Maybe you’ve been losing a few hours of sleep every night for some time and are wondering if you can compensate for the lost sleeping hours with a sleep marathon on weeknights. Well, according to medical experts, paying off your sleep dept does not happen easily, but it is possible. Your body’s circadian rhythm was disrupted and getting your natural sleeping pattern back requires time and patience. In the following lines, we offer you suggestions how to achieve a normal sleeping schedule and also the role sleep plays in your health.
Consequences of Sleep Deprivation
If your sleep deprivation is caused by obligations and deadlines, you should weigh out your priorities because sleep deprivation carries with itself a host of health consequences that no obligation can outweigh. Studies show that short-term sleep deprivation causes mental confusion, memory loss, and poor coordination. Long-term sleep deprivation is even worse and can lead to diabetes, obesity, and heart diseases as shown in one study conducted by the University of Chicago. The research subjects were young volunteers, and they slept for only 4 hours for 6 days straight. The volunteers developed higher blood pressure and higher levels of cortical as a consequence of sleep deprivation. They also showed signs of insulin resistance and a weakened immune system because they produced half the number of antibodies from a flue vaccine.
How Much Sleep do we Need?
Most people need 8 hours of sleep each night in order to remain healthy. How many hours you exactly need is determined by your genetic makeup. Other factors that will affect the amount of needed sleep are climate and medical conditions. People in warmer climates are said to be more likely to take afternoon naps. People with health problems will need to sleep longer hours because illness exhausts the body which then needs more rest. Although our circadian rhythm is controlled by light changes caused by shifts in day and night, some people are said to have mutations in certain internal clock genes resulting in unusual sleeping patterns which are considered to be disorders that need treatment. But all in all, the healthy average person will need anywhere between 7 and 9 hours of sleep to function normally.
How important is Sleep?
After oxygen and food, sleep comes third in it’s importance for staying alive. Not getting enough sleep can cause many diseases from diabetes to heart disease and yet it seems to not be taken seriously by the wider public. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even suggested that sleep deprivation has become a public concern in America because according to their recent study, an estimated one-third of the US population is not getting enough sleep. More and more people are losing sleep which might explain the rise in diabetes and obesity in the developed world. Sleep deprivation is also associated with an increased risk of work-related accidents and mistakes. We see how sleep is important for the individual as much as the wider community.
How to get an Adequate Amount Of Sleep
The best way to get a good nights rest is by going to bed at the same time every night. If you have problems with falling asleep, turning off the lights and avoiding looking at any type of screen will help activate melatonin production. Light pollution can disrupt the circadian rhythm in sensitive individuals, so going to a dark room might prove to be helpful. If however you’ve been losing sleep for some time due to a hectic lifestyle, Dr. Lawrence J. Epstein from the Harvard-affiliated Sleep Health Centers, who has been treating sleep disorder patients for more than 20 years, gives advice on how to regain normal sleeping patterns and pay your sleep dept. To compensate for short-term sleep debt, Dr. Epstein suggests adding a couple of extra hours of sleep on the weekends and an hour of sleep each night in the following weeks until you star waking up feeling rested. For a long-term sleep debt, he suggests taking a vacation and turning the alarm clock will help your body get the rest it deserves and help in establishing a normal sleeping pattern. Paying off a sleep debt might take some time, even a couple of months depending on how much you’ve pushed yourself to the limit, but it is none the less possible.
Sleep is crucial for normal brain functioning and for the regulation of metabolism processes. Not getting enough sleep leads to problems with memory and cognition. Long-term sleep deprivation or insomnia puts one at a great risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. To establish normal sleeping patterns after depriving yourself of sleep for some time will take some time but it needs to be done because your health is at stake. People can get used to not sleeping enough and ignore their bodies pleads for sleep.