Sleep and stuff

Best. Title. Ever.
Before I write about sleep, I’ll just give a few updates. Still depressed. Not going back to the unit. Apparently JLS thinks that I need to know about any mentally ill person with anxiety she knows – I don’t. I won’t get on with every mentally unwell person in my area so for the love of God I don’t need to know about your cousion. Mean? yes. But I don’t care. I really don’t care if JLS has some cousion that she doesn’t really speak to with who has ‘mental issues’ whatever that ambiguous statement means and anxiety. I mean, this sounds cruel but life is short and unless this is going to affect me in some way, don’t tell me this stuff. If I’m never going to meet the girl, don’t tell me because I don’t have enough brain space for it. But aside from that annoyance today my isolation is going pretty well. I’ve spent it watching random TV shows and just had to venture out my hole today to go the dentist but aside from that it’s going well. Hm, maybe my lack of sympathy is due to my not interacting with humans… huh.

Now sleep, so basically my sleep pattern has adjusted so I sleep at 6am and wake at 9am and stay in bed either through laziness or dissociativeness or occassionally sleep until 4pm and I waste my day so I’m trying to change it so I fall asleep at midnight and am ready to get up at a reasonable hour. So.. I researched sleep. What did I find?

Sleep deprivation and the effects.

But first we must ask… what is sleep?

Well sleep is sleep but there are stages.

  • Drowsiness (stage 1): Your heart rate slows down, you start to breathe slower and your metabolism slows down. This stage usually lasts five to twenty minutes.
  • Light sleep (stage 2): Brain activity is lower than during stage 1. This type of sleep constitutes about half of the total sleep time.
  • Deep sleep (stages 3 and 4): During these stages the brain activity is at its lowest. The body produces almost no stress hormones but a lot of growth hormones.
  • Dream sleep, REM sleep (stage 5): During this stage the eyes are moving rapidly behind the eyelids, hence the name Rapid Eye Movement (REM). During this stage breathing gets faster, the heart beats faster and the blood pressure rises. The brain now works in a similar way as when we are awake. You can dream during all stages of sleep, but dreams are most common during this stage.

Sleep is NOT a bank. You can’t store it up and then go days on little sleep.  Nor can you overdraw without penalty and then make up sleep needs on weekends.

Sleep deprivation reduces emotional intelligence and constructive thinking skills. It affects body weight, the immune system, and more.

Total sleep deprivation can cause higher energy user (increased metabolism and consequent weight loss), reduction in higher-level cognitive abilities, and a reduction in the effectiveness of the immune system and increased susceptibility to infection.  In bad cases, people with total sleep deprivation can get skin lesions and irregular heart beats.

Partial sleep deprivation is harder to pin down, partly because there is no “right” amount of sleep for a person and because the desire for sleep and tendency to fall asleep fall along a continuum.  However, we can say that partial sleep deprivation has some of the same effects, although at lower levels.  Chronic short sleep, arguably a form of partial sleep deprivation, leads to increased body mass (in contrast to short-term total sleep deprivation which makes the subject lose weight.)

How does a lack of sleep affect the body?

A person who loses one night’s sleep will generally be irritable and clumsy during the next day and will either become tired easily or speed up because of adrenalin. After missing two night’s sleep, a person will have problems concentrating and will begin to make mistakes on normal tasks. Three missed nights and a person will start to hallucinate and lose grasp of reality.

Sleep deprivation seems to increase levels of inflammatory mediators such as IL-1, IL-6 and TNF.   What does this mean?  It doesn’t definitely mean anything, but it might mean a lot of things.  Inflammation is associated with (scientists aren’t willing to use the word “cause”) a number of long-term chronic illnesses such as heart problems and cancer.  There is no smoking gun leaking restricted sleep to these conditions, but it is reasonable to assume poor sleep increases the change of developing health problems.

Sleep debt is associated with melancholic symptoms and clinical depression.

It may increase the severity of the chronic problems seen in conjunction with aging.  It affects carbohydrate metabolism the same way diabetes does (at least in the short run) and produces higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the evenings and generally more activity of the sympathetic nervous system.  t

People with sleep debt also take more risks.  A test of sleep deprived blackjack players found they correctly assessed the increased risk of certain bets in the same manner as rested players did, but were more willing to place bets on the higher risk propositions.

The decline in performance can be measured through behavioral tests and advanced imaging systems can even show lower levels of blood-bourne oxygen being delivered to important areas in the brains of those deprived of sleep for 24 hours.

