Oh, how sweet sleep can be in the last minutes before waking up. Especially when you need to urgently get up and get ready for work or rush to the station, to the airport. Good sleep gives an incomparable feeling of rest. It fills us with strength and energy, allows us to forget about yesterday’s problems, cleanses the brain of negativity. No wonder they say: “The morning is wiser than the evening”!
The effect of sleep on health
Sleep is a natural physiological state of the body, which is characterized by a reduced reaction of the brain and sensory organs to what is happening in the surrounding reality. It is of great importance for health and life. First of all, without it, it is impossible to have a good rest, complete relaxation and recuperation. It also strengthens the immune system.
Sleep is very important for the functioning of the brain and nervous system. In this state, new information is memorized, processed and stored. Studies have shown that during sleep, the brain is cleared of waste products of its activity.
A relaxed sleep state is also necessary for the nervous system: during a night’s rest, it produces a “reboot” and corrects the activity of internal organs.
What is the optimal sleep duration?
This question cannot be answered unambiguously. The number of hours of sleep a person needs is determined by many circumstances, such as age, health status, fatigue level, degree of nervous system excitation, etc. Therefore, there is no general norm, and the individual norm may be different.
There are people who need 10–11 hours of sleep, while others need 5–6. Sometimes a few minutes are enough to restore strength, but after hard work or sleepless nights, a person can sleep for 24 hours in a row, etc.
In general, it is generally accepted that the physiological norm is a regular 8‑hour sleep.
There is an opinion that it is more useful to go to bed before 24:00, since such sleep is healthier than later. However, research does not support this fact. However, most physiologists still believe that the best time for a good night’s rest is between 22:00 and 06:00.
There are people who do not get enough sleep during the week because they go to bed late and get up early. But they prefer to compensate for this on weekends. Is such compensation useful or harmful?
Studies by physiologists suggest that people who constantly do not have 8 hours of sleep and sleep only on weekends have a negative impact on health. Their blood pressure and cholesterol levels are worse than those who had a regular 8‑hour sleep throughout the week.
Complete systematic rest is a necessary condition for life
As mentioned, the state of sleep causes complete muscle relaxation. Therefore, it is the main and indispensable means for the rest of the whole organism.
The number of hours of sleep varies by age. So, for example, babies stay in this state for about 18 hours a day. Then, as the child grows, the number of these hours decreases. By the time of puberty, that is, in adolescence, the need for sleep comes to the 8‑hour norm.
As we age, the quality of sleep gets worse. A person begins to wake up more often and it is more difficult to fall asleep. Compared to young age, sleep no longer has the ability to deeply and comprehensively restore the body. This decline in this function is associated with brain aging.
The quality and quantity of hours of sleep in adults has a great impact on work productivity. If a person regularly lacks sleep and his body does not receive complete rest and relaxation, then his brain performance indicators, memory, attention, coordination, etc. decrease. Therefore, in some Japanese companies there are special rest rooms where during the working day the employee can It’s time to sleep and relax. They are designed to improve productivity.
Forcible sleep deprivation can lead to serious consequences, because of this, a person’s health can seriously deteriorate. If he is deprived of the opportunity to sleep for several days, his consciousness becomes cloudy, he constantly falls into a borderline state, the body, as it were, switches itself off. The body cannot do without regular rest, it is fraught with serious “breakdowns”.
(In some political regimes, sleep deprivation is used as torture during interrogation of prisoners to force them to testify.)
How to ensure proper sleep
In order for sleep to come, a change in lighting is very important. In nature, the 24-hour cycles of alternating day and night differ precisely in the level of illumination.
Before falling asleep, a number of physiological changes occur in the body. They talk about him preparing to switch to rest. At this time, the muscles relax, brain activity decreases, the circle of attention narrows, yawning appears, eyelids stick together, heart rate decreases, and the pulse becomes less frequent. The body is preparing for deep relaxation.
The same thing happens in the animal kingdom. Representatives of wildlife need regular sleep, it also happens cyclically. But there are some differences here as well. For example, whales, dolphins, crocodiles, and birds are capable of unilateral sleep, during which one of the cerebral hemispheres sleeps while the other remains awake. Then these hemispheres change.
This is because animals whose habitat is the seas and oceans need to hold their breath. To do this, they must periodically swim to the surface to take in air. One-sided sleep also allows them to protect themselves from danger, persecution, etc.
Birds are able to sleep even on the fly.
Conditions for fast sleep
Physiologists have developed a number of rules that help to avoid insomnia. These rules contain the following items:
use the bed exclusively for sleeping, just don’t wallow in it,
go to bed only when you want to and feel like falling asleep,
if you can’t fall asleep, don’t toss and turn in bed, but get up (you need to associate it only with sleep, and not with insomnia),
get up at the same time in the morning, at the wake of the alarm,
don’t go to bed during the day.
Some of these recommendations may seem controversial. In particular, in many Mediterranean countries there is a tradition of daytime sleep, which is called a siesta, etc. So different experts have different opinions on this issue.
But there are also traditional methods that have been proven over the years and do without medicines. Let’s list them.
Before going to bed, you can do a warm foot bath with essential oil (see below for more on this).
It is necessary to provide comfortable conditions for a night’s rest. It is very important that it is warm, it helps to relax the muscles. It is recommended to cover yourself with a warm and at the same time light blanket (best of all, down). It is also important to keep the feet warm to fall asleep, especially for those people who have “lazy” blood circulation, which is why the feet are often cold. In this case, warm light socks that do not squeeze the ankle help.
Before going to bed, it is good to drink a glass of warm milk with honey, this also helps to relax. Herbal teas also help, especially from mint, chamomile, lemon balm.
Before you go to the side, turn on a quiet audio recording that records sleepy sounds, such as monotonous raindrops, the rustle of waves, distant wind noise, and other monotonous sounds.
Very important! An hour before going to bed, turn off loud music, TV, computer. All of them have a stimulating effect on the nervous system and interfere with relaxation and rest.
Foot bath with essential oil
To relax before going to bed, foot baths with essential oil will help. Lavender, chamomile, lemon balm, geranium, rose, hop, etc. oils have a good calming effect. You can buy them at a pharmacy.
The water for the foot bath should be at a pleasantly warm temperature; too hot is not recommended. It is enough to add 5–6 drops of essential oil to the water.
Such baths can be done every other day. With increased pressure, it is better to refrain from them.