Impact of poor sleep on our daily life
While many of us are aware of the consequences of poor sleep, some of us believe that the impact of sleep does not go beyond simple fatigue.
In fact, insomnia and sleep disturbances lead to much more serious repercussions, in the short and medium term.
How can good sleep improve our health?
What happens while we sleep?
Sleep helps the functioning of our body. But what exactly does it provide us with?
In the "rest" phase, neural connections re-organize themselves and adapt to the environment and to new information which is acquired.
This is why sleep is accompanied by many physiological mechanisms, such as hormonal secretions, cell regeneration (skin, muscle, scarring, etc.) or memory consolidation. All of these mechanisms contribute to the functioning of our entire body.
How does sleep impact our health?
Restful sleep helps in physical, mental, and intellectual recovery.
The entire body functions through daily cycles, also known as the circadian rhythm. These cycles are tied to the cycle of day and night.
Sleeping well will therefore determine:
- Our state of vigilance during the day, not to mention how we perceive our environment;
- Regulating our body temperature during the day;
- Rebuilding our energy level for the following day, which our cells and especially neurons (intellectual use) and muscles (physical effort) shall consume;
- Regulation of all hormonal secretions, such as melatonin (sleep hormone) or growth hormone;
- Regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which takes action on sleep and good mood, or adrenaline, which is involved in stress;
- Memorizing or learning mechanisms by "sorting" out the day’s information, a process in which dreams occur (paradoxical sleep);
- Controlling many types of metabolisms such as blood sugar, which are involved in weight gain and obesity;
- Boosting the immune system.
What are the consequences of poor sleep in our daily life?
Influence of sleep on weight gain
After a poor night's sleep, you may have noticed that one really craves for fatty or sugary foods. This is explained through two mechanisms:
- Reduced brain activity in the brain’s frontal lobe (judgment center), and increased activity in the primitive lobes (reward center).
- poor regulation of ‘hunger’ hormones.
This explains the famous correlation between lack of sleep and weight gain. The risk of obesity in people sleeping less than 6 hours increases by 50% for men and 34% for women.
Impact of sleep on the development of diseases
Chronic lack of sleep increases heart risks by 48%, but also high blood pressure, cholesterol, or diabetes (28%).
This lowers life expectancy over time.
Moreover, the risk of infectious diseases increases: sleeping less than 7 hours increases the risk of catching a cold by 3 and by 5.5 in the event of sleep disorders.
Lack of concentration during the day
According to the American sleep specialist at Harvard Dr. Czeisle, sleeping 5 hours a night during the week is equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.1%.
This mainly leads to a decrease in vigilance or coordination.
Sleeping less than 6 hours per night has also been shown to increase the risk of traffic accidents by three-fold, due to drowsiness while driving, which is the main cause of motorway accidents.
Lack of concentration also has consequences at work or while studying, with an overall decline in physical and intellectual performance.
As explained above, sleep plays an important role in learning and memory. Lack of sleep therefore decreases "memory consolidation".
According to the American SLEEP Foundation, lack of sleep makes people sad and depressed, with a real loss of self-confidence. Sleep disturbances also lead to mood swings and irritability, affecting good social relationships. Your emotional response to stimuli becomes poorly controlled, disproportionate, or even inappropriate. You do not notice it… but those around you do: and they may not appreciate it.
What are some tips for better sleep?
Firstly, there are many factors at play: you need a balanced day (sports, diet), you should avoid stimulants late in the afternoon and evening, start your day with a morning exercise to wake up your muscles and mind and knowing that it is still possible to take a 20 minute nap, around 1 p.m.
At night, you should try identifying signs of falling asleep, set up a relaxation ritual and reduce contact of blue light which may come from your phone, laptop, television for example.
At the same time, there is no harm in using natural solutions for sleep, such as a soothing herbal tea or natural food supplements.
Generally speaking, combining several methods is wise: you should never look for a quick solution, but rather a sustainable solution for the long term.
A natural solution for sleeping - Neurofeedback
Among the natural solutions (e.g no side effects), Neurofeedback is a breakthrough solution for sleep, it is innovative in its principle: it does not treat the symptoms but directly the root cause of your sleep issues, literally teaching your brain how to sleep again.
Given the consequences of poor sleep on our health and everyday functioning, finding a sustainable solution for sleep, or even restoring your sleep with Neurofeedback sounds like a tempting solution. It's time to get a grip on your sleep, so wake up!