Remember when we were young we never used to miss out on our evening naps. Come back from school, eat lunch, sleep, and then go out to play. Turns out as we grow older following this simple yet effective routine becomes harder and harder for us. There’s no denying that various things have to be taken care of as we mature. But that shouldn’t excuse us from looking after our bodies. We tend to underestimate the importance of sleep. It’s becoming less of a priority.
On average children should sleep for 9-10 hours, teens for 7-8 hours, and adults for 6-7 hours. The circadian rhythm is an internal clock in the human body that regulates when one should be sleeping or be alert. It functions properly if we are waking and sleeping at the same time.
Importance of sleeping
A lot of essential activities happen while we are sleeping. During sleep, our immune system releases proteins called cytokines and our body replenishes which why we should be aware of the importance of sleep. The creation of infection-fighting antibodies also occurs at night. Further, sleeping is important for effective immune responses like detection and removal of disease-causing harmful cells.
The immune cells also called the T cells are found in the bone marrow and mature from the thymus hence the name T cells. They are an important component of immune responses. T cells fight against the virus-infected cells. In order to act on the infected cells, they have to be in direct contact with them. This contact is facilitated by integrins. Once the T cells recognize the pathogenic bacteria, integrins are produced. This is a sticky Protein which attaches itself to the infected cells and destroys it. How effective the working of T-cells would be is directly proportional to sleep. More the sleep, more T-cells integrin activation will take place.
Impact of Lack of sleep
If you don’t understand the importance of sleep and not sleeping for enough hours affects us physically, biologically, emotionally, and mentally. Lack of sleep increases the chances of getting sick as the immune system is affected. The efficiency of all the mechanisms declines as we continue sleeping for fewer hours. More importantly, lack of sleep increases the risk of diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart, and vascular diseases. Chronic sleep loss can even make flu vaccines less effective. Not sleeping for enough hours not only raises the odds of inviting more health risks but also degrades the body’s natural fighting immune mechanism.
Long term poor sleep increases inflammation, blood pressure, insulin resistance, cortisol levels, weight gain, cardiovascular diseases, etc.
Emotionally, the lack of sleep promotes a Lack of motivation in a person. The hormonal imbalances are such that the person adopts a negative outlook for everything. This also causes binge eating. Sleep loss makes it difficult to perform very simple tasks which leads to frustration. It is observed that children and young adults are most vulnerable to sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep causes fatigue, inactiveness, depression, anxiety, Paranoia, etc. Our reasoning skills also get affected. Poor sleep gives way to poor job performance, workers conflict, reduced quality of life.
The right way to sleep
Quite simply, in order to peacefully sleep all you need is a pillow, bed, and blanket. However, it would be better to sleep in a clean and darkroom as the mind easily transitions into sleeping mode. Try to regain the lost sleep by taking naps. Also, switch off electronic devices one hour before going to bed to avoid exposure to Blue light.
Most of us make a to-do-list for our important daily activities and including sleeping for adequate hours would be a great start towards taking care of our body.