Sleep – basic need and elixir of life

Sleep - basic need and elixir of life

In the past, it was assumed that sleep was not of essential importance for humans and was merely an interruption in the daily routine. Today, we know from numerous scientific studies that sleep is vital for the body and the psyche.

What is sleep?

Sleep is far from being a purely passive activity, as has long been assumed. While parts of the bodywork are “on the back burner” during sleep, others are highly active. During sleep, circulation, breathing, and heart rate slow down. The body reacts weaker to external stimuli. At the same time, significant building and breaking down processes take place during sleep. Our brain works at peak performance and processes the experiences of the day. Most people only worry about sleep when it is disturbed. Not without reason, because long-lasting sleep disorders lead to health and mental disorders.

 

Explore sleep…

The processes during sleep and thus the knowledge of the importance of sleep for our health have only been researched more intensively in the last few decades. Much is still unknown. Scientists agree that sleep is indispensable for development, well-being and health. A judgment of the European Court of Human Rights confirms this. “Healthy sleep is a human right.” – this is how the judges ruled and thus agreed with a Spaniard who had felt disturbed by nightly disco noise for decades.

Working day and night alternately

When man’s work depended on daylight, they slept until sunrise. When the sun went down again, they went to bed. One hundred years ago, Thomas Alva Edison invented the electric light bulb, and now it was possible to work in the evening and at night. Sleep was increasingly viewed as something extra, primarily since very little was known about sleep at the time. The result is that people have increasingly lost the sense of the internal clock in the body.

 

sleep and rest

Sleep is not a uniform process. We go through sleep phases of different depths, which alternate repeatedly during the night. Two phases are essential for recovery during sleep:

  • In deep sleep, the body recovers. Essential building blocks that are important for maintaining and repairing our organs are formed here. Sufficiently long sleep slows down the ageing process.
  • In the so-called dream phase (REM phase), mental recovery occurs.

If the REM phases are missing, this has far-reaching effects. Test persons who were woken up in the sleep laboratory in each REM phase showed psychological effects such as depressive and aggressive moods after just two days. If the REM sleep deprivation is extended over several weeks, anxiety and even severe psychosis occur. A sufficiently long sleep with deep sleep and REM phases is essential for healthy sleep. If the sleep profile is disturbed or the sleep duration is significantly reduced, sleep loses its vital function.

sleep and illness

A lack of “basic food” sleep is associated not only with the risk of psychological problems but also with the risk of physical illnesses. Sleep disorders promote inflammation in the body, which is the reason for arteriosclerosis. Consequences of missing or disturbed sleep can also be headacheshigh blood pressure, and gastrointestinal disorders. Chronic sleep disorders can also lead to insulin resistance and impaired glucose tolerance – factors that promote diabetes.

sleep and study

The brain is more active during sleep than when awake. Not only is what has been learned anchored in the memory but Experiences of the day are also evaluated and unconsciously assigned to our experiences. Constant lack of sleep reduces memory performance. Tests in which subjects had to learn vocabulary and were asked about different sleep durations have 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 when we sleep. During sleep, many immune-active substances are released, which increase the immune system. This is the best way to combat infections. Studies showed that a lack of sleep reduced antibody response after just six days. Conversely, sleep is stimulated during infections. Everyone knows this: when we feel the flu, we get tired. During sleep, there is also an increase in natural killer cells and scavenger cell activity. Our immune system makes us tired, so the increased immune activity caused by sleep can take effect.

sleep and hunger

At night, we can go for eight or more hours without eating because the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin is released during sleep. When we are awake, the opponent – the hormone ghrelin – retakes control, and we get hungry again. With chronic sleep deprivation, this balance is disrupted. The appetite-stimulating hormones are increasingly released. People with chronic insomnia have a higher body weight for their height. Therefore, anyone who has to watch their weight should also attach importance to adequate sleep.

Sleep is good and healthy.

Even if the daily demands constantly increase, the body needs sleep to regenerate. The impact of lack of sleep on our physical and mental performance and maintaining our health cannot be underestimated. Therefore, the causes of insomnia should always be clarified by a doctor. Simple measures often help to find a healthy sleep again. In the case of prolonged insomnia, it can make sense to break the cycle of insomnia and restlessness the next day. This is where calming sleep aids come in handy. Your pharmacy will happily advise you on selecting the right sleeping aid.

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