In the dream, we spend a third of life. Sleep is a regular process of recovery. Healthy and proper sleep is the key to successful day and good mood. Scientists have estimated that the duration of sleep compared to the XIX century was reduced by 20%, and today about 60% of people suffer from chronic sleep deprivation, that is they regularly sleep less than genetically prescribed 7-9 hours. And according to researchers, chronic sleep deprivation was the result of the development of civilization.
Each person needs good sleep for normal functioning of the organism. Unfortunately, to present date, for various reasons, many people have serious disorders of sleep or complete disappearance of sleep. Medical statistics shows that every fifth person suffers from this disease and the number of bad sleeping people is growing. Examinations, a new job or a new relationship - any changes can lead to unexpected problems with the planning of time. According to researches, people, especially teenagers, are trying to solve these problems simple - deprive themselves of sleep to manage everything. The problem is that sleep deprivation is very dangerous for the health and in the long term it can lead to risky consequences.
Sleep deprivation - lack or total absence of satisfaction in the need for sleep. It may occur as a result of sleep disorders, a conscious choice or by force, in the torture and interrogation. It can be either chronic or acute. In case of acute sleep deprivation, a person does not sleep for one day and the subsequent the day (~ 36 hours of wakefulness). Then there comes a healthy long sleep (~ 12 hours), after which a person is asleep / awake "in the normal mode." In case of chronic sleep deprivation the duration of sleep is reduced to ~ 4 hours - for one to three weeks (and for some people sleep deprivation becomes a norm of life). According to the one group of people, chronic deprivation is tolerated much easier, while others believe that just the opposite - they say that there are problems with falling asleep. So, what kind of deprivation is preferable depends on the type of personality.
Sleep deprivation spoils the quality of human life; it negatively affects the physical and psychological conditions of a person. In order to cure the disease, it is necessary to understand the reasons that cause it. The causes for sleep disorders can be a lot and specialists divide them into two main groups: psychological and physiological. Psychological reasons cause sleep deprivation in more than half the cases. Sleep disturbance may be caused by stress, depression on the background of different etiologies. Sleeplessness caused by psychological reasons, usually does not last long and disappears after eliminating these causes. Physiological causes of sleep deprivation can be caused by taking various medications and the presence of chronic pathologies. Sleep disturbance may occur if you are taking antidepressants, painkillers, medicines, which include caffeine, corticosteroids, hormonal medication for the thyroid gland or diuretics. Sleeplessness often excruciates the people suffering from chronic diseases. (Dr Simon Kyle, 2009)
People, who do not sleep enough, by 98% of cases deal with self-deception and do not realize how dangerous it may be to their health. Over the past 10 years, scientists have conducted more than a dozen major researches on the effects of chronic sleep deficit. In the course of them it turned out that a lack of sleep negatively affects all body systems and provokes appearance of a number of serious diseases.
Sleep deprivation provokes the emergence of overweight. The confirmation of this was received by American scientists, for 16 years observing 70 thousand women of all ages. According to their collected data, women who slept 5 hours per day, by 32% were more prone to acquire excess weight and by 15% more - to obesity compared to women, who slept no less than 7 hours.
The weight gain, caused by lack of sleep, is explained by scientists due to the imbalance of secretion of ghrelin and leptin - hormones responsible for feeling of hunger and satiety. When the production of these hormones is disrupted, people often experience intense feeling of hunger, which is much harder to satisfy. Another hormonal disorder related to sleep deprivation is increased production of cortisol - a stress hormone that also stimulates hunger. A failure to comply with the sleep-wake rhythms leads to lower levels of another important hormone - somatotropic hormone, a protein responsible for the ratio of the mass of fat and muscles and accelerating the metabolism of substances. An intensive secretion of this hormone, as well as many other hormones, occurs periodically and has several peaks during the day (every 3-5 hours). The highest and predictable peak is observed at night, about an hour or two after falling asleep. (Jolanta Orzeł-Gryglewska, 2010)
The hormone melatonin plays an important role in preserving the organism of person young and is a powerful antioxidant that has been proven by scientists. Melatonin neutralizes the destructive consequences of oxidative processes, which are the main cause of aging. As a powerful antioxidant, melatonin penetrates into all tissues and organs of the body, affecting its condition as a whole.
The mechanism of antioxidant action manifests itself in that melatonin has a pronounced ability to bind free radicals, including those formed by lipid peroxidation of hydroxyl radicals and exogenous carcinogens, and it activates the glutathione peroxidase - a factor protecting the body from free radical damage. It is worthy to note that the highest concentration of melatonin is observed in the appendix, the cecum - that is where the main carcinogens accumulate entering the body with food.
