Sleep is as much a part of a healthy lifestyle as a balanced diet and regular physical activity. Although everyone devotes about a third of their lives to it, the importance of sleep is often ignored. According to the NationalSleep Foundation, the optimal amount of sleep for an adult is between 7 and 9 hours per night. Adequate, undisturbed sleep keeps you rested, focused and productive. It also affects your health.
Why do we sleep?
Sleep is one of the basic (physiological) human needs. The human body needs sleep just like eating, drinking, and breathing. During the day, the body produces a chemical called adenosine, which accumulates in the brain and leads to feelings of tiredness. This is why we feel sleepy in the evening, signalling that it is time to go to bed. As we sleep, the body clears out the adenosine, so we should feel rested in the morning. If this is not the case, it is likely that your sleep was too short, or something has disturbed it. Healthy sleep should be sufficiently long, regular, and effective.
Sleep is essential for the proper functioning of the whole body, especially the brain. It keeps you healthy and regenerated, so that you feel concentrated and energetic the next day. It is essential for proper cell development and tissue regeneration. It helps you to remember memories and knowledge gained during the day. It’s hard to ignore something so incredibly important to our health and functioning.
The impact of sleep on our health
A study by the US National Institutes of Health found that getting enough sleep reduces the risk of obesity. People who slept at least 7 hours each night consumed on average 500 kcal less than those who did not get enough sleep. This is because sleep affects an area of the brain called the hypothalamus, which regulates appetite. When you are sleep deprived, the production of hormones responsible for the feeling of satiety and hunger – leptin and ghrelin respectively – is disrupted. Consequently, after a sleepless night, you may experience excessive appetite, especially for calorie-dense meals. In addition, the less you sleep, the less motivated you are to exercise. If sleep disturbances last for a long time, they can lead to excessive fat accumulation.
Sleep regenerates the body after the physical exertion done during the day. When you sleep, your body takes the time to rest and rebuild damaged cells so it can perform at high speed again the next day. Numerous studies have shown that adequate sleep can improve motor skills, reaction time, muscle strength and endurance and sports performance. What’s more, lack of sleep can increase the risk of injury.
Proper sleep is important in the prevention of heart disease and type two diabetes. During sleep, the heart rate and blood pressure naturally decrease. For the heart and blood vessels to regenerate properly, sleep must last long enough. Otherwise, there is a high risk of hypertension and consequently the development of cardiovascular diseases. People who sleep less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours a day are at risk of glycaemic disturbances. Long-term sleep problems can contribute to cellular resistance to insulin. This is the hormone responsible for converting glucose into energy and storing fat and protein. When the body does not use insulin effectively, blood sugar levels rise.
An adequate amount of regenerative sleep increases the body’s anti-inflammatory defences. The body fights more effectively against free radicals, the excess of which, among other things, accelerates the ageing process and contributes to the development of cancer. Proper sleep increases the body’s resistance, minimises the effects of stress and reduces the risk of depression and other mental illnesses.
Sleep and concentration
Researchers compare the effect of not getting enough sleep while driving to driving under the influence of alcohol. Staying up all night is also the worst thing you can do before an upcoming deadline at work or exam at school. Lack of sleep can cause irritability and lethargy the next day, as well as problems with concentration and memory. Getting enough sleep per day allows you to focus better, reduces feelings of burnout, increases your decision-making ability, and reduces the number of mistakes you make. Therefore, getting enough sleep can have a huge impact on creativity and productivity at work and school.
With regular sleep, your brain’s ability to learn and remember can be improved. While you sleep, your brain regenerates and catalogues important information gained during the day. It is even more active in the REM phase than during the day when you are awake. With too little sleep, absorbing new information and understanding it is very difficult because the brain does not have enough time to retain it. Memory capacity is highest during childhood and adolescence, so sleep is particularly important at this stage of life. It has been proven that children who sleep more do better in school, meaning they have better exam results than children who stay up late to study.
Impact of sleep on the emotional sphere
Optimal sleep increases the body’s resistance to stress. Researchers studied two groups of young adults who were asked to give an impromptu speech. One group was allowed to sleep the night before, while the other had to stay awake all night. The sleep-deprived group experienced more stress, which was manifested, among other things, by elevated blood pressure.
A good night’s sleep regulates emotions, improves mood, and makes it easier to carry out daily activities. Fatigue can also affect your sense of humour and display of empathy. People who have chronic sleep problems are more likely to withdraw from social life and experience loneliness. Prioritising sleep can be a key way to improve relationships.
Failure to maintain sleep hygiene can have a negative impact on relationships with loved ones. Researchers at UC Berkeley have presented a study that suggests that not getting enough sleep can interfere with a partner’s ability to appreciate themselves, leading to stress and tension in a relationship. It turns out that less sleep increases levels of selfishness and disrupts feelings of gratitude, which can make a partner feel unappreciated.
Proper sleep is of paramount importance for your health. That is why at Clebre we aim to enable you to monitor your own sleep quality and breathing during sleep. To this end, we have developed an easy-to-use device that examines the sleep process at home with medical accuracy. The system consists of a wireless sensor that collects signals from your neck during sleep and records the results in a mobile and web app. The Clebre sensor records the parameters of each of your breaths, measures the severity of snoring and apnoea and examines the quality of sleep. The device gives you the opportunity to monitor whether you are sleeping properly, without having to sign up for complicated tests in hospital.