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Sleep: how much do we really need?

Our clock genes

We have a gene that releases a protein that builds up in cells overnight and gets broken down in the daytime. The clock gene is active in almost every cell type in the body and under circadian control.

Virtually every activity in our bodies - related to the blood, liver, kidneys and lungs as well as the secretion of hormones and body temperature - is influenced by the time of day they are normally needed.

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Sleep: how much do we really need?

Sleep: how much do we really need?

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/oct/08/sleep-how-much-do-we-really-need

theguardian.com

8

Key Ideas

Slow-wave sleep (deep sleep) – SWS

About 80% of our sleeping is of the SWS variety, identified by slow brain waves, relaxed muscles and deep breathing.

Deep sleep is important for the consolidation of memories. New experiences get moved to long-term storage and less important experiences from the previous day get cleared out.

Rapid eye movement (dreaming) - REM

Dreaming accounts for 20% of our sleeping time.

The length of dreams can vary from a few seconds to almost an hour. During REM sleep, the brain is highly active. The muscles are paralyzed, and the heart rate increases. Breathing can become erratic. 

Sleep quantity

Although eight hours is the common mention, optimum sleep can vary from person to person and from age to age.

One review that worked through 320 research articles concluded 7 - 9 hours of sleep are enough for adults. According to experts, too little or too much sleep can both have a negative impact on your health.

It matters when you sleep

Our bodies are synchronized with the day-night cycle as our planet rotates. Our circadian rhythms continue even in the absence of any external input. Even plants that are kept in a dark cupboard at a stable temperature open and close their leaves as though they can sense the sun.

Our clock genes

We have a gene that releases a protein that builds up in cells overnight and gets broken down in the daytime. The clock gene is active in almost every cell type in the body and under circadian control.

Virtually every activity in our bodies - related to the blood, liver, kidneys and lungs as well as the secretion of hormones and body temperature - is influenced by the time of day they are normally needed.

Anxiety about sleep problems

Poor sleeping habits are not a modern problem.

One study found tribes that don't have access to modern electrical devices to be prone to intermittent sleep. The main difference is that they do not have anxiety about their sleep patterns like western countries do.

Sleep deprivation

A day or two of sleep deprivation can cause healthy people to suffer hallucinations and physical symptoms.

Cognitive abilities are impaired after a poor night's sleep. Concentration and memory are affected, and people are more likely to be impulsive.

Physical health

Sleep deprivation has been shown to change the body’s basic metabolism and the balance between fat and muscle mass.

A review of existing studies found permanent night-shift workers were 29 % more likely to become overweight. They were also 41 % more at risk of a heart attack or stroke.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The Science of Sleep

The average adult spends 36 % (or about one-third) of his or her life asleep.

Purpose of Sleep:

  • Restoration
  • Memory Consolidation
  • Metabolic Health
Restoration

The first purpose of sleep is restoration.

Every day, your brain accumulates metabolic waste as it goes about its normal neural activities. Sleeping restores the brains healthy condition by removing these waste products. Accumulation of these waste products has been linked to many brain-related disorders.

Memory Consolidation

The second purpose of sleep is memory consolidation.

Sleep is crucial for memory consolidation, which is responsible for your long term memories. Insufficient or fragmented sleep can hamper your ability to remember facts and feelings/emotions.

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5 hours of sleep is enough

Habitual sleep deprivation is associated with diverse and far-reaching health effects and none of them is good.

Between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night are recommended. You can get used to l...

Watching Television before bed

Cellphones, tablets, and all kinds of personal electronics are not a good idea when you’re getting ready for bed.

Researchers have increasingly focused on “blue light” emitted by screens and its effect on sleep and negative sleep-related health outcomes.

It doesn’t matter when you sleep

Our bodies tend to follow a natural rhythm of wakefulness and sleep that is attuned to sunrise and sunset for a reason.

While some missed sleep here and there isn’t necessarily a big deal, shifting your sleep schedule long term isn’t healthy.

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Our sleep-wake pattern

Our molecular clock inside our cells aims to keep us in sync with the sun

When we disregard this circadian rhythm, we are at a greater risk for illnesses such as diabetes, heart...

The lifestyle imbalance

Thomas Edison said that sleep is "a bad habit." Like Edison, we seem to think of sleep as an adversary and try to fight it at every turn. The average American sleeps less than the recommended seven hours per night, mostly due to electric lights, television, computers, and smartphones. 

However, we are ignoring the intricate journey we're designed to take when we sleep.

Stage One Sleep

When we fall asleep, the nearly 86 billion neurons in our brain starts to fire evenly and rhythmically. Our sensory receptors become muffled at the same time.

The first stage of shallow sleep lasts for about 5 minutes.

