It seems incredible, but sleeping is becoming a luxury that not everyone can enjoy. Sleep is one of the dimensions where any emotional difficulties are first reflected. In turn, not sleeping well generates different risks and accentuates any problems that we may have.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a normal adult should sleep between 7 and 8 hours each night to get optimal rest, both physically and mentally. In turn, the effects of not sleeping can be very serious. Among them, the WHO warns about one in particular: spending just one night without sleep, can cause loss of brain tissue.
“Happiness for me consists of being in good health, sleeping without fear and waking up without anguish.”
When the hours of sleep are not enough or it is not possible to sleep deeply, a person is literally left with the nerves to the surface. They are often highly irritable or especially sensitive to any type of stimulus. This has been proven in several studies in this regard. So not sleeping well affects our mood in a remarkable way.
Not sleeping well generates “a hurricane of emotions”
A study on sleep was recently carried out at Tel Aviv University, which was later published in the Journal of Neuroscience . In this research, it was found that those who do not get enough sleep perceive and feel daily reality in a different way.
The study was based on a group of 18 adults, who were given a test after a night in which they had slept well and then another, after a night in which they had not slept. The test consisted of showing them a series of images that included some “emotionally positive” (a teddy bear, for example), others “emotionally negative” (a mutilated body) and some more that were neutral (a cutlery, a chair, etc.) .
All participants were monitored using encephalograms that allowed them to observe their brain activity. The final conclusion was that, by not sleeping well, the brains of the participants became basically incapable of emotionally differentiating the images. The reaction was pretty much the same with positive, negative, and neutral images. According to these scientists, all this would indicate that there is emotional lack of control.
Irrational and primary behaviors
In another study carried out at the University of Bekeley, it was established that sleeping 2 or more hours less than necessary severely affects the prefrontal lobe, which is the area that regulates emotions. The result of this is that lack of sleep leads to more irrational and primary responses .
Matthew Walker, the director of the research, noted that not sleeping well “breaks the mechanisms that protect us from mental illness. ” He added that sleep restores emotional circuits and allows us to better cope with the challenges of daily life.
Walker also said that while it is popularly believed that lack of sleep leads to a state of dullness and passivity, the opposite is true. People who do not sleep do not become more passive, but 60% more reactive, that is, more violent and uncontrolled.
The price of not sleeping well
Poor sleep leads to other problems as well. Emotional balance is compromised and the ability to react to stimuli is impaired. This means that when we do not have a good sleep pattern, there is a higher risk of accidents. Driving without a good night’s sleep is estimated to be equivalent to driving while intoxicated.
On the other hand, thought patterns are also significantly altered by lack of sleep. It is much more difficult to process the information you receive and make decisions. One study indicated that medical errors skyrocket by up to 400% in healthcare professionals who work continuous 24-hour shifts. Likewise, it has been concluded that those who sleep less than they need can develop memory problems.
It is not only the brain that is seriously affected by lack of sleep. Not sleeping well also increases the probability that our body begins to suffer directly through illness. It is known, for example, that the immune system is affected. There are also data that allow us to conclude that lack of sleep affects diabetes, cancer and even obesity.
All that said, it’s worth your while to assess whether you’re getting adequate sleep. Good sleep is a valuable asset that we must take care of and preserve. Without a doubt, it constitutes one of the great pillars of our mental health.
Nine ways to relax your mind
It is good to take time to relax your mind. There are many ways to do it. Each person is different and each one must find what works best for them.
Images courtesy of Alex Stoddart, Miruna Ivanescu, Enzzo Barrena.