We live in an era where we have intentionally or unintentionally, started to determine and regulate our days and nights ourselves. It may not sound alarming, rather advantageous and a technological blessing, but a subtle change in our natural sleeping hours can greatly affect the biological clock of our body.
Our body manages sleep similar to the way it manages breathing, eating, and drinking, emphasizing the importance of its critical role in our health and well-being. Crucial bodily functions, such as tissue repair, muscle growth, and protein synthesis especially occur during sleep. 70-75% of human growth hormone is only secreted when we are asleep. A number of hormones involved in controlling metabolism, appetite regulation, and stress response are regulated during sleep. Improved immunity is closely related to an adequate sleep. Enough sleep ensures the production of cytokines, thus increasing our ability to resist infection. Read More.
Cognitive function and memory are also dependent on our circadian cycle. Sleeping improves our brain function by strengthening the neural network that is responsible for all the sensory input and output and helps us to remain alert and responsive in any situation.
Generally, a sleep of 6 to8 hours per night is an ideal duration. Any more or less is not advisable because it increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, poor mental health, and even early mortality. Researches have shown that less than 5 1/2 hours of sleep is related to some degree of increased mortality. Also, sleeping beyond 9 to 10 hours per night is associated with noticeably increased mortality.
Being the only ones among all the living organisms to willfully change our circadian rhythm, we have adopted a lifestyle that neglects the importance of a quality sleep. Disturbed sleeping cycle results in a number of chronic illnesses including:
Poor immune response
Increased risk of heart stroke
Increased risk of type-2 diabetes
Reduced memory leading to dementia
Poor cognitive function
Obstructive sleep apnea
Lack of sleep not only has adverse effects on our health but has also been held responsible for many tragic accidents involving automobiles, trains, ships, air-crafts, construction sites, and nuclear power plants. Doctors not being able to get enough sleep due to work overload causes approximately 50,000 to 100,000 accidental deaths of patients each year.
Mostly teenagers and adults intentionally disrupt their sleeping habits. Others may not get enough sleep due to work shifts, demanding jobs, or family issues. A number of valid reasons can cause sleep loss but purposely becoming sleep-deprived is a serious issue that requires urgent mass awareness.