Sleep is one of the most important activities of our life. We spend a third of our life doing it and it is critical for enjoying the time when we are awake.
In a sense, sleep is like being in a relationship with our future self.
Each day, we know that we will fall asleep at some point in the future. This shapes our actions throughout the day, as we try to act and plan so that we can eventually shut our eyes, lay our heads down, and drift into unconsciousness.
But, many of us have a disrupted relationship with our future self. In this article, we will give a brief overview of some popular ways for sleep to go awry, focusing on sleep deprivation and some of the most popular sleep disorders.
Sleep deprivation includes not just occasional disruptions but prolonged periods of less than optimal sleep. While the exact number of optimal hours varies between people, the estimate of 7 to 9 hours is right for most.
Many people who claim that they can function on less than 7 hours are doing just that – merely functioning. The key to life is to not only survive, but to live and flourish.
Sleep Deprivation and Obesity
There is a growing body of research that is connecting consistent lack of sleep with diseases like obesity.
The idea is that our digestive system is able to regenerate and cleanse itself during sufficient sleep, and that without this period of restoration, it does not have enough energy to operate efficiently during the day.
Thus, our metabolism slows down and the food that we ate the previous day is never sufficiently digested, assimilated, and excreted. This results in nutritional deficiencies as well as an accumulation of foodstuff that is deposited as fat.
Sleep Deprivation and Exercise
Additionally, without sufficient sleep, we do not have energy to burn calories through exercise.
Yet, exercise is one of the best ways of inducing sleep. Thus, a vicious cycle results in which we can’t sleep, so we can’t exercise, which only makes it harder to sleep.
And of course, the longer we are awake, the more likely we are to eat, which drags obesity back into the picture.
Sleep Deprivation and Drugs
When you do not sleep enough hours each night, there can be an initial period of time in which we actually experience greater energy levels. This is because the body’s waking and sleeping states begin to meld together, and often times these liminal states of consciousness can put us in a state of awe.
Thus, in the beginning, sleep deprivation can imitate the ingestion of a stimulant, though eventually we come down off and experience considerable fatigue and imbalance.
Speaking of stimulants, substances like Coffee and amphetamines can also result in sleep deprivation, especially if they are taken too late in the day. For an optimal sleep routine, it’s best to avoid these substances altogether. If you must indulge in them, then you should do so only in the morning hours.
Sleep Deprivation and Sleep Disorders
Sleeping for less than 7 hours a night for an extended period of time might also raise your risk for developing various sleep disorders.
The National Sleep Foundation has identified the most popular sleep disorders that people experience, and some of these include Sleep Apnea, Sleepwalking, and REM Sleep Behavior Disorder.
The underlying causes of these afflictions are still unclear, as sleep science is still a young field. What’s significant about many of these disorders is that they often affect your significant other.
Thus, another vicious cycle happens in which one person’s sleep cycle compromises their partner’s sleep cycle, and vice versa, eventually resulting in a profound loss of health.
Our Final Thoughts on Sleep
We think that sleep is a fundamental part of a healthy lifestyle, and that when it is compromised in any way, it can be difficult to return to a state of order. We think that too much sleep is rarely a bad thing, and that many people in the world are sleep-deprived.
We think that if people got only an extra hour of sleep per night, that it could change the world.
Too many people are convinced that sleep should be secondary to the amenities of modern existence. But, at the very least, sleep is just as important as waking.
Feature image via doctoroz