Secrets of a healthy sleep
Up to 90% of urban residents to some extent suffer from sleep disturbances. What happens to our body when we sleep?
While we sleep sweetly in a warm bed, all the systems of our body are actively working. Only in special night mode.
We spend almost half of our lives in a dream. And the average majority prefers to sleep at night. Of course, now, if desired, nightlife can be organized in the same way as daylight: work, shop, play sports or household chores, have fun in clubs and cinema. But can a person change places day and night (while maintaining the necessary cyclic condition) without harming health? Experts say: absolutely not!
Man is a daytime animal. This is evidenced by an indisputable fact - we practically do not see in the dark. Only one ten thousandth part of all mankind owns nictalopia (the ability to see almost in total darkness). In addition, the production of certain necessary and irreplaceable trace elements (for example, vitamin D, which is responsible for normal growth and mental balance) is carried out in the body only with the assistance of sunlight. During evolution, the heart, lungs, and digestive system have learned to react to day and night in a strictly defined order. What happens to us at night in complete darkness?
The endocrine system is especially sensitive to changing the time of day. For example, the pancreas produces insulin more actively during the day, and at night - the hormone that promotes rest and falling asleep - somatostatin. If you stay awake at night and sleep during the day, hormone production will partially rebuild. But only partially. Therefore, the quality of daytime sleep (as well as nighttime assimilation of nutrients) will be worse not only in terms of external indicators (light, noise), but also in biochemical parameters.
The main "sleepy" hormones have been identified by scientists recently. In the 70s, Americans discovered the substance melatonin, secreted by the brain in order to immerse the body in sleep. Only in the late 90s they discovered the antipode of melatonin - orexin, which is responsible for wakefulness and a healthy feeling of hunger, and even learned to block it with medication in case of a severe failure in the sleep-wake rhythm. As for melatonin, in recent years it continues to surprise researchers. It turns out that in addition to sedatives, it also has antioxidant, detoxifying (read - anti-aging) properties, and in addition, it strengthens the immune system and even fights against cancer cells! Formulated over the centuries, the formula “sleep - and everything will pass” is based, as it turned out, on the healing effect of melatonin. The content of this miracle hormone in the blood varies depending on the time of day - at night its concentration increases 4-6 times, reaching a peak between midnight and three in the morning.
The group of "internal sleeping pills" produced by our internal laboratory is closed by the hormone serotonin and the amino acid tryptophan, which is involved in many vital internal processes. Their lack can seriously affect the quality of sleep.
Fortunately, there is a whole hit list of foods that contain melatonin and tryptophan and contribute to the production of serotonin. The well-known recommendation of nutritionists (do not eat after 18.00, if you want to keep slim forms) is based on knowledge of biorhythms. Starting from six in the evening for 4 hours, the digestive process slows down so that after 22.00 it will practically freeze until seven in the morning, when the time comes for the maximum activity of the stomach, and after it the pancreas. But, if you can’t sleep, it’s not a crime to replace sleeping pills recommended by a good doctor with a natural product. It is even more farsighted to regularly include something from this list in the evening meal:
- Bananas They are even called "sleeping pills in the peel." They stimulate the production of serotonin and melatonin, contain potassium, as well as magnesium, which helps stabilize mood and relax muscles.
- Milk. A good union of tryptophan and calcium, which helps the brain absorb tryptophan. For many children, warm milk with honey is an ideal sleeping pill. So why not take an example from them?
- Turkey meat, almonds and pine nuts, whole grain bread. Products are leaders in tryptophan, and baked potato absorbs substances that impede the absorption and processing of this essential amino acid.
- Low glucose
(in the form of honey or jam) will help block excess orexin, which prevents us from turning off and falling asleep. Just do not get carried away! A large amount of sweets is perceived by the brain as a signal for a new cycle of activity! What happens in the body during sleep?
Work in a dream
Experts recommend paying special attention to the behavior of the body at night: frequent nightly trips to the toilet can signal developing kidney failure, and recurring nightly pains in any part of the body (even if you don’t remember about them during the day) will indicate the need to consult before any diagnostician for a consultation with a doctor.
During the day, the brain has too many distractions: noise, light, intense mental or physical activity. At night, very special conditions are created: the sensory organs are transferred to a passive state in order to provide two most important functions: the “audit” of the state of all internal organs by the brain and the cleansing of the body. The heartbeat slows down, blood pressure decreases (if for some reason this does not happen, the transition to sleep becomes difficult), digestive activity approaches zero. What at this time works in full force?
