Sleep and Health

Sleep is a state that, through certain neurophysiological, chemical, and psychological changes, enables us to be physically, mentally, and emotionally productive the next day. Human sleep can be divided into several stages:

FIRST STAGE (it can also be called relaxed wakefulness) is superficial sleep. During this period we are still awake, but breathing rate, pulse rate decreases, as well as the level of blood pressure and muscle tone gradually decreases.

SECOND STAGE of sleep is a deeper sleep (of medium depth) during which the blood pressure, pulse, respiration rate continue to decrease and the muscles continue to relax. At this point we stop reacting to minor external stimuli, to the usual noise outside the window or in the apartment. During this phase, there may be twitching of the arms and legs, sometimes involving the entire body, the so-called drowsy shudders.

THE THIRD STAGE (it has now been decided to combine it with the fourth), is called deep sleep, or delta sleep. During deep sleep, important processes take place: accumulation of substances necessary for the full functioning of the body, synthesis of amino acids, regeneration processes, and synthesis of somatotropic hormone (growth hormone).

The function of the stage with rapid eye movements is psychological adaptation, ordering, analysis of the information received during the day, formation of the program of future behavior, formulation of the response to the received challenges. It is important to understand that poor sleep, and even more so sleep pathology causes changes, entails the appearance of related diseases. If emotional stress, anxiety, depression cause sleep disorders, then the sleep disorder itself causes the emergence of emotional disorders, reduced memory, concentration, reaction rate, decreased libido, impotence. It turns out that sleep is very different for us. We can say that we sleep in certain fragments, each of which is called a cycle. There are two phases in the cycle: slow sleep and fast sleep.

Then, when the phase of REM sleep ends, the next fragment begins, and then another one. There are a total of four to six such cycles. It is very important that these phases – slow and REM sleep – are differently represented during sleep: the first of them occupies 75%, the second 25%. Slow sleep is called slow sleep, because the electroencephalogram detects slow activity, vegetative activity slows down, heart rate slows down, and blood pressure decreases. It’s probably a very important period that allows the body to accumulate certain strength, energy. This is the time when the anabolic process takes place. Fast sleep is so unusual that it is even called paradoxical. Rapid rhythmic activity is registered in the brain, rapid eye movements occur, muscles that are relaxed in slow sleep relax even more.

Vegetative and endocrine “storms” arise, blood pressure, breathing, heart rate fluctuate, and finally, it is during this time that we dream. So, 25% of our sleep is spent dreaming. Thus, out of 60 years of life, a person spends 20 years in sleep, of which 5 years are spent in fast dreams, i.e. in dreams (there are no people who do not dream, but only those who remember or do not remember them). This organization of sleep helps to answer the question of why we need it.

Sleep is necessary because we really need the accumulation of energy and strength that we spend during our waking, active periods. Only after sleeping do we feel fully rested. In the evening it seems that you no longer have a reserve of energy, you feel “exhausted,” but in the morning you are ready for active activities again. We spend a quarter of our sleep on dreaming, our brain is active during this period. The number of neurons working during sleep is very high and not less than when we are awake; we just need to understand the essence of this work. If for the whole organism it is accumulation of energy and active activity, then when we talk about work in sleep we mean active mental activity. Mental phenomena occurring in sleep can be designated as psychological protection. When a person falls asleep, information is sorted, some important information goes to the long-term memory, while unimportant information is sifted out.

There are people who sleep a long time, there is little sleep, they differ from each other temperament, attitude to life, the psycho-physiological image. There are “larks” and “owls”, adapted to either later or earlier work, as well as “doves”, who feel less pressure of these rhythms and can more easily adapt to both night and day activities. The state in which a person has spent the night largely determines his or her ability to implement his or her life program. Therefore, sleep provides not only the very continuation of life, but also, very importantly, its quality. Full-fledged sleep provides an opportunity for fuller realization of the person while awake, thus the problem of sleep has not only medical, but also social aspects, the importance of which can hardly be overestimated.

It is proved that long periods of “lack of sleep” have a negative effect on the quality of life: the sense of humor disappears, irritability, withdrawal, obsessive attention to the same problems appear. Losing as little as four hours of sleep reduces reaction time by 45%. Memory deteriorates, and various diseases may worsen.

HEALTHY SLEEP RULES

Try not to accumulate periods of “lack of sleep.

If you do not want to go to sleep, you should not take alcohol or caffeine-containing products before going to bed. If you go to bed hungry or, on the contrary, with a big meal, it hurts the quality of sleep. The most burning question is sleeping on an empty stomach. Many people just can’t do it. In fact, nutritionists recommend that from the last meal to sleep at least 2-3 hours. This way your body won’t be busy digesting food, and you’ll fall asleep much faster. And instead of the work of digestion, your body will be set up to rest.

HOWEVER, TOO MUCH SLEEP IS NOT LESS HARMFUL THAN NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP. The ideal amount of sleep for an adult is seven to eight hours a night. Some experts believe that women need an extra hour of sleep because they are more emotional. Children need at least 10 hours of sleep a night for the body to function properly. Getting enough sleep can reduce their attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and improve their behavior. 20 minutes of extra sleep improves a child’s school performance. Since we spend a third of our lives sleeping, it is important to make the best use of this time to restore the body. The bed should be comfortable, the room should be dark and well ventilated, and the body position should be correct. In addition to the fact that sleeping in a distorted position can cause chronic neck and lower back pain, it can also provoke headaches, temporary sleep apnea, heartburn and stomach pain. Not to mention snoring.

SLEEPING ON YOUR STOMACH: THE MOST DANGEROUS POSITION Despite the fact that sleeping on your stomach helps digestion and can get rid of snoring, the habit of sleeping in this position provokes neck and spine pain. The main reason is that the head has to be turned, because one cannot breathe through the pillow. Bending one of the legs at the knee and putting the hand under the head only aggravates the situation, because the muscles of the neck and shoulder complex find themselves in tension, and the spine curves. Back pain in the habit of sleeping on your stomach is only a matter of time. So why is it convenient to sleep on your stomach? Doctors believe that people tend to sleep in the position in which they are most comfortable breathing-the less airflow through the throat during sleep, the more likely the person tends to sleep on their stomach. This also explains why this position reduces snoring. In contrast to sleeping on one’s stomach, sleeping on one’s back reduces the flow of air into the lungs, provoking a louder sound of inhaling and exhaling. Among other things, this posture is not recommended for those who are prone to temporary respiratory stoppages during sleep (apnea).

SLEEPING ON YOUR BACK: THE BEST SLEEPING POSITION In this position, the spine is in a neutral position, which helps the body to recover effectively. However, remember that the pillow for such sleep should be as thin as possible (high increases the load on the neck), and the mattress should not be too soft, but not too firm. Additional pillows under the knees and lower back will make sleeping in this position more comfortable.

SLEEPING ON YOUR SIDE When sleeping on your side and on your back you need a pillow that is not too high and a mattress that can cushion the body. Suitable for everyone, sleeping on your side is also considered one of the best positions. In this case, the side on which you sleep plays an important role – sleeping on the right side can provoke heartburn, and sleeping on the left reduces the production of acid in the stomach and is useful for reflux disease. The most correct position of the arms when sleeping on your side is to stretch them out along the body – putting your arms under the pillow can cause both neck pain and an unpleasant feeling of numbness.

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