While the saying that “He who sleeps does not catch fish” is true, he who does not sleep also risks serious consequences for their physical and mental health.
In the frenzy of every day, we often find ourselves having to juggle a thousand activities and commitments: work, home, family, friends, hobbies. Instead, let’s take advantage of the evening hours to finally allow ourselves some time for ourselves: a movie on TV and then, maybe, a last look at our favorite social network.
And here comes midnight, or even beyond. The evening passed almost without realizing it and we begin to think that in a few hours the alarm will sound again.
If, therefore, we are used to sleeping a few hours a night, or in any case less than the recommended 7/8 hours of sleep, it is better to review the habits. In this regard, it is known that the ideal duration of sleep is at least 8 hours.
American Randy Gardner holds the record for the longest period of intentional sleeplessness, scientifically documented. Without the help of stimulants, he was able to stay awake for 264.4 hours (or 11 days and 24 minutes). Part of his motivation for this feat was to prove that little sleep is not bad.
Instead, he was really wrong: sleeping a little is very bad!
These are some of the effects on day 11: confusion and disorientation, sudden mood swings, irascibility, hallucinations, temporary loss of identity, difficulty in pronouncing a tongue twister, fewer reflexes, memory lapses, difficulty in focusing on objects, visual problems with too bright colors.
What happens to our body when we don’t get enough sleep?
According to a recent study, 25% of those who sleep less than 7/8 hours a night begin, over time, to suffer from:
- Headache. Those who get a bad night’s sleep may suffer from migraines the next day. Typically, the pain is concentrated on one side of the skull. So, at the next discomfort, before immediately resorting to drugs, it is good to ask yourself a few questions about the quality of sleep. In addition, going to bed earlier and avoiding using electronic devices in the evening certainly helps to reduce these disturbances.
- Memory problems. A mind that does not rest well is also a mind that does not work well. In fact, sleep is a fundamental step that allows us to consolidate the memories of what happened in the past day in our brain. In addition, sleeping well and having a more responsive brain allows you to access stored information faster. Finally, sleep also allows us to eliminate superfluous information and useless memories, thus making room for new notions.
- Intestinal disorders. Sleeping poorly and poorly also seems to increase the chances of developing chronic inflammatory bowel disease or, in any case, worsening acid reflux symptoms. Another small trick is to sleep on the left side: in this position, in fact, food flows naturally through the stomach and pancreatic enzymes are gradually secreted.
Obesity. If you are wondering if sleeping a little makes you fat or lose weight, you should know that resting little alters the hormonal balance that regulates the stimulus of hunger. Those who sleep little and badly, in fact, feel more than others the desire to consume particularly caloric foods, such as sweets, processed, fatty or salty foods. When there is a lack of sleep, the preference falls on sandwiches, desserts, pizzas and junk food in general. The reason is not only related to the throat, but it is a physical need: there are more and more studies that show how our brain, sleeping little, is led to induce the body to require more food than necessary, pushing us to prefer fatty foods and caloric.
Premature aging. Loss of shine of the skin, enlarged pores, dark circles and more noticeable wrinkles: these are just some of the consequences that a lack of sleep can bring to the face. In fact, it is enough to reduce the time spent sleeping by two hours, i.e. passing from the recommended 8 hours of sleep to 6, and the skin begins to age quickly. Not getting enough sleep can compromise your appearance, make wrinkles worse, swell your eyes and make dark circles more noticeable. The body releases an increase in cortisol levels which breaks down skin collagen and elastin – the protein fibers that keep skin smooth and supple.
Cold and lowering of the immune system. Those who sleep little are more likely (about four times more) to get sick than those who sleep seven hours a night. Sleep plays a very important role in the regulation of T lymphocytes, white blood cells essential for the immune response.
A recent study shows a concrete link between sleep and the immune system. The research followed 53 people for two weeks, measuring their hours and sleep quality. Exposed to influenza viruses, subjects who had slept less than 7 hours a night showed a 3 times higher risk of contracting the disease than those who had enjoyed longer and more peaceful rests.
Sleeping little: 10 tips, rules and lifestyles to reduce insomnia
Insomnia is a very common disorder consisting of the inability to fall asleep or the subversion of normal sleep patterns. It is often caused by stress (in the workplace), depression, abuse of exciting substances, physical pain, allergies, environmental disturbances and jet lag.
How to reduce it?
Here are some precautions, rules and lifestyles that, if applied daily, help you spend a peaceful night, helping you to avoid the negative consequences of little sleep:
- Go to sleep and get up at the same time, even on weekends this regardless of how much you slept at night.
- If you wake up earlier, get out of bed and start your day.
- Try to relax as much as possible before going to bed, for example by taking a bath.
- If you are unable to sleep, it is best to get up and engage in relaxing activities, such as watching television or reading a book.
- Sleeping in a bedroom protected as much as possible from noise, on a comfortable bed, on a good mattress (with proper support for the spine), and with a pillow suitable for the very personal cervical curvature.
- Sleeping in a healthy environment: no televisions, cell phones, tablets, computers. The room temperature must be below 18 ° C: this favors a good rest, because breathing in the cold is more fluid and the body relaxes more than in a too hot environment.
- Eat at regular times, avoiding large meals around sleep.
- Engage in physical activity regularly throughout the day.
- Before going to sleep, treat yourself to a relaxing herbal tea. The hot drink “pampers” the stomach and relaxes it, is beneficial for the whole body and warms the soul.
- Reading a good book in the evening is a pleasant accompaniment to sleep. It is certainly preferable to the television or to the use of electronic instruments which, due to electromagnetic waves, awaken and stimulate our brain waves, making it difficult to fall asleep peacefully.