(crédito: Kinga Cichewicz/Unsplash)

Sleep is the best medicine: the consequences of lack of sleep on the body

Published on 08/28/2022 00:01 / Updated on 08/29/2022 16:54

(Credit: Kinga Cichewicz/Unsplash)

Sleep affects our daily functioning and health in many ways, as during the night the body performs vital functions of the body. Good sleep – called rest – provides physical and cognitive disposition, as well as energy to perform daily tasks, immunity, focus, stress reduction, and is thus crucial to a good quality of life.

Mônica Müller, a sleep psychologist who specializes in behavior analysis, explains that a person who enjoys restful sleep maintains other good habits in their routine through a chain reaction. Doing physical activities, health care and performing functions at work, for example, stimulating sleep, making the mind exercise them. “A person who has good sleep will automatically develop other good habits.”

Most of the time, people who suffer from insomnia do not engage in physical activity, postpone simple activities and do not keep a healthy watch, which is detrimental to the routine in general and they have difficulty getting out of this cycle.

Sleep acts as a “cleaning” period for the brain. Endocrinology and Metabolism Bruno Papito explains that in addition to neurons, there are other very important cells of the nervous system that work in a similar way to the white blood cells in our blood: they defend and keep the brain safe and healthy by phagocytizing invaders. And the dead or defective cells that need to be removed – they act as a kind of brain cleaning.

Important sleep functions

It restores the wear and tear of wakefulness – the moment we wake up. Sleep produces a state that allows the cleaning of metabolic waste and neurotoxins produced by the brain through the lymphatic system.

– Conserve energy

– Activates the immune system and tissue repair

Consolidates knowledge gained while awake

Maintains neurocognitive functions. Individuals with sleep limitations may develop attention deficits and have impaired executive function, creativity, memory, and functioning.

It regulates emotionally. There is excessive activation of the limbic system – the part of the brain that processes emotions – during dreams, indicating that sleep is essential for emotional processing, and effectively supporting mental health.

How many hours should you sleep each night?

The ideal amount of sleep is a very individual thing. To create a sleep routine, the most appropriate thing is to organize the schedule of activities in general – eating, work and exercise – and to create a pattern of the body’s schedules, thus adapting the time of bed and wake up. Although adults need an average of 8 hours of sleep each night, there are those who make do with 6 hours and others who need 10, for example. The number of hours also varies with the life span. In growth and development, a newborn may need up to 18 hours of sleep per day.

Consequences of a bad night’s sleep

Much more than daily exhaustion, lack of sleep liberates the whole body. Blood pressure rises, cortisol and adrenaline levels rise, and white blood cell counts rise. Irregular white blood cells damage the immune system and make us more susceptible to infections. Inadequate sleep affects weight control and makes us more susceptible to diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and depression.

good sleep ritual

To establish a sleep routine, you first need to set a regular time to go to bed – and to wake up, too.
– Next, choose the appropriate environment, avoiding