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Sleep well, otherwise ...
... your health can suffer the consequences.

Whether because of Jet lag (changing time zones), changing working hours, chronic insomnia, sleep disturbance or just trying to work a few more hours, we've all felt the exhaustion caused by malnourished nights.

In fact, sleeping is just as important to a healthy lifestyle as physical exercise and proper eating.

A good night's sleep is one of the most effective resources you can lay hands on to stay healthy.

Why is sleep important?

Not enough sleep can compromise health.

Studies indicate that lack of sleep may increase the risk of:

  • Heart diseases;
  • Stroke;
  • Diabetes;
  • Obesity;
  • Depression.

The important K cells

The immune system works best if we sleep well, because K cells - natural killing cells of harmful agents - are produced during sleep and are fundamental to the proper functioning of this system.

K cells are part of the body's defense mechanism against viruses, bacteria, and even cancer, and do not function properly in individuals under sleep deprivation.

These cells, produced in the bone marrow, are found in blood and lymphatic fluid.

Experimental studies in animals have shown that stress causes a decrease in white blood cells in the bloodstream, including K cells.

A study by the Cerrahpasa School of Medicine in Turkey concluded that after 24 hours without sleep, the percentage of K cells in the blood drops by 37%.

Another University of California study looked at 23 men and found that a single night of partial sleep deprivation reduced the activity of natural extermination cells to 72% of normal levels.

Although the activity of these cells normalizes after the person goes back to sleep properly, the problem is the possible damages in the case of prolonging the time in which the immune system leaves the body without defenses and susceptible to infections.

Other problems

But it is not just the immune system that suffers from lack of sleep.

"There is a greater incidence of heart problems among people with sleep disorders," says Dr. Antônio Felipe Simão, scientific director of the Brazilian Society of Cardiology of Santa Catarina (Brazil).

Sleep-deprived individuals show increasingly strong signs of an indicator of heart disease - the ultra-sensitive C-reactive protein (CRP), whose presence at abnormal levels associated with obstructive sleep apnea may play an important role in the development of cardiovascular problems.

Researchers at the University of Chicago have found that chronic sleep deficit can decrease the body's ability to regulate hormones and process carbohydrates.

In their study, they reduced the participants' sleep time from eight to four hours.

In less than a week, physical changes similar to the effects of early diabetes were observed.

Sleep disturbances increase the likelihood of pre-diabetic (glucose intolerance and insulin resistance) and obesity.

Both glucose intolerance and insulin resistance are markers for heart disease.

Nutritionist Liane Quintanilha Simões, of the Federal Council of Nutritionists, says that the hormonal issue associated with sleep disorder can also contribute to obesity.

It cites growth hormone, which is responsible for important functions in metabolism, among them the decrease of fat deposition in some regions of the body, and whose release occurs during sleep.

When the individual does not sleep, the levels of this hormone do not rise. Hunger is not stimulated.

In addition, there is also the reduction of leptin, an appetite suppressing hormone; Ghrelin, a hormone that controls hunger peaks, rises with lack of sleep, increasing appetite; And the body starts to produce more cortisol, the stress hormone, which promotes the storage of fat.

Therefore, a good night's sleep also contributes to the fight against obesity.

According to Dr. Gisele Minhoto, sleep is also important to maintain balanced brain activity.

Each sleep phase is regulated by neurotransmitters - substances responsible for communication between neurons - and during the non-REM phase, which accounts for 75% of total sleep time, neurotransmitters are "recharged".

Therefore, the loss of hours of sleep can cause a change in the balance and amount of neurotransmitters and, in this way, trigger disorders such as depression, anxiety and feelings of anger or sadness.

Restless Legs Syndrome

Do you usually sit down and then feel like getting up and moving your legs?

So, you may be suffering from Restless Legs Syndrome.

The exact cause is not yet known, although factors such as diabetes, iron deficiency and pregnancy - which affect the peripheral nerves of the feet - can contribute, since most people who can stabilize these pictures can reduce the symptoms.

If you only go through this when traveling, it is advisable to carry a tissue and, when necessary, moisten it and put it on your legs.

Foot massage can also relieve.

There are also medications that are appropriate for the disease, but may cause drowsiness, and it is recommended that you should be given to people who wake up in the middle of the night because of involuntary spasms in the legs.

Sleep Apnea

For some, the problem is not in finding time to sleep, but in the difficulty of falling asleep and maintaining a continuous sleep.

Insomnia and sleep apnea are the two most common sleep disorders among Brazilians.

A survey of the Psychobiology Department of the Federal University of São Paulo showed that about 30% of the population complained of non-repairing sleep. Of these, 10% suffer from insomnia and need treatment.

As for apnea, its diagnosis depends on an examination not yet available for the entire population - polysomnography.

The biggest problem is that although there is a high percentage of people with insomnia and apnea, the Brazilian does not value their sleep problems, and so does not seek a specialist.

