“It’s okay that I don’t get enough sleep, no,” many people think this way or something like this. Alas, these arguments cannot be called correct. Recently, scientists have discovered that chronic sleep deprivation can pose a serious threat to human life.
Doctors are increasingly "sounding the alarm." It turns out that, according to statistics, we sleep on average one and a half hours less than our ancestors at the beginning of the last century, and often do it quite voluntarily.
Eva Van Kauter, a professor at the University of Chicago Medical Center, argues that people not only began to sleep less, but also ceased to measure their sleep with seasonal fluctuations in the length of day and night: “We live in an artificial world with a distorted daylight hours, isolated not only from night darkness, but also (not so noticeable) from natural daylight, since many of us spend our working day indoors. Those who work on a staggered schedule suffer the most: among them, the rate of gastrointestinal and cardiovascular diseases, as well as depression and infertility, is especially high.”
Scientists note that our cells store the memory that light, even artificial, has the ability to influence the biological clock. Those who, for some objective or subjective reasons, try to stay up as long as possible, ignore the onset of bionight. But after all, the clock that we want to deceive is our own internal clock, innate daily rhythms.
American professor of psychology Nathaniel Kleitman, who devoted his entire research activity to the study of the phenomenon of sleep, is known as the "father of modern sleep research." According to him, sleep is "the periodic temporary cessation or interruption of the state of wakefulness, which is the main mode of existence of healthy adults." From this definition, we can conclude that sleep is a kind of deviation from the main way of human existence, and, therefore, something negative and useless. But it is difficult to agree with this definition.
Sleep is directly related to the body's immune system, and lack of sleep threatens to destroy immune blood cells, according to American doctors. A group of healthy people had only one night of reduced sleep time, and the number of cells that defeat a viral infection decreased by 30%. It stayed that way until the subjects got enough sleep.
So sleep cannot be something "negative and useless." This is also confirmed by medical studies on age-related sleep disorders.
As the aging process progresses, sleep becomes disrupted, among other things. Eva Van Cauter explains:
“Over the years, we lose the ability to sleep deeply, sleep becomes more superficial. The depth of sleep is associated with the production of growth hormone and prolactin. In older people, after about 70 years of age, the duration of deep sleep can be reduced to zero, as well as the production of growth hormone.”
The role of prolactin has not yet been studied much (it is mainly known that it is responsible for the formation of casein, the main protein contained in breast milk), and growth hormone in humans determines the ratio of fat and muscle mass in the body, and also affects bone composition and immunity and other functions.
“I think,” says Van Kauter, “it is not unreasonable to assume that many of the phenomena of aging, including senile depression, are ultimately due to lack of sleep. In other words, we all need healthy infant sleep.”
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