The Science of Sleep | How to Get a Good Night’s Rest

On vacation, many do not crawl out further than their own bed and try to get enough sleep for the year ahead. It’s okay if you sleep wisely. “Afisha,” tells how to enter the ideal mode, choose a mattress and pajamas, how to deal with insomnia – and whether you need to be afraid of a lack of sleep.

How much sleep do you need?

“I hate sleep. For a third of my life, I’ve been drooling on my pillow, ”writes journalist A.J. Jacobs in his book, Healthy to Death. And it seems that his opinion is shared by a huge number of people: over the past 100 years, we have begun to sleep less by 1.5-2 hours. To some extent, this trend can be understood: scientists still cannot really explain why sleep is needed. At the same time, they proved that a lack of sleep leads to a lot of negative consequences for the body: obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, depression, deterioration in work immune system, increased sensitivity to pain, deterioration in physical condition. People with sleep deficiency are more likely to get into accidents, make mistakes at the workplace, their mood, concentration, and memory deteriorate. Student Randy Gardner, who had been awake for a record 11 days (264 hours), began to show signs of paranoia, among other things. At the same time, people tend to underestimate the deterioration of their condition. It is very difficult to establish what mechanisms lead to health problems with a lack of sleep. For example, only recently it became known what happens to the brain in a dream: it is cleared of the products of its vital activity. In other words, everything indicates that sleep is by no means a waste of time and you need to get enough sleep. Thomas Roth, head of the Sleep Disorders Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, USA, says: “People regularly ask if they can learn to sleep less. I answer yes, but you cannot learn to need less sleep. This is called sleep deprivation. You cannot change the need for sleep. ”

What are ideal sleep patterns?

By and large, the quality of sleep is more important than quantity. The main thing that can be done to improve the quality is to go to bed and get up at the same time (plus or minus half an hour). “You can fall asleep at 5 am and wake up at 12 noon, if you organize everything correctly,” says Alexander Kalinkin. – The main thing is to always (including on weekends) adhere to one regime. True, in winter in Moscow, with such a schedule, a person will see very little daylight. ” If you can’t get enough sleep, then you can, of course, try to “get some sleep” on the weekend, but, firstly, it is not entirely clear whether this will minimize the damage to health, and secondly, if during the week you did not get enough sleep every day for 2 hours, then plus 10 hours of sleep in two days is not quite realistic. How can I help myself to comply with the regimen? If you are a night owl, then you shouldn’t try to make yourself a morning person. These predispositions are determined by genes, and if you go against nature, then there will be social jetlag unhealthy.

What is insomnia and how to deal with it?

Tossing and turning in bed for a long time before going to bed, constantly waking up at night, and after accidentally waking up not to fall asleep again immediately – this is all insomnia. The natural reaction of anyone suffering from night vigils is to take sleeping pills. Moreover, physicians often prescribe such drugs to everyone indiscriminately. At the same time, somnologists, doctors specializing in sleep disorders, do not like sleeping pills very much. Why? “ There are several dozen reasons for insomnia (insomnia. – Ed. ),” Says Alexander Kalinkin. Only after conducting a polysomnographic study (registration of certain physiological parameters during sleep. – Ed.) and a conversation with the patient, you can make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the correct treatment. Often there are patients who have not been diagnosed for several decades, and they suffered from it. I mean restless legs syndrome, periodic lower limb movement syndrome, narcolepsy (a rare disease characterized by bouts of daytime sleep and sudden muscle relaxation. – Ed. ). Even many neurologists do not know about the latter pathology, although it is a neurological disease. And people with such pathology are even given psychiatric diagnoses. ” What if you have insomnia? First of all, start observing sleep hygiene (see “What interferes with sleep” and “What helps sleep”), that is, create all the conditions for normal sleep. Counting sheep, as scientists have found, is meaningless. But to imagine a peaceful landscape is a direct road to sleep. If you can’t fall asleep for 15–20 minutes, the doctors advise you to get up and do something relaxing (read a book, listen to pleasant music). And then, when sleepiness appears, go to bed like fabric beds to enjoy sleeping.