We all heard in childhood that sleep is the best medicine. Of course, it will not replace medications, but it can significantly affect health: lack of sleep is associated with an increased risk of developing type II diabetes and high blood pressure . The amount of sleep that each person needs is individual (the average rate fluctuates around seven to eight hours), but there is a danger here: we often think that everything is in order, although in reality we are sorely lacking sleep. Remember that trouble sleeping and feeling drowsy can be a sign of another medical condition or condition, such as apnea (that is, breathing stopping during sleep) or stress that prevents you from falling asleep. If you feel that you cannot solve your sleep problems, contact a specialist: a somnologist, neurologist or psychotherapist.
You are irritable
A bad mood can have hundreds of reasons, from a tough day to clinical depression and hormonal fluctuations. Lack of sleep also affects our mental health: for a long time sleep problems have been considered a symptom of mental difficulties, but research has shown that chronic sleep deprivation or insomnia can increase the risk of psychological problems and worsen the condition of patients with certain medical conditions, such as depression or anxiety disorder. You already know for sure how easily your mood spoils after a sleepless night – with constant lack of sleep it can be the same. If you find yourself becoming irritable and nervous more than usual, it may be that you need to get more sleep.
You fall asleep instantly
Many people think that the habit of falling asleep instantly as soon as your head touches the pillow is a sign that everything is fine. In fact, everything is exactly the opposite, and falling asleep instantly is a sign that you have trouble sleeping. Sleep psychologist and specialist Michael Breus notes that sleep should not come overnight: it should be like driving a car, where you gently press the brakes and the car stops smoothly. According to the expert, if you fall asleep in less than five minutes, there is reason to wonder if you have enough sleep. But gradually falling asleep for twenty minutes is quite normal.
Are you hoping to sleep off this weekend
Many of us live with the idea that on weekdays, when we are loaded with a bunch of tasks, sleep can be sacrificed – and then “catch up” or “get enough sleep for the future” on Saturday and Sunday. If you live with this conviction, the bad news is that it is unfortunately not possible to compensate for your lack of sleep two days a week.
In 2010, a study was conducted in which participants slept less than their norm for five days, and then on the sixth got the opportunity to “restorative” sleep. When the time for “restorative” sleep was raised to ten hours, the subjects’ cognitive abilities more or less bounced back – but the results were still worse than before people faced lack of sleep. Of course, this study does not take into account many of the nuances of real life (for example, all participants had no sleep problems before the experiment), but the main conclusion is obvious: one night will not be enough to eliminate the consequences of the problem.
You have become less attentive
Anyone who at least once in his student years came to a couple after a sleepless night knows how hard it is to concentrate on what the lecturer is saying. Lack of sleep affects our ability to concentrate and the reaction rate due to this more difficult for us to perceive new information and make decisions. This is also why, for example, sleepy drivers are not advised to drive: lack of attention can lead to an accident. If you feel that your job has become more difficult for no apparent reason, and your normal work activities are taking longer, it’s time to try sleeping more.
You started having memory problems
One of the tasks of sleep is to help our brain process the information received during the day and prepare to receive it the next day. For more than a hundred years, scientists have been convinced that memory is closely related to sleep: however, if earlier it was believed that sleep helps memories “fix”, preventing our brain from being distracted by external stimuli, now scientists think that at night our brain collects all the information received and is looking for new connections in her. One possible effect of sleep deprivation is short-term memory impairment: Lack of sleep can prevent new memories from forming. So if you feel that recently you have begun to forget something more often, it may be due to a lack of rest.
In the morning you still want to sleep
An obvious symptom that, nevertheless, many people ignore: if in the morning you really want to sleep and cannot wipe your eyes, and during the day you only think about how to take a break or get to bed in the evening, you may not have enough sleep or should work over its quality: work out a regime (that is, go to bed and get up at about the same time), sleep in a dark room, do not overeat before going to bed and use less gadgets in bed. Remember that if all the conditions are met, there may be other reasons – for example, due to apnea, you will feel tired even if you get enough sleep.
You often have a cold
Immunity and how often we get sick can be influenced by many factors, from smoking to unclean filters in an office air conditioner. Sleep is also an important factor, as lack of sleep makes us more vulnerable to illness. A study by American scientists showed that those who slept six hours or less were four times more likely to catch a cold when exposed to the virus than those who slept four hours.
This, of course, does not mean that sleep should become the main protection against seasonal colds (the habit of washing your hands will come in handy no less, if not more; moreover, the researchers themselves are still talking only about correlation, and not about causality) – but this is at least a reason to think.
You are constantly hungry
There is a subtle connection between sleep and eating habits – and yet you shouldn’t discount it. For example, a study by scientists at the California Institute at Berkeley showed that after a sleepless night, the participants in the experiment were more eager for junk food and snacks (we are, of course, not talking about carrot sticks).
“We found that sleep deprivation affects the highly organized brain regions needed for complex decisions and judgments, making them less active. At the same time, brain areas that are responsible for less complex processes that control motivation and desires are beginning to be more actively involved, ”says senior author of the study, professor of psychology and neurobiology Matthew Walker. If, instead of a couple of vegetables, the hand more often reaches for chocolates, perhaps it is also a lack of sleep – and the fact that it is more difficult for us to resist the primitive passion for carbohydrates.