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Best Things You Should Know About Sleep Deprivation

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Researchers are discovering that what William Shakespeare wrote is true: “We are of the same stuff as dreams and our little life is complete with sleep.” The study of sleep has made great strides in recent decades, and we are better understanding the scientific value of a good night’s rest. Humans spend 36% of our lives sleeping, and the latest research explains why getting enough sleep is essential to our physical and mental health for the other 64%.

The National Sleep Foundation is celebrating its Annual Sleep Awareness Week© March 6-13, raising awareness of the health benefits of sleep and its importance to safety and productivity. We’ve put together a list of the most important things you need to know about sleep.

Here is the list of the best things to know about sleep deprivation

Sleep cleanses your brain

A mouse study suggests that sleep helps the brain regenerate by flushing out toxins that build up during waking hours. The results point to a possible new role for sleep in health and disease. Scientists and philosophers have long wondered why people sleep and how it affects the brain. Sleep is important for storing memories. It also has a restorative function.

Lack of sleep hinders reasoning, problem solving, and attention to detail, among other things. However, the mechanisms behind these benefits of sleep are unknown. dr Maiken Nedergaard and her colleagues at the University of Rochester Medical Center recently discovered a system that drains waste products from the brain. Cerebrospinal fluid, a clear fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, moves through the brain along a series of channels that surround blood vessels.

Sleep drives away colds

The viruses that cause the common cold are always on the prowl. But think about this: Even if we touch a doorknob or keyboard covered in bacteria from an infected person’s cold, we don’t always catch a cold. “Sometimes when we’re exposed to viruses, we don’t end up getting sick,” said Aric Prather, a psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who studies how our behavior can affect our health.

Our immune system often fights the viruses that cause colds. But the way our bodies set up these defenses can vary. Prather wanted to document how protective a good night’s sleep is. So he and a group of colleagues recruited 164 healthy men and women (their average age was 30) to participate in a study. Using sleep diaries and a Fitbit-like device, the researchers assessed each participant’s sleep over a week.

Drowsy driving causes 100,000 accidents, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths each year

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2005 Sleep in America survey, 60% of adult drivers (about 168 million people) say they have driven a vehicle in the past year while feeling sleepy, and more than one-third (37 % or 103 million people) people), have fallen asleep at the wheel! The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes each year are the direct result of driver fatigue.

This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses. Based on data from Australia, England, Finland and other European countries, all of which have more consistent crash reporting procedures than the US, drowsy driving accounts for 10 to 30 percent of all crashes. The prevalence of sleep-related accidents varies from country to country. Driver drowsiness accounts for between 1.5% (in the US) and more than 30% (on UK roads) of crashes, and up to 40% of fatal crashes on New Zealand state roads. York (Rayner, Flatley and Horne).

Immune system

While you sleep, your immune system produces protective substances that fight infection, such as antibodies and cytokines. It uses these substances to fight foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. Certain cytokines also help you sleep, giving your immune system greater efficiency in defending your body against disease. Sleep deprivation prevents your immune system from getting stronger. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body may not be able to fight off invaders, and it may also take longer to recover from illness.

Some parts of your brain stay awake

You can think of sleep as the negative time of your day when nothing is getting done on your to-do list. His brain and various other systems in his body see it very differently. “His brain is actually very active during sleep and doing important things, not just resting,” says Carl W. Bazil, MD, PhD, Caitlin Tynan Doyle Professor of Neurology at Columbia University Medical Center. “And if you’re not sleeping, you’re not functioning as you should on a number of levels.”

Digestive system

In addition to overeating and not exercising, lack of sleep is another risk factor for overweight and obesity. Sleep affects the levels of two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which control feelings of hunger and satiety. Leptin tells your brain that you’ve had enough to eat. Without getting enough sleep, your brain decreases leptin and increases ghrelin, which is an appetite stimulant.

The flow of these hormones can explain late-night snacking or why someone overeats later in the evening. Lack of sleep can also make you feel too tired to exercise. Over time, reduced physical activity can cause you to gain weight because you’re not burning enough calories and not building muscle mass. Lack of sleep also causes your body to release less insulin after you eat. Insulin helps lower blood sugar (glucose) levels.

2-3% of children have sleep apnea

Sleep apnea in children is a sleep disorder that causes children to have pauses in their breathing while they sleep. Two types of sleep apnea affect children: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea (central sleep apnea). Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage in the back of the throat or nose. The other type, central apnea, occurs when the part of the brain responsible for breathing doesn’t work properly.

It does not send the respiratory muscles the normal signals to breathe. One difference between the two types of sleep apnea is the frequency of snoring. Snoring can occur in central apnea but is more prominent in obstructive sleep apnea. This is because snoring is related to airway obstruction. Between 7 and 11 percent of children have a nighttime breathing disorder, whether it’s sleep apnea, snoring, or something else. About 90 percent of them may go undiagnosed.

Sleep problems are linked to infertility

Sleep and sleep disorders are increasingly recognized as determinants of women’s health and well-being, particularly in the context of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause. At present, however, little is known about whether fertility is affected by the amount and quality of sleep. That is, to what extent and by what mechanisms do sleep and/or its alterations affect fertility?

The purpose of this review is to synthesize what is known about sleep disorders in relation to reproductive capacity. A model is provided, whereby stress, sleep dysregulation, and circadian misalignment are delineated for their potential relevance to infertility. Ultimately, if it turns out that sleep disturbance is associated with infertility, new avenues for clinical intervention may be possible. Copyright 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Diet can disrupt your sleep

It’s no secret that both diet and sleep play critical roles in our health, but the complex and important relationships between the two are often overlooked. Diet and nutrition can affect the quality of your sleep, and certain foods and drinks can make it easier or more difficult to get the sleep you need.

At the same time, getting enough sleep is associated with maintaining a healthier body weight and may be beneficial for those trying to lose weight. Recognizing the links between sleep and nutrition creates opportunities to optimize for both eating smarter, sleeping better, and living a healthier life.

Sleep Extremes Can Gain Weight

Not only can your diet sabotage your sleep time, but sleeping less than five hours or more than nine hours a night can increase your risk of weight gain. Studies show that regular sleep deprivation increases cravings for high-calorie, high-carbohydrate foods.

The amount of sleep you get affects the hormones that regulate hunger and stimulate appetite, so if you don’t get enough rest, you may start to eat more. Lack of sleep also leads to fatigue, which often results in decreased physical activity.

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Amy Hinckley
The Dell Inspiron 15 that her father purchased from QVC sparked the beginning of her interest in technology. At Bollyinside, Amy Hinckley is in charge of content editing. Emma's interests outside of working include going for bike rides, playing video games, and watching football when she's not at her laptop.


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