World Sleep Day: find out if you sleep well and what to do to rest more

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International studies point out that sleeping well improves mood, concentration, strengthens the immune system and prevents cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. It is during this period of rest that the organism performs the main restorative functions, replenishes energy and regulates metabolism.

This Friday (17) is celebrated the world sleep day . The date aims to highlight the importance of sleeping well for the preservation of physical and mental health.

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“It is no coincidence that sleep is considered one of the three pillars of health, alongside good nutrition and physical activity,” says physician Dalva Poyares, a researcher at the Sleep Institute and professor at the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp ).

Sleep deprivation and insufficient sleep increase the risk for cardiovascular and metabolic problems, such as hypertension and diabetes, as well as a propensity for obesity.

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The Associação Brasileira do Sono (ABS) recommends that adults sleep between 7 and 9 hours a night. Those who sleep little eventually may experience drowsiness, fatigue, bad mood and reduced cognitive performance, including decision-making capacity. “People who usually sleep little live less and are at greater risk of developing dementia”, explains Dalva.

For the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, extending the duration of sleep in people who usually sleep little can bring health benefits.

A study at Pennsylvania State University, in the United States, evaluated the impact of sleep duration on the cardiovascular health of 53 university students, with an average age of 20 years, for two weeks. In the first 7 days, everyone maintained their usual sleep schedule. On the other 7 days, they increased their sleep duration by 1 hour. Participants reported that in the second week they had less daytime sleepiness and a drop in systolic blood pressure.

The benefits of sleep can go beyond physical health. Researchers at the University of Aarhus, Denmark, carried out a study to analyze the emotional state of 72 young people, between 18 and 24 years old, who slept an average of 7 hours a night. For two weeks, they reported their mood through an app. On days 8 and 14, some of them were asked to extend their sleep duration by 90 minutes. Students who slept longer had better sleep quality and had more positive emotions than those who slept 7 hours.

What is normal sleep?

As important as the concepts of normality for sleep duration and quality are its temporal allocation, its sources of variability and expectations for each age group, according to the Associação Brasileira do Sono (ABS).

Rhythms that are repeated daily are called circadian rhythms, which are a sequence of daily physiological events that occur in the body. Upon waking up, the secretion of the hormone cortisol occurs, while melatonin is already low and body temperature begins to rise, for example. Circadian rhythms can be altered by changes in our temporal relationship with the environment.

In adulthood, social factors influence sleep and bring consequences to people’s health. Sufficient sleep duration varies from person to person. However, epidemiological studies reveal that the recommendation for sleep duration in adulthood, for healthy individuals who do not suffer from sleep disorders, is between 7 and 9 hours a day, with 6 to 10 hours being appropriate.

According to the ABS, there is robust evidence to show that both short and long duration sleep are associated with the development of serious health problems. Therefore, sleep episodes of less than 6 and more than 10 hours are not recommended. In addition, it is necessary to consider the differences in duration and time of sleep allocation according to gender and age.

Women tend to have a greater need for sleep and be more morning in adulthood, decreasing this morning preference during the menopause period.

“Sleep is a need of the organism like any other: eating, drinking water, physiological eliminations, among others. It is a state of brain behavior, in which each person has their own biological rhythm and need. One person’s sleep shouldn’t be compared to another’s,” says sleep expert and Philips Avent consultant Danielle Cogo.

Although several studies have demonstrated the occurrence of changes in sleeping and waking times in the elderly, such evidence is not necessarily associated with poor sleep quality.

Elderly people generally sleep earlier than other adults and get more than 7 consecutive hours of good quality sleep. A healthy elderly person may have naps during the day and most of their sleep is concentrated at night.

This behavior is absolutely normal and should not be seen as a sleep problem. Low activity repertoire and social isolation, often characteristic of the retirement phase, are psychosocial characteristics that can interfere with sleep quality.

But it is the presence of diseases in general, including the higher incidence of sleep disorders, such as insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea, which are the factors responsible for the decline in good quality sleep among the elderly.

How to improve sleep at night

Human sleep can be divided into two major phases, the so-called non-REM sleep and REM sleep. The name comes from the English language, being defined by the presence or absence of rapid eye movements during sleep.

Non-REM sleep is composed of three stages, from superficial to deepest, which indicates that the time to wake up shows a continuous increase with the evolution of the stages during the night.

REM sleep, on the other hand, is considered a deeper stage of sleep, characterized by temporary paralysis of the body’s muscles, which allows complete relaxation, and rapid eye movements. According to the Associação Brasileira do Sono, mental activity during REM sleep is associated with our dreams.

“To get a good night’s sleep, start dimming the lights about two hours before bedtime so your brain understands you’re relaxing and it’s time to rest. Ideally, you choose not to watch movies, series, videos, but if you still want to, choose lighter programs, without flashy images and without sounds that could be disturbing, such as screams, lively music and thunderous sound effects”, recommends infectologist and specialist in integrative medicine Flavia Cohen.

A set of measures helps to increase the quality of sleep and reinforce the feeling of rest the next morning. The so-called “sleep hygiene” includes regular bedtimes, avoiding heavy meals around bedtime, and avoiding excessive screen use.

“We spend about 1/3 of our lives sleeping and for that to happen in a restorative way, it is important to maintain a healthy diet, practice physical exercises regularly, in addition to controlling your stress levels. Include breaks in your routine, with moments of relaxation and relaxation, and take good care of your health”, says nutritionist Carol Tavares, from Vitamine-se.

Among the guidelines are:

  1. Decrease the brightness of the room
  2. Try adding relaxation practices before bed
  3. Maintain a healthy diet and include nutrients that help improve sleep quality
  4. Do physical exercises regularly
  5. Avoid caffeine and high-sugar foods before bed
  6. Do not drink large volumes of liquids before bed
  7. Don’t check your email or work before going to bed

Source: CNN Brasil

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