Sleep to Maintain Sanity!
We are all aware that an average person needs about 7-8 hours of sleep. Going any time below that could give a person many bad effects in the long run. I had a good sleeping pattern when I was younger around my teen years. Now, my sleep routine is a wreck. I either sleep the whole day, or I don’t sleep at all. Most of my nights have become the time I reflect on the decisions I made ages back, and I’m pretty sure everybody would agree. It’s almost like the (supposedly) peaceful time is the best time for something un-peaceful to pay a visit.
What does lack of sleep do to our body?
Here’s the thing, it affects us not only physically, but mentally and emotionally too.
1. Memory issues
When we sleep, our brain rests from all kinds of thoughts and activities, forming connections that help us process and remember new information. This is also why babies sleep a lot as their cells are new and rapidly growing at that phase. Lack of sleep can negatively impact both short-term and long-term memories of a person as that time of rest is where the cells repair and actively connect. When it is not given the chance to do so, things turn against us. So, the next time you study for an exam, don’t stay up late and give your brain the rest it needs to start fresh the next day. When I discovered this information, I killed my habit of late-night studying completely. The results turned out pretty great. I could focus more and remember things better as compared to the times I forced my brain at night to stay awake by inducing caffeine.
2. Mood changes
Besides that, sleep deprivation is also the main cause of mood changes especially among teenagers who have their hormones all over the place. Sleep deprivation can make you moody, emotional, and quick-tempered. Your teenage son is behaving badly? Temper issues? Check his sleep schedule. Personally, if I don’t get enough sleep, I’ll be snapping at everyone in my way. As I was so used to studying late at night, my friends knew better than to talk to me the whole period before and after the exam till I go home and get a good sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation may lead to anxiety and depression too.
3. Affects Immune System
Our immune system is the body's guard; it helps us fight the bad bacterias, viruses, and other harmful substances present in our body. People who don't get enough sleep are more vulnerable to sickness and viruses. Lack of sleep also affects the rate of recovery every time we get sick. Ever wondered why people who are sick sleep more? When we sleep, our body's immune system releases a certain protein that also promotes sleep. These proteins are important for stress and inflammation. Some other proteins released are important to fight infections. Sleep deprivation actually reduces the production of these proteins which directly makes us less armed during the bad days.
Have You Heard of the Russian Sleep Experiment?
Let me tell you a story about the Russian Sleep Experiment. This experiment was conducted by Russian researchers in late 1940 by keeping five prisoners (enemies of the state during World War 2) awake in a chamber for 30 days using an experimental gas-based stimulant. This was before closed-circuit cameras were invented and all they had was microphoned one-way glass windows to monitor the prisoners. This chamber was stocked with books, cots to sleep on without bedding, running water, and toilet. The prisoners were also provided with enough dried food to last all five for over 30 days.
The first few days went well with the prisoners communicating with each other. They were promised falsely to be freed if they obeyed the instruction and not sleep for 30 days. For four days, the prisoners were exchanging stories of incidents of their traumatic pasts during the World War. The tone of their conversation darkened as the days passed and were suspicious on the 4th day.
The situation tensed on the 5th day when the prisoners stopped communicating with each other and began complaining of their state and reasons for being there. They started whispering nasty things against one another to the microphone in the hope to turn the favor of the scientists and accuse each other.
Four more days passed when one of the prisoners began screaming at the top of his lungs as he ran the length of the chamber with his voice breaking every minute for three hours. Even more surprising was the reaction of the other prisoners- who did not react at all! Few hours passed till the second prisoner started screaming. The other three were calm, still whispering and occasionally tearing the books supplied to them page by page, smearing them with their own feces and calmly pasting it on the windows. Then everything stopped, the screaming, whispering and tearing of books.
For the next three days, there was complete silence. The microphones were checked and were found to be working perfectly. Curious, the researchers decided to break into the chambers, something they vowed not to do, and found the prisoners in a horrifying state. There were chunks of meat all over the floor, not from the food ration, but the flesh of the prisoners.
It was a struggle to contain three prisoners as they started being aggressive and killed a few soldiers during the process and had to be shot dead. One was found already dead in the chambers, and the last one, quite terrifying, died once put to sleep. He managed to whisper a sentence before breathing his last. “We are the madness that lurks within you all, we are what you hide from in your beds every night”
“We are the madness that lurks within you all, we are what you hide from in your beds every night”— The Russian Sleep Experiment
The results of this experiment were an unexplainable chart for the researchers. Relating back to the bad effects of sleep deprivation mentioned earlier, men could go mad up to killing a person without enough sleep. Sleep is important. It keeps you sane. This research gave me nightmares and I vowed to sleep according to my routine from then.
Having enough sleep benefits a person in many ways. To name a few, being a boost to your mental well-being, improving concentration and productivity, improve problem-solving skills, and enhance memory performance. A study in medical interns provides a good example. Interns on a traditional schedule with extended work hours of more than 24 hours made 36% more serious medical errors than interns on a schedule that allowed more sleep.
In a nutshell, good sleep is equally essential to a person as having breakfast every morning. It's okay if you can’t sleep for 8 hours. At least, a good 20mins nap in between your schedule would be sufficient to keep you energized.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Priscilla John