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Snoring isn’t harmful

Although snoring may be harmless for most people, it can be a symptom of a life-threatening sleep disorder called sleep apnea, especially if it is accompanied by severe daytime sleepiness. 

You can "cheat" on sleep

Sleep experts say most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health, and safety. 

The resulting sleep deprivation has been linked to health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, negative mood and behavior, decreased productivity, and safety issues in the home, on the job, and on the road.

Turning up the radio

... opening the window, or turning on the air conditioner are effective ways to stay awake when driving.

These "aids" are ineffective and can be dangerous to the person who is driving while feeling drowsy or sleepy. 

It's best to pull off the road in a safe rest area and take a nap for 15-45 minutes. Caffeinated beverages can help overcome drowsiness for a short period of time. 

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The necessary amount of sleep
The necessary amount of sleep

Most adults function best after 7-9 hours of sleep a night.

When we get less than 7 hours, we’re impaired (to degrees that vary from person to person).  When sleep persistently fa...

Polyphasic sleeping

It's based on the idea that by partitioning your sleep into segments, you can get away with less of it.

Though it is possible to train oneself to sleep in spurts instead of a single nightly block, it does not seem possible to train oneself to need less sleep per 24-hour cycle.

Replacing sleep with caffeine

Caffeine works primarily by blocking the action of a chemical called adenosine, which slows down our neural activity, allowing us to relax, rest, and sleep.

By interfering with it, caffeine cuts the brake lines of the brain’s alertness system. Eventually, if we don’t allow our body to relax, the buzz turns to anxiety.

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How alcohol affects sleep

A lot of the symptoms associated with a hangover are a product of sleep deprivation.

Alcohol affects our ability to get into what is known as rapid eye movement (REM...

Eating before bed

It is important to leave at least a couple of hours between eating and sleeping. 

There is a whole raft of so-called sleepy foods – anything containing tryptophan, serotonin, melatonin, magnesium, calcium, potassium – often eaten in the hope they will aid sleep. 

If you do want to eat these foods, do it because it’s a nice ritual, not because you need it to sleep.

A cure for sleepwalking

There isn’t a cure. 

People who sleepwalk usually are advised to keep their room safe by locking windows and doors, and to maintain what’s called good sleep hygiene: keep to a regular sleep routine, turn mobile phones off, avoid stimulants, and so on. Sleepwalking can often occur as a result of poor or disrupted sleep.

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Dreams as therapists

Your dreams may be ways of confronting emotional dramas...

Fight-or-flight training

One of the areas of the brain that’s most active during dreaming is the amygdala - the part of the brain associated with the survival instinct and the fight-or-flight response.

One theory suggests dreams may be the brain’s way of getting you ready to deal with a threat. Fortunately, the brainstem sends out nerve signals during REM sleep that relax your muscles. That way you don’t try to run or punch in your sleep.

Dreams as your muse

One theory for why we dream is that it helps facilitate our creative tendencies. 

Without the logic filter, you might normally use in your waking life that can restrict your creative flow, your thoughts and ideas have no restrictions when you’re sleeping.

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The Sleep Sweet Spot
The Sleep Sweet Spot

The average Fitbit user:

  • Is in bed for 7hours, 33 minutes per night
  • Sleeps only 6 hours, 38 minutes
  • Spends 55 minutes in a restless or awake state...
The Gender Sleep Gap

Among Fitbit users:

  • Women get about 25 minutes more sleep on average.
  • Men get a slightly higher percentage of deep sleep than women until around age 55. Then women get more deep sleep.
  • Women get 10 more minutes per night REM sleep.
The Generational Divide

When it comes to Fitbit users:

  • Generation Z goes to sleep the latest, but they sleep longer.
  • Baby Boomers sleep the least, averaging 6 hours and 33 minutes per night.
  • REM and light sleep stay reasonably stable throughout a person's life.
  • Deep sleep decreases from 17 percent at age 20 to 12 percent at age 70.
Sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation

Willpower, memory, judgement, and attention all suffer when you are sleep deprived.

You drop things, crave junk food sugar, overeat, gain weight. You’re more irritable, negative, emotio...

Get through sleep deprivation:
  • Stabilize your blood sugar, by eating hearty food (protein and fat) more often.
  • Reduce refined carbs and increase fats and proteins.
  • B-complex vitamin supplements can give you an immediate boost in alertness and mental clarity.
  • Soak in an Epsom salt bath - might even help you get enough energy to exercise the next day.
  • Drink more water than you usually do to help compensate.
  • Exercise is the single best way to “take out the trash” in your body, and after staying up more hours than you should.
Creating a sleep-inducing environment
  • Turn the temperature between 60 and 72 degrees.
  • Turn off the lights. Artificial light suppresses your body’s production of the sleep hormone melat...