's body. Even if you have neglected sleep so far, it's never too late to correct the situation. Treating sleep disorders in middle-aged and older people delays the onset of age-related brain changes by about ten years.


It is in sleep that the body removes toxic amino acid residues, beta-amyloids, from the body. High levels of beta-amyloids in the body are now considered a major factor in causing Alzheimer's disease. So waking can be thought of as biochemically damaging the brain, and sleeping can be thought of as sanitizing it.


Ignacio Diaz Olano's "Sleeping Girl."


Why do we dream?

Dreams are not just a side effect of the stage of sleep called "REM sleep." Dreams have important implications for us.


First, they can be seen as the body's first emotional help. Dreams are a form of nocturnal therapy. It is the only time when our brain is completely free of the stress-related neurotransmitter noradrenaline. It is only released into the bloodstream during wakefulness. When we dream, key emotional and memory-related brain structures are activated, memories freed from norepinephrine. We get a chance to re-process unpleasant memories in a safe and peaceful environment. Dreams act as a nighttime soothing balm, smoothing out the sharp edges of difficult, painful experiences.

Secondly, during dreams our brain connects together common areas of acquired knowledge and draws a new generalized picture of reality. Dmitri Mendeleev dreamt about the Periodic system of chemical elements. Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards extracted his famous guitar solo from the song "Satisfaction" from a dream, and Paul McCartney dreamt of his hits "Yesterday" and "Let It Be." Every morning we wake up with a renewed network of associations that allow us to find solutions to previously hopeless problems. It's not for nothing that they say "the best bridge between despair and hope is a good night's sleep." It's also said that "wiser in the morning."


What does sleep for children?

Healthy sleep has a positive effect on all systems of the child's body. A child who sleeps well easily remembers new information, is better able to concentrate and, therefore, learn. Children really do grow through sleep. And just like in adults, sleep in children strengthens the nervous system. All parents know that a sleep-deprived child is naughty and his mood is unstable. And it is easy to overtire a child, but difficult to calm him.


So an hour before going to bed, you need to exclude moving games and do something calm and soothing. It is very important to create a routine which will be repeated day after day, as a ritual. For children routine is the key to a stable psycho-emotional state. They need it as in sunlight and air.


A perfect version of such a routine is bedtime reading together.


Our publisher has wonderful bedtime reading books that create a "lampshade", soothing atmosphere in the home. And set your child up for sleep.


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