Sleep Apnea is a form of sleep disorder that causes the airways to be partially or totally disrupted.

Depending on the cause, exercise, weight loss and quitting can be beneficial.

If you are overweight like most who suffer from sleep apnea, lose weight.

Try sleeping sideways, not belly up.

Cutting alcohol also helps. Do not drink at night as alcohol relaxes the airways, increasing the likelihood of airflow disruption.

If the diameter of your neck is greater than 43 cm (40 cm for women), you run the risk of obstructive sleep apnea and have heart problems. Most people thin the neck quickly, so a loss of 5% in weight reduces the symptoms of apnea.

An acupuncturist can put needles in his nose, chest, arms and other points to unclog the airways.

The pressure - applied by a mask - keeps the airways open.

Continuous therapy or CPAP is the most common type.

For those who can use it, PAP (Positive Air Pressure) therapy is the best solution and standard therapy. It can also help relieve depression and insomnia, both of which are associated with sleep disorders. So just try other things like dental devices that push the jaw forward while you sleep if it fails. These devices open the upper respiratory tract.

If PAP therapy and other treatments fail, you should consult a surgeon about corrective procedures that may improve your breathing. Surgery should be the last treatment option. It is the most invasive and only succeeds half the time.

Treating sleep apnea can improve memory problems.

How many hours of sleep do you need?Having a good night's sleep means waking up rested and energized.

However, so-called "restful sleep" varies from person to person.

The ideal number of hours is individual.

If the person sleeps less than he needs for nights at a time, he accumulates a deficit of sleep.

Sleeping at less an hour a day already characterizes sleep deprivation.And sleep deprivation can cause:
  • Irritation;
  • Lack of concentration;
  • Difficulty of cognition;
  • Lose sense of direction.
Everything depends on the constancy of the problem.

The occurrence of insomnia in a single night is not very important, but the deprivation of a few hours of sleep over several nights will add up and may equal the acute lack of sleep for three or four days, for example.

According to studies conducted by Sociedade Brasileira de Sono and by the Latin American Federation of Sleep Societies, the Brazilian sleeps on average 7.5 hours per night. However, 15% of the population has at most six hours of sleep per night.

The stress and even the fact that some people consider sleeping a waste of time takes away the necessary hours of neglect.

A survey of a group of petrochemical workers in the state revealed that 60 percent of respondents would like to sleep less because they considered sleeping a waste of time. And 25% of them slept less even taking sleep and time to rest.

Whether we leave the household chores after the children go to bed, socialize, or work late, the fact is that we sleep less than we should.

Does filing after lunch do you good?For a long time the siesta was considered a habit linked to the Iberian and Latin American culture.

At noon, the shops closed the doors to reopen at four in the afternoon.

With globalization and the standardization of expedients in the world, things have changed.

Today, fewer than 25 percent of Spaniards salute, and a Mexican law restricted the lunch break to one hour.

A paper, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, reinforces the idea that nap is good for health.

The study, with 23,000 adults of both sexes followed for six years, was conducted in Greece, which also follows the habit of napping.

It was found that people who rested after lunch had a lower risk of death from heart disease.

The siesta allows rest during a daytime cycle where the metabolism functions more slowly and the brain cells are less active.

Thus, where labor fanatics saw a sign of laziness, there was popular wisdom.Latitude influences the Biological ClockGeographical Bohemia.

Northeastern tend to sleep and wake up sooner than gauchos, and Paulistas are in an intermediate line.

Scientists have shown that latitude influences people's biological clock.

This relationship was discovered by researchers from the Unifesp Sleep Institute, who evaluated five thousand questionnaires in order to verify the distribution of chronotypes - a natural tendency to sleep early or late.

Mário Pedrazzoli, one of the leaders of the study, suspects that there may be an interaction of the influence of latitude with genetics.

How to have a good night's sleepDr. Luciane Fujita gives the following suggestions:
  • The room must be quiet, and the bed must be comfortable;
  • Get up and lie down at the same time every day;
  • Limit caffeine and nicotine use. And have dinner two to three hours before going to sleep. It is harder to fall asleep if you are digesting what you have eaten. A light snack, however, can help;
  • Exercise regularly. Physical activity can provide better quality sleep. However, vigorous exercises just before bedtime can delay sleep;
If you have trouble getting to sleep or sleeping:
  • Do not stay in bed for more than half an hour. Get up and do something relaxing, like reading;
  • Establish a quiet ritual before going to bed: drink a glass of warm milk or herbal tea; Read or take a warm bath;
  • Treat medical problems that may contribute to sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
If the difficulty sleeping continues, there are a variety of medications available.

Although sleeping pills today are significantly safer, if they are used for a long time, there is a greater chance of addiction.

But prolonged insomnia may be a sign of a more serious problem and should be carefully evaluated.

You should consult your doctor before taking any sleeping medicine.


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