The kidneys are almost the main "night" organ. This is explained even by the position of the body during sleep: when we lie, blood more actively enters the zone of the lower back, and therefore, to the kidneys. At this time, they have the most important function: to process and remove from the body all unnecessary substances. But not only. Blood pressure and even the formation of calcium (and therefore the condition of the entire skeletal system) are also associated with the proper functioning of the kidneys: at night, the kidneys more actively release the hormone calcitamine, strengthening the skeleton and helping to overcome the effects of daytime stress. In order not to aggravate the burden on the kidneys, excessive (especially evening) salt intake, and especially a combination of salt and liquid, should be avoided. Otherwise, in an attempt to cope with this cocktail, the excretory system will require help from the heart, which will inevitably lead to sleep failure.
I want to sleep
An ideal dream, or “baby’s dream,” is characterized by three indicators:
- fast falling asleep;
- lack of intermediate awakenings;
- free, easy awakening with the desire to move on to vigorous activity.
Alas, almost 90% of the adult urban population “falls short” of the standard in one or several indicators at once. The reasons are known: overwork and stress, excessive flow of information, increased noise background, abuse of excitatory substances. Among the most harmful factors are:
- The use of caffeinated substances. Caffeine suppresses the inhibition system, and the brain is unable to shut off.
- Evening internet sessions. Working on a computer (especially searches on the Internet) makes it difficult for the body to go to sleep, as the brain receives an additional dose of information that it is forced to process. Perceptual receptors are irritated and stay in the active phase longer.
- Alcohol. It blocks the action of a number of substances necessary for normal metabolism, which provokes a more frequent awakening. In addition, alcohol inhibits the normal cycle of brain activity and interferes with the consistent flow and alternation of all phases of sleep.
How, under our realities, bring sleep closer to ideal?
It is very useful to create and strictly observe the preceding sleep ritual: a short walk in a quiet place, a shower or bath at a comfortable temperature, a warm drink, self-massage of the legs, reading a pleasant book. By repeating the chosen action from evening to evening, we help the body develop the reflex of falling asleep and it is easier to go to sleep. There should be enough oxygen in the sleeping room - otherwise the heart will not be able to switch to a slow "night" mode. Do not forget about the 15-30 minute airing of the bedroom before going to bed, even in winter cold. Do you constantly wake up “broken”? If you get up on an alarm, experiment with a wake-up time of up to 40 minutes forward or backward. Perhaps the bell rings at the height of the “slow sleep” phase, and the best time to wake up is right after the dream phase ends.
Take care of noise isolation: even if you are accustomed to noise, the brain continues to perceive it as an annoying and threatening factor and cannot focus only on internal processes in the body, as it should be normal.
Why do we need dreams?
Sleep at the highest level
Why do you need dreams? There is still no single answer. Only in the last 50–70 years, sleep specialists (psychiatrists, psychotherapists, neurophysiologists, somnologists) began to come closer to understanding this phenomenon. Dreams are the brightest, but also the shortest part of the overall sleep process. It takes no more than 40 minutes from the traditional eight hours. Contrary to popular belief, dreams do not indicate internal disturbances. The purpose of the dream is to adapt the information received during wakefulness, to make it acceptable, safe for consciousness. This processing occurs only during the paradoxical - or dreaming - phase and is started with the help of the substance acetylcholine coming from the posterior part of the brain. At this time, access to external signals is practically blocked (sensitivity to sounds, temperature drops, vibrations is minimal): all efforts are concentrated on internal processes. But scientists do not know which particular “piece” of information will be processed by the brain; Whether the “daily remnant” of recent events, childhood experiences, or even hereditary information that, according to one of the founders of somnology, the French researcher M. Jouvet, comes to our attention during our dreams will fall into the spotlight. But trying to get from the dream any information about the past or future does not make sense. Indeed, even the dreamer himself does not remember the whole dream (even if he is sure of the opposite), and the interpretation of the interpreter is doubly and even triple distorted.
Day is like night
The consequences of life contrary to biorhythms are far from encouraging: the risk of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and diabetes is increased. Therefore, doctors strongly advise: even if the objective circumstances of life require night vigils, it is not recommended to adhere to this regimen] longer than three or four years and at the first opportunity to return to daytime life.
OUR ADVISERS: Olga Viktorovna Gavrilova, nephrologist; Lev Yuryevich Epov, Ph.D., psychiatrist, psychotherapist
PHOTO: GettyImages / Fotobank.ru