It used to be thought that sleep has no meaning to humans and is merely an interruption to the daily routine. Today, numerous scientific studies have shown that sleep is vital to the body and psyche.
What is sleep actually?
Sleep is far from being, as was long supposed, a purely passive activity. While parts of the body work "on the back burner" during sleep, others are extremely active. During sleep the circulation, respiration and pulse are slowed down. The body reacts weaker to external stimuli. At the same time, important construction and dismantling processes take place during sleep. Our brain works at its best and processes the experiences of the day. Most people only worry about sleep when disturbed. Not unfairly, because long-lasting sleep disorders lead to health and mental disorders.
Explore sleep ...
The processes in sleep and thus the knowledge about the importance of sleep for our health has only been explored more intensively in the last decades. Much is still unknown. The researchers agree that sleep is an indispensable basis for development, well-being and health. This is confirmed by a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights. "Healthy sleep is a human right." - judges ruled, citing a Spaniard who was disturbed for decades by nocturnal disco noise.
Working in alternation of day and night
When man's work depended on daylight, they slept until dawn. When the sun went down, they went to bed. 100 years ago, Thomas Alva Edison invented the electric light bulb and now it was also possible to work in the evening and at night. Sleep was increasingly regarded as a superfluous thing, especially since at that time very little was known about sleep. The result is that man has increasingly lost the sense of the internal clock in the body.
Sleep and rest
Sleep is not a uniform process. During sleep, we go through different levels of sleep that alternate over the course of the night. Important for rest in sleep are two phases:
- In deep sleep, the body recovers. Here important building blocks are formed, which are important for the preservation and repair of our organs. Sufficient sleep slows down aging processes.
- In the so-called dream phase (also called REM phase), the mental recovery takes place.
Absent the REM phases, this has far-reaching effects. Subjects awakened in the sleep laboratory at every stage of the REM showed psychological effects such as depressive and aggressive moods after just two days. The REM sleep deprivation extended over several weeks, appeared anxiety and even severe psychosis. For a healthy sleep, a sufficiently long sleep with deep sleep and REM phases is important. If the sleep profile is disturbed or the sleep duration significantly shortened, sleep loses its restorative function.
Sleep and illnesses
A lack of "staple food" Sleep is associated with the risk of mental illness and the risk of physical illness. Sleep disorders promote inflammation in the body, which in turn causes arteriosclerosis. Consequences of missing or disturbed sleep can also be headaches, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal disorders. Chronic sleep disorders can also lead to insulin resistance and impaired glucose tolerance - factors that promote diabetes.
Sleep and learning
The brain is more active in sleep than when awake. Not only learned things are anchored in the memory. Even experiences of the day are evaluated and unconsciously assigned to our experiences. Constant sleep deprivation reduces memory. Tests in which subjects had to learn vocabulary and were asked about different sleep duration confirmed this. Sleep is not only helpful for learning, it is even necessary for it.
Sleep and immune system
Our immune system works at full speed while sleeping. During sleep, a large number of immuno-active substances are secreted that increase the immune system. Infections can best be combated this way. A lack of sleep resulted in studies after six days to a reduced antibody response. Conversely, sleep is stimulated by infections. Everyone knows that: as soon as we feel the flu, we get tired. In addition, there is an increase in natural killer cells and scavenger activity during sleep. Our immune system, therefore, makes us tired so that the sleep-induced immune activity can work.
Sleep and hunger
At night we spend eight and more hours without food. The reason: During sleep, the appetite-inhibiting hormone leptin is released. In the waking state then takes the opponent - the hormone ghrelin - again in control and we get hungry again. In chronic sleep deprivation this balance is disturbed. The appetite-stimulating hormones are increasingly released. People with chronic sleep disorders have a higher body weight for their height. Everyone who has to pay attention to his weight should therefore also attach importance to sufficient sleep.
Sleep is good and healthy
Even as daily demands steadily increase, the body needs sleep to regenerate. The impact of lack of sleep on our physical and mental performance and health can not be underestimated. Therefore, in insomnia always the causes should be clarified by a doctor. Frequently, simple measures to help you get back to a healthy sleep help. With prolonged sleep disturbances, it can make sense to break the cycle of insomnia and restlessness the next day. Here are soothing sleep aids. Your pharmacy will be happy to advise you in choosing the appropriate sleeping aid for you.