Behaviours and lifestyles that damage our sleep

Behaviours and lifestyles that damage our sleep

You have probably already realized that after a good night's sleep, we enjoy our day better. Sleep is vital for our health and essential for our physical and psychological well-being. Sleeping helps us reduce the stress accumulated during the day. At the same time, it allows our body to relax and release tension. Good sleep has multiple beneficial effects, contributing to our well-being and efficiency. 

In this article, we will help you understand the importance of respecting your sleep.

You think sleeping is a waste of time 

Nowadays, our societies are driven by productivity and leisure. Therefore, we sometimes feel like sleep is a waste of time. In fact, 13% of 25-45-year-olds consider it that way. 

However, sleeping is essential to our health. It is a biological function just like eating or drinking, and not a superfluous luxury. Moreover, a total and prolonged sleep deprivation leads to a degradation of our health which can ultimately result in death. Our vegetative functions like breathing, blood circulation, etc., are regulated by sleep. Just like the ability to defend against bacterial and viral infections. 

A lack of sleep often accompanies a decrease in our attention and effectiveness. Therefore, it negatively impacts our leisure activities. You then enter a vicious cycle: you want to sleep less to enjoy more, but by sleeping less, you enjoy less. 

Finally, sleepiness associated with lack of sleep and decreased attention greatly increases the risk of accidents

You wonder what the consequences of an all-nighter are


We have all experienced an all-nighter. Whether it's to study for an exam, because we enjoyed a good night out that ended with the sunrise, or because our child doesn't sleep through the night, etc. This all-nighter may seem trivial at first glance, but the consequences can be more severe.

Acute, total, and brief sleep deprivation leads to sleepiness and severe fatigue, but also intellectual slowing and decision-making difficulties. Your mood will be irritable, you will be less attentive and less focused, and your reflexes will be slower. All these factors will be accompanied by impaired judgment. Therefore, it is strongly discouraged to drive after an all-nighter or engage in dangerous activities that require concentration. Did you know that driving after an all-nighter (24 hours of wakefulness) is equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol level of 1 g/l

Should you stay in bed for 24 hours after an all-nighter to recover? 

Should you stay in bed for 24 hours after an all-nighter to recover?

An all-nighter is accompanied by an acute sleep debt. But this debt is often repaid the following night. The amount needed to recover is less than the amount lost, so a normal-length night is usually sufficient. Therefore, there is no need to sleep or stay in bed for 24 hours. 

Even if the amount of sleep does not change after an all-nighter, its quality will be altered. After acute sleep deprivation, deep sleep will be longer and will occur earlier during the night to restore the body. 

In this article, we explain how to fall asleep more easily and thus recover better from a potential all-nighter.

Sleep helps you better assimilate what you learned during the day 

Better assimilate what you learned during the day

The sleep phase is a very active part of our day. It has a positive effect on our entire body, including our mental functions. In fact, 75% of 25-45-year-olds think that lack of sleep affects memory. 

For the recovery of our intellectual activities such as attention, memory, and logic, sleep plays an essential role. During REM sleep, our nervous system is stimulated several times. These stimulations influence the quality of memory, the lasting retention of memories and learning, as well as problem-solving and adaptation to daily emotional experiences.

You want to reduce your sleep time to have more waking time 

Chronic sleep deprivation corresponds to a sleep duration that is too short compared to our needs. It refers to nights of less than 7 to 8 hours over a period of several weeks or even months. 

This deprivation mainly affects teenagers and young adults, who work a lot and/or spend most of their leisure time in front of screens. 17% of 25-45-year-olds accumulate a chronic sleep debt

Repeated, voluntary sleep deprivation is far from trivial. It can significantly affect our quality of life and health in the long term. In fact, just a few days of deprivation are enough to cause changes similar to accelerated aging in the body. 

Reduction of sleep time and obesity

We now know that reducing sleep duration and/or altering its quality promotes weight gain. Consequently, it increases the risk of obesity and diabetes. This is related to an imbalance of two hormones that regulate hunger. If you do not sleep enough, the satiety hormone (leptin) secreted by fat cells during sleep decreases. On the other hand, the hormone ghrelin, secreted during waking hours, makes us crave fatty and sugary foods. Lack of sleep is also a factor in reducing the effectiveness of insulin. This hormone produced by the pancreas lowers blood sugar levels, and thus increases the risk of diabetes when its effect is weakened.

You have to get up early every day because you have a long commute to work 

Long commute to work

The increase in commute times, especially in large cities, is often accompanied by a lack of sleep. In fact, 17% of 25-45-year-olds believe that their commute time contributes to them sleeping less than they need to. 

If you have the opportunity to take public transportation or carpool, you can use the time to take short naps. These will help you partially compensate for any sleep debt. 

The short-term consequences of insufficient sleep 

Several short-term consequences of lack of sleep should be considered:

  • Reduced ability to perceive the environment, decreased sensory perception, limited lateral visual field 
  • Slower motor reaction time, muscles are slower to respond 
  • Difficulty concentrating and lack of attention, accompanied by decreased performance. 
  • Fatigue and sleepiness 
  • Mood disturbances and irritability 
  • Disorientation, memory problems 
  • Increased risk of work or traffic accidents 

The long-term consequences of insufficient sleep

The long-term consequences of lack of sleep are even more alarming: 

  • Loss of attention, efficiency, and motivation 
  • Emotional fragility, mood disturbances, and irritability 
  • Increased risk of depression 
  • Inflammation and decreased defenses against infections 
  • Disrupted metabolism: risk of obesity and diabetes 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Physical discomfort and pain 
  • More difficult learning 

The final word 

Sleep is essential to our well-being, both physical and mental. It must be taken care of and, above all, respected. We do not all need the same number of hours of sleep, but none of us should sleep less than 6 to 7 hours per night in general. 

If you work at night and have trouble recovering, we invite you to read this article

If you do not work at night but have trouble sleeping enough, we invite you to adjust your schedule. When you get up early in the morning, go to bed early in the evening. It's not always easy, but try not to accumulate sleep debt. Your body will thank you. 

The post Why is it important to respect your sleep? first appeared on Le journal de l'oreiller.

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