A good night’s sleep, between seven and nine hours, helps the adult individual to face the day ahead adequately, both from the point of view of productivity and concentration in work tasks, and with regard to mood and the reduction of anxiety and stress.
When we sleep, the body rests and the brain, which remains active, has the opportunity to ‘recharge’.
During sleep, we tend to pass through two main states: REM sleep, characterized by the appearance of rapid eye movements and the absence of muscular activity, which occurs approximately five cycles per night, and non-REM sleep, which is deeper.
Dreams in REM sleep, which are more frequent, often contain strong emotions, dangers and threatening characters.
Dreams in non-REM sleep more frequently contain friendly and familiar characters.
Respecting sleep cycles contributes to proper cognitive functioning and memory consolidation.
From heart to appetite: how sleep affects our lives
A low or insufficient amount of rest can be related to various diseases, such as diabetes or hypertension.
This is because blood pressure varies during the sleep cycle and, consequently, rest that continues to be interrupted will have a negative influence on these variations.
The consequences can be hypertension or cardiovascular problems.
Insufficient and fragmented sleep can also have an impact on the metabolism.
For example, by affecting insulin levels and thus facilitating the onset of diabetes.
Or by increasing levels of cortisol, the so-called ‘stress hormone’, which will stimulate an increased appetite once you are awake.
Insomnia and apnea: two sleep disorders
But what disturbs our rest? Two of the most common pathologies are apnea and insomnia.
Apnea is characterized by a decrease in the flow of air in the lungs during the night, even leading to episodes of complete airlessness.
The patient suffering from sleep apnea will therefore be prone to waking up frequently, panting due to the lack of breath.
These ‘pauses in breathing’, related to the reduction of oxygen in the blood, can strain the heart, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease over time.
What can be the signs of sleep apnea?
A predisposition to snoring very loudly, for example, or continuous fatigue and daytime sleepiness with occasional sleep attacks.
But also, as we have said, a tendency to wake up several times during the night with a feeling of suffocation and lack of air.
Sleep attacks are responsible for 7% of road accidents and 20% of work accidents.
With regard to insomnia, however, patients often make the mistake of thinking that it is a pathology characterized simply by difficulty in getting to sleep
In fact, there are three types of insomnia: initial insomnia characterized by difficulty in falling asleep, central insomnia with awakenings during the night and terminal insomnia with early awakening.
The three forms of insomnia can sometimes coexist and result in insufficient sleep.
If these symptoms occur constantly, ie more than a few times a week, it is advisable to consult a specialist.
In fact, insomnia, which is a treatable disorder, may be a symptom of other medical or psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression, neurological or metabolic diseases, hypertension or heart disease and pain.
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