Why You Should Sleep More in this Modern Society
The modern life and all its demands cause us humans to have less and less hours to sleep. This trend of lack of sleep has become endemic and is now even considered a “normal phenomenon”. Professor Matthew Walker, director and founder of the Center for Human Sleep Science in the University of California, Berkley has described such lifestyle to have detrimental effects to the body and is associated with many chronic diseases.
According to the Journal of the National Sleep Foundation, humans in this era has 20% less sleep compared to humans that lived 100 years ago. The deficiency of sleep duration affects the body through biochemical and biological processes that in the end effects organ function. Though that is the case, modern society does not take the phenomena seriously. Modern society even looks at “sleep” as being lazy. Social media, smart phones, laptops, noise pollution, coffee, alcohol, anxiety, social pressure and cities that are full of wired electricity contribute to modern society lacking proper rest and sleep.
The WHO has even stated that jobs with night shifts are categorized as carcinogens (things that contribute to cancer in the human body). According to the latest studies, when the body lacks sleep, the production of white blood cells, specifically the T-Cells which fights off microbacterium will decrease, and hence the function of the immune system will also worsen.
Lack of sleep also contributes to chronic diseases namely chronic heart disease. Studies have shown that when an adult sleeps less than six hours, there is an increase of “inflammatory cells” and “inflammatory markers” (C-Reactive Protein). The increase of inflammatory cells and markers parallels the inflammation processes in your body. Slow and steady inflammation in the body contributes to the narrowing of blood vessels in your body. Narrowed blood vessels lead to an increase in blood pressure and causes hypertension. Narrowed blood vessels and hypertension both contribute to coronary heart diseases and chronic heart conditions.
Other problems that may arise due to sleep disorders:
How Much Sleep Do we Need
- Mood Disorders
- Problems with concentration and cognitive function (process of thinking)
- Memory Problems
- Increase in body weight
According to Susan Zafarlotfi, Ph.D, Clinical Director in the Institute for Sleep and Wake Disorders in the Faculty of Medicine in the University of Hackensack, New Jersey, every individual needs different sleep durations. Individuals that have a strong immune system do not easily get sleepy though they have a packed schedule. On the other hand, other individuals may easily get a respiratory tract infection when they lack sleep. Looking at the spectrum, scientists claim that the ideal sleep time to 7-8 hours for optimal health.
The Phases of Sleep
Basically, sleep has 2 phases: Non-REM and REM phase, where REM stands for rapid eye movement. Non-REM sleep contains 5 main phases.
- First Phase: this is when we lay our bodies down and close our eyes. Our muscles start to relax. In this phase, we are still easily wakened up by stimuli like light, sound, and movement.
- Second Phase: this is when we “fall asleep”, and we start to be unaware of movement or noise. Our eye movements start to slow down and the body temperature starts to decrease. Heart rates and our breathing is still regular. Our brain waves start to slow down though sometimes there is still a spike of brain waves.
- Third Phase: This is the beginning of deep sleep. When recorded by an electroencephalogram (electrodes stuck to your head to record brain waves), the third phase of sleep is marked by slow brain waves, and little amount of sporadic of brain wave peaks. Breathing starts to slow down and our breathing muscles start to relax. During this phase, it is hard to be wakened up. In children, this is the phase that bed-wetting happens.
- Fourth Phase: this phase is where the real deep sleep happens and is extremely hard to wake up in this phase. Brain waves are slow and there are no sporadic spikes. The body starts to recover from all of the stress during the day. This is the phase when growth hormone is also released from your body.
- REM Phase/The Fifth Phase: this is the phase when we dream. Rapid eyeball movement, an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, and an increase in breathing rate marks the fifth phase. In this phase, our body is basically paralyzed except our breathing muscles and the muscles that move our eyeballs (extraocular muscles). It is important that our body is actually temporarily “paralyzed” or else we would be doing all the movements that we are doing in our dreams. When we are awakened or our REM sleep is disturbed, we will wake up in a bad mood and might even feel even more tired than before we sleep.
Knowing how vital sleep is to our bodily functions, here are a few tips to improve your sleep schedule:
- Go to the bedroom 30 minutes before your sleep time.
- Turn off light sources, television screens, computers and cell phones.
- Avoid caffeine after lunch hours.
- Avoid consumption of sugars after dinnertime.
- Regular exercise
By improving our sleep pattern, we will indirectly improve our physical and mental quality and health. We will see and improvement in our work life and our social life also!