When it comes to overall health and wellness, the most commonly discussed pairing is diet and exercise. And for good reason — they are one of the main methods of strengthening the body and combating stress. What a person eats, how active he is, is extremely important for the prevention of diseases of the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, brain, internal organs and tissues of the body. But physiologists believe that sleep disturbances and chronic sleep deprivation may have a greater impact on morbidity and mortality in men and women than cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases combined.
Sound sleep is the key to health
Night sleep is a vital time for the general improvement of the body, recovery and regulation of metabolic processes. Sleep disturbance can affect blood pressure, heart rate, mental state, hormonal and immunological functions, and many other important aspects of normal physiology. Many of the common diseases of the cardiovascular, pulmonary, and even nervous systems can be caused by sleep disorders. And here’s the thing: a modern person lives an active life almost around the clock, surrounded by a large number of technologies that disturb sleep. High workload, evening irritants in the form of phones, tablets and TVs significantly worsen the quality of rest. And these are not isolated cases, according to statistics, sleep is disturbed in more than half of adults.
Causes of sleep disorders: stress, emotions, overload
Quality and full sleep helps to eliminate stress, gives rest to the body and brain. However, lack of sleep and constant lack of sleep, early rises and late bedding provoke this very stress. Sleep disorders are nothing new: insomnia, shallow and interrupted sleep, sleep apnea and snoring are not new conditions, but their occurrence is increasing. Modern life negatively affects the quantity and quality of night (and day) rest.
Sports neurologists, sleep specialists, coaches, and strength and conditioning experts will tell you that the best and most consistent athletes on any team and in any sport tend to be the best sleepers. Basically, when it comes to the effect of sleep on performance (physical or mental), studies have shown that sleep deprivation every night (up to six hours a week or more) is associated with premature physical fatigue, metabolic disorders, increased risk of injury. This negatively affects health. Conversely, optimizing sleep (normalization of the regimen, a sufficient amount of sleep in peace and quiet) can significantly improve physical activity and cognitive functions, and reduce the impact of stress on the body.
The work of the brain in sleep: what is important?
Sleep is a neurological phenomenon. And many neurological functions, changes in brain activity, are associated with sleep. One of the main questions that doctors are interested in is how sleep disturbance affects the work of the glyphic system of the brain. It is believed that the glyphic system is a kind of “sewer” network that cleanses the brain of intermediate and waste compounds, and is responsible for removing toxins from the central parts of the nervous system. However, it also promotes tissue repair and improves the efficiency and performance of neurons. The study, which was published in the journal Science, suggested that sleep is a time when the brain (via the glyphic system) clears out those harmful molecules associated with neurodegenerative conditions such as those associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Sleep problems and disease provocation
Scientists believe that there are several factors that can disrupt a person’s sleep, provoking metabolic disorders and diseases. Physiological factors are distinguished, such as the presence of sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and circadian rhythm disorders (desynchronosis). There are work-related factors such as early morning and night shifts, long commutes, and delayed sleep while flying between time zones. Last but not least, environmental and lifestyle factors are negatively impacted. It is on them that people themselves can actively influence in order to improve their sleep.
There are several conditions that can immediately indicate that there are problems with sleep. This is the inability to fall asleep within 15–20 minutes after going to bed, frequent awakenings during the night sleep, sleep duration less than 7–8 hours. In addition, there is an increased risk of health problems and serious illness if a person wakes up not feeling rested, or when they are awake feeling sluggish and sleepy, unable to concentrate.
Improve sleep and health
But do not worry right away, the good news is that the patient himself can do a lot to improve sleep hygiene. Changing your sleep habits is important to improve your health and performance. Some of the most effective sleep-improving interventions may seem the most difficult at first. It is important to get rid of your smartphone, tablet, TV and other sources of bright light that can disrupt sleep signals to the brain. The result is lack of sleep, stress and illness.
But it’s not just about how bedtime rituals are formed. Another great way to improve sleep is to get enough sunlight, natural light throughout the day, especially in the early morning hours. Again, this has to do with the physiological periods of sleep and wakefulness of the brain. It is also very important to find a way to help the brain relax before going to bed, switch from one activity to another.
Sometimes sleep problems can only be fixed by a specialist. If these are pathologies or serious illnesses that disrupt falling asleep and sleep, they must be eliminated. It must be understood that these problems can affect overall health, including the risk of developing heart, lung, neurological and other diseases. Therefore, you should not try to take drugs on your own, especially sleeping pills. They often do not eliminate the problem itself, but only exacerbate it.