Synthesis and secretion of melatonin is directly dependent on the illumination - when light falls on the retina of eye, a brain gives a command to lower the synthesis of hormone. Reducing the amount of light falling at the eye has the opposite effect - increased production of melatonin. The person at the night hours has 70% of the daily production of melatonin. The peak of melatonin production is observed at approximately 2 AM. Accordingly, reduction of nighttime sleep or violation of the period of falling asleep leads to a decrease in daily production of melatonin and increase the risk of premature aging. (Shelley Emling, 2013)
A shortage of sleep at night can trigger the occurrence of cancer, particularly of colon cancer, say experts from Medical Center Case and School of Medicine at the University of Case Western. In the study, whose results were published in the journal Cancer in February 2011, participated 1,240 people. 338 of them were diagnosed with colorectal adenoma - the predecessor of cancer. Further study of the patients showed that sufferers of adenoma sleep at night less than 6 hours in contrast to the control group without adenoma, sleeping a minimum of 7 hours a day. Thus, the researchers have concluded that the lack of sleep at night by almost 50% increases the risk of colorectal disease development.
The risk of cancer emergence is associated by researchers with the violation of the already above-mentioned production of hormone - melatonin. This is an important hormone for the human body, in addition to antioxidant properties, it has the ability to suppress the growth of tumor cells. Melatonin influences the activity of genes that control the cell cycle, cell reproduction, intercellular relationships.
Mechanisms of influence of melatonin on the tumor growth are manifold: it can affect the synthesis and secretion of hypophyseal and sexual hormones and is able to modulate the immune response at presence of tumor cells and provide a direct cytotoxic effect. Under the influence of melatonin at some forms of cancer (breast, ovarian, prostate, etc.) the ability of cells to proliferate is reducing and the number of cells dying in the form of apoptosis is increasing. It is remarkable that, according to some information, people who are deprived of eyesight, are not susceptible to cancer. This is due to the fact that in the body of blind people in contrast to sighted people the hormone melatonin is produced intensively day and night. (Alicia Reale 2011)
Sleep disorders and the emergence of type II diabetes have a causal relationship. This fact was established by scientists from the University of Warwick (Warwickshire, England). For 6 years they observed 1,455 patients aged 35 to 79 years. All patients have passed pre-clinical inspection (measurement of blood pressure, height and weight) and were asked about their overall health, well-being and sleep patterns. In the study, doctors found that a regular sleep less than 6 hours a day increases the risk of diabetes by 3 times. Scientists explain that insufficient or poor-quality sleep starts arbitrary impaired fasting glucose, which in turn prevents the body to effectively regulate blood glucose levels. This increases the risk of Type II diabetes - insulin dependent diabetes. (Lisa Rafalson et al. 2010)
Decline in life expectancy
As a lack and an overabundance of sleep - less or more than 6-7 hours a day - increases the risk of premature death. This conclusion was made by a team of American scientists from several research organizations after completion of large-scale studies of the effect of sleep duration on mortality. Scientists collected data from 1.1 million patients of both sexes aged from 30 to 102 years. The best indicators in terms of duration of life were among those patients who slept 7 hours a day. Patients who slept 8 hours a day had by 12% more chances of dying within the next six years.
It also emerged that too long sleep causes much more damage to health than lack of sleep - the average duration of life of patients, who regularly have sleep deficit, was longer than the duration of life of overslept participants. As the researchers note, episodic insomnia does not affect life expectancy and is associated with depression rather than the bad health of the patient. At the same time, patients who regularly take sleeping pills were more likely to die earlier than patients who complained of episodes of insomnia. (Daniel F. Kripke, 2002)
Elevated blood pressure
According to scientists from the University of Chicago, the constant lack of sleep among adults over 25 years leads to the development of high blood pressure. Depriving of just 1 hour of sleep a day for 5 years increases the risk of hypertension by 37%. In addition, American scientists have once again confirmed a widespread theory that people who need to wake up every day before the traditional 8-9 o'clock in the morning, more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and get overweight because of metabolic disorders. Furthermore, the scientists were able to establish a direct link between the primary lack of sleep and subsequent development of chronic sleep deprivation, which is treated only with medication. (Kristen L. Knutson et al. 2009)
Impairment of vision
