Are We Ignoring Our Need for Sleep?

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All of us need an efficient sleep in order for us to do our best.

Countless articles and texts have been written, as well as the speeches delivered, about the importance of sleep in the media, at health conferences, diet programs and columns. Insufficient sleep is shown as one of the most important reasons behind the accidents in business life, particularly on highways and at home. Therefore, it should not be underestimated.

It is said that those who want to lose weight should get enough sleep. Studies show that insufficient sleep causes weight gain. Students, who are supposed to show a good performance on tasks that require memory and attention, have a cognitive disadvantage when deprived of sleep. In a study, in which the students slept for less than five hours for seven nights, it was observed that there were impairments as a result of the tests carried out to determine their moods, sleepiness and mental performances. The students could not go back to the emotional and cognitive levels they had prior to the study even after a couple of days following the end of the study. The results of this study are so surprising that they should be included in the freshmen orientation packages at universities.

In the articles reviewed by Kline, the physical activity was found to be decreasing the day after even though insufficient sleep did not distinctly affect the quality of the physical performance. One of the most striking effects was determined in those changing from day shifts to night shifts. Between those working by shifts, visual attention was found to have been decreased when they started a night shift after day shifts. According to an article by Santhi, Horowitz et al., the studies found out that the workers had to prolong the time they stayed awake in order to work two consecutive shifts instead of sleeping (e.g. Those working at hospitals), which in turn caused an increase in mistakes, accidents and injuries. This situation was not different from the results stemming from alcohol consumption.

If we take our physical, mental and emotional health seriously, the one thing we need to do today is not to delay regulating our sleep.

– “Acute partial sleep deprivation increases food intake in healthy men,” Brondel, L, Romer M Nougues P et al, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2010 91: 1550-1559.
– “Cumulative sleepiness, mood disturbance, and psychomotor vigilance performance decrements during a week of sleep restricted to 4-5 hours per night,” Dinges D Pack W, Gillen Powell J et al, Sleep 1997; 20:267-77.
– “The bidirectional relationship between exercise and sleep: Implications for exercise adherence and sleep improvement,” Kline C, Am J Lifestyle Med. 2014; 8: 375–379.