Scientists found thata single night of sleep loss (total deprivation) reduces a person’s ability to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant stimuli in the visual working memory, while 4 consecutive nights of sleep limited to 4 hours/night does not reduce this ability nearly as much.  This difference has implications for military commanders assigning personnel in stressful situations.

The cognitive penalty affects not only math and language skills, but also emotional intelligence and soft skills.  Modern understanding of intelligence holds that each individual has multiple types of intelligence – e.g. interpersonal, coping, analytic.  Tests have shown that all types of intelligence fall after sleep deprivation.  The tendency to magical thinking and belief in superstition rises. Which for some people is damaging.

The effect on body weight

Although insufficient sleep is a risk factor for obesity, total sleep deprivation causes weight loss.  Animals that are forced to stay awake lose weight rapidly, and even humans report feeling cold when forced to remain awake for extended periods (humans are not subject to extreme sleep deprivation tests the way animals are, but anecdotal evidence from people who accidentally face total sleep deprivation indicates weight loss.)

How can we resolve this apparent contradiction?  Does sleep loss make us lose weight or gain weight?  Scientific investigation has shown the body uses more energy during periods of sleep loss, but that the rate of energy use depends on the rate of sleep loss.  During total sleep deprivation, the brain accumulates sleep debt at a rapid rate, and energy use is high – so high that the animal or person loses weight.

In the more common situation of partial sleep deprivation – chronic insufficient sleep – the rate of extra energy expenditure is low and the body can accommodate.  Here the effects of the sleep loss on the appetite system swamp any extra energy consumed.

So to sum up:

There seems to be a connection between long term sleep problems and cardiovascular diseases and depression. Sleep deprivation also lowers the immune defense and can cause heightened sensitivity to pain, which can worsen the symptoms of pain diseases like fibromyalgia and arthritis. Sleep deprivation can also be a factor behind elevated blood pressure. Sleep in itself has a reducing effect on blood pressure and with too little sleep the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure is reduced.

Sleep also helps to regulate our feelings of hunger and satisfaction. According to some studies the body’s amount of leptine, a hormone that makes us fell sated, is reduced with less sleep. At the same time the amount of ghrelin, a hormone that makes us feel hungry, increases. So it seems as if there is a connection between sleep deprivation and obesity, and all the diseases that are related to obesity.

Sleep is also important for our body’s ability to take care of free radicals. These molecules are a factor in the aging of cells and seem to increase the risk of cancer.

Sleep is very important, for body, mind and our general well-being. Long term sleep problems often contribute to a lowered quality of life.

A table to sum up for shorter purposes:

Short term effects:

  • Sleepiness
  • Mood swings
  • Short term memory deterioration
  • Diminished ability to come up with, plan and carry out activities
  • Difficulty concentrating

Long term effects:

  • Obesity
  • Early aging
  • Exhaustion
  • Increased risk of infections, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and gastrointestinal diseases
  • Chronic memory loss
  • Weakened immune system



6 thoughts on “Sleep and stuff

  1. this is a good post! i have suffered with depression in the past and sleep (lack of or over) was a big part of the problem!

  2. Very informative! I never really understood how much sleep affected people… Apparently my girlfriend has to take meds to fall asleep… A lot of things make sense now. Thanks :3

  3. My breakdown was mostly caused by sleep deprivation thanks to a sick baby. I daresay I’d have gone completely loopy at some other point, but I know I don’t function well if I’m not sleeping! So I make sure I get my 8 hours, or at least a 4 hour block. I make sure I go to bed at a reasonable time and I set my alarm for each morning to get myself into a normal routine, even if I have absolutely nothing to do that day. It all helps keep my mood stable. As for the comment from JLS about needing to get to know other people with mental health issues…yeah….she means well but it’s one of those things people who don’t understand think they have to do. It’s like all the “church ladies” thought they had to take me out to lunch when I was fresh out of hospital. They took it in turns and it was the most uncomfortable five weeks of my life before they gave up. Just tell JLS that talking things over with someone else who’s actively “ill” is the worst thing possible. You end up feeding into each other’s negativity. What you actually need to do is surround yourself with people who have recovered; who know where you currently are and some steps you can take in order to move on. And seeing as there aren’t too many people in your local neighbourhood who have recovered from BPD (I’m guessing, based on statistics and probablilites), the best thing you can do is avoid her anxious cousin! You can tell her I said so 😀

    • Four hours can get you by and should be the minimum for anyone who can sleep that long. As long as they go back to a routine. It’s important to keep your mood stable which is why when even on medication you should sleep well.

      I feel bad telling her but I will thanks for the advice and I suppose I should remember that not everyone understands but then I think that not everyone with a broken leg wants to hang out with everyone with a broken leg and so it just irritates me.

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