Chronic sleep deprivation can provoke problems with vision. Doctors assert that a regular sleep deficit generates glaucoma - the second leading cause of irreversible blindness. A periodically sleepy person can earn ischemic optic neuropathy. This vascular disease often occurs after waking, affects the optic nerve and is characterized by sudden, painless loss of vision in one eye. But the most prevalent eye disease associated with lack of sleep, doctors call papilledema - swelling of the optic nerve due to increased intracranial pressure. As a rule, a consequence of such edema becomes visual impairment. (Melinda L. et al. 2008)
Deterioration of male health
A week of sleep deprivation among men (daily sleep no more than 5 hours) leads to aging of the male body for 10-15 years. This was the conclusion reached by scientists from the Medical Center of Chicago University (USA). For the survey were selected 10 volunteers - men without endocrine disorders and overweight at the age before 24 years. During the week, scientists observed the level of testosterone in the blood of volunteers who slept every day not more than 5 hours. As shown by the final tests within 7 days a hormone content decreased by 10-15%. Under the conditions of normal sleep the testosterone concentration with time is also reduced, but much more slowly - by 1-2% per year. Accordingly, in order to reduce it to 10-15% is required to pass over 10-15 years. As pointed out by researchers, impaired testosterone synthesis seriously affects the male body - the hormone regulates the sexual behavior of male, reproductive function, the state of muscle mass and bone density. (Jolanta Orzeł-Gryglewska, 2010)
One of the consequences of sleep deprivation is a significant decrease in immunity. People, who sleep less than 7 hours at night, are 3 times more at risk of catching a cold than those who sleep 8 hours or more. Between 2000 and 2004, scientists conducted an experiment involving 153 adult volunteers - men and women, whose average age was 37 years. In the course of it the droplets containing the virus that causes upper respiratory tract infection have been dropped in the noses of participants. The results showed that the less a person slept, the more likely he was sick. Possible explanation of the relationship between sleep and vulnerability for cold is that a sleep disorder affects the regulation of inflammatory cytokine proteins, histamine and other substances that are released in response to infection. (Sheldon Cohen et al. 2009)
Lack of sleep can adversely affect not only the physical but also the mental health. Insufficient sleep affects the interaction between emotion and cognitive abilities of a person in the process of occurrence of moral judgments. In a study conducted at the Institute Walter Reed Army, took part 26 healthy adults who were asked to make judgments about the "morality" of certain actions or situations. The research participants answered questions after having a good sleep and after 53 hours of continuous wakefulness. As it turned out, prolonged sleep deprivation affects the time that is spent by the participants to make decisions on certain situations. In addition, they had difficulties in understanding whether a particular action is right from a moral standpoint. In the style of judgments about the presence or absence of morality in those or other actions were manifested intolerance and some permissiveness. (William D.S et al. 2006)
In conclusion, I want to mention once again that if we disregard for an eight-hour healthy sleep, it will threaten our body by a variety of harmful consequences. Abandoning natural need of our body in favor of professional or any other activity, it is worthy to remember the appointment of sleep such as control of brain structures work, information processing and transferring it to storage in long-term memory, etc. We should try to plan our day so as to have enough time for a full sleep. The evening must be free from responsible affairs and we should give ourselves an opportunity to have a rest that will restore power to the new day.
Dr Simon Kyle. 2009. Sleep deprivation symptoms.
Sleep deprivation. 2011. http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Sleep_deprivation
Shelley Emling. 2013. Sleep Deprivation Linked To Aging Skin, Study Suggests
Alicia Reale. 2011. Lack of sleep found to be a new risk factor for colon cancer. Significant study published in journal Cancer.
Lisa Rafalson, Richard P. Donahue, Saverio Stranges, Michael J. Lamonte, Jacek Dmochowski, Joan Dorn, Maurizio Trevisan. 2010. Short Sleep Duration is Associated with the Development of Impaired Fasting Glucose: The Western New York Health Study
Daniel F. Kripke. 2002. Sleep less, live longer? Archives of General Psychiatry
Kristen L. Knutson, PhD; Eve Van Cauter, PhD; Paul J. Rathouz, PhD; Lijing L. Yan, PhD; Stephen B. Hulley, MD, MPH; Kiang Liu, PhD; Diane S. Lauderdale, PhD. 2009. Association between Sleep and Blood Pressure in Midlife
Melinda L. Jackson, Rodney J. Croft, Katherine Owens, Robert J. Pierce, Gerard A. Kennedy, David Crewther, and Mark E. Howard. 2008. The effects of acute sleep deprivation on visual evoked potentials in professional drivers.
Jolanta Orzeł-Gryglewska. 2010. Consequences of Sleep Deprivation.
Sheldon Cohen, PhD; William J. Doyle, PhD; Cuneyt M. Alper, MD; Denise Janicki-Deverts, PhD; Ronald B. Turner, MD. 2009. Sleep Habits and Susceptibility to the Common Cold
William D.S. Killgore, PhD; Desiree B. Killgore, MS, CCC-SLP; Lisa M. Day, MSW; Christopher Li; Gary H. Kamimori, PhD; Thomas J. Balkin, PhD. 2006. The Effects of 53 Hours of Sleep Deprivation on Moral Judgment.