Why Do We Need To sleep?.We all need to sleep. There are people who need at least 8 hours of sleep, while others are 4 or 5 enough to feel rested. In either case, the sure thing is that you can not live without sleep . This is one of the basic necessities of the human being, and for this reason, sleep deprivation can have negative effects on our body – even death .
On days when we do not even sleep for an hour, the body is severely affected. Even when we sleep only two or three hours we are having negative effects . The risk is to cause problems related to the emotional, physical and cognitive sphere. The lost sleeping hours are also not recovered; if one night we sleep for only three hours with the hope of recovering a few hours of sleep with an afternoon rest, we will continue to feel the effects of the lack of sleep. Indeed, perhaps we will not be able to reconcile sleep even during the penniless.
That sleep is absolutely necessary, it seems clear. But why? What happens to our brain while we sleep? What if we stop sleeping? Science has tried to answer all of these questions by trying to simulate the natural sleep conditions in different laboratories. Although there is still a lot to be discovered, here are some of the developments in this area.
What happens to the brain when we sleep?
Before studies were made to clarify what happened while we were sleeping, we had come to believe that during our hours of rest our brain was “disconnected”, giving birth to a sort of rest in which neurological activity remained completely inactive. Yet, it has been shown that things are not so and that some parts of the brain continue to work even at night.
During the different stages of sleep, brain activity changes. The REM phase is the one in which the most intense brain activity is identified . Activities that are recorded by observing brain waves, then compared with the oscillation of those adjustable on an awake person. On the other hand, during the slow sleep phase, simultaneous activation of groups of neurons occurred every 4 seconds, demonstrating that even in this case, the brain remains operative.
It has also been found that one of the most important functions of sleep is to consolidate learning . The information we learn during the day is being processed while we are sleeping . While all the information considered useless and irrelevant is eliminated, those considered important are classified and enhanced.
Effects of sleep deprivation
There are few people who have never suffered from insomnia problems , either periodically or unusually. When we can not sleep at night, the next day we are attacked by a great deal of psychological and physical symptoms that turn our day into a continuous survival test. The main problems are:
- Lack of concentration
- Bad mood
- Memory leaks
These and others may be the side effects of a passing night in white. But how long can we be without sleep? When does the lack of sleep become dangerous? The record is held by a certain Randy Gardner, who, undergoing an experiment in which he should remain awake for as long as possible, set the primacy of 264 hours (11 days).
Already from the beginning hours began to manifest bad mood and concentration problems. Four days after the beginning of the experiment, the first visual hallucinations emerged (he even thought he was a famous football player). However, once the experiment was completed, there was no permanent damage. According to data from experiments on cavities and humans with insomnia, the maximum limit would be between 3 and 4 weeks without sleep.
Fatal Family Insomnia (IFF)
It is a dominant and potentially dangerous autosomal genetic disease. Hereditary disease, caused by mutation in chromosome 20, causes excess production of a given prion . This abnormal build up produces a cerebral degeneration that affects mainly the part of the brain known as talamo.
The brain degeneration caused by this pathology produces a state of persistent insomnia, as well as a deterioration of memory, motor difficulties, myclones, weight loss, and further symptoms. This difficulty in sleeping can last for days and even weeks. Those who suffer from it can stay awake for so long to risk becoming a coma
Just so, the disease can complicate itself until it leads to coma. The thalamus degeneration makes the person always alert and vigilant, making useless any treatment usually used by those suffering from insomnia. Although it is a rare disease , cases have been identified in Italy in two distinct families. For the time being there is no cure for this disorder.
The importance of sleeping well
Experts recommend sleeping every night between 7 and 8 hours. The amount of hours may vary depending on age or health status. For example, children need many hours of sleep as they are at a critical time of their cognitive development and need to consolidate what they learned. Even pregnant women need to increase the number of hours of sleep.
The important thing is not just sleeping, but sleep is regenerating. For this reason, it is crucial that the 4 non-rem and REM sleep phases are satisfactory. It has been found that during Phase 4, metabolism and blood flow to the brain are reduced by 75% compared to when they awakened. The reason for this is the elimination of free radicals that can damage the brain.
Light sleep is attributed to functions such as energy saving, physical recovery, and neurological recovery . Instead, sleep memory during the REM phase is attributed to memory enhancement .
As you can see, the sleep functions are different and all are extremely important. Sleeping well does not only make us feel better, but it’s a real need set up by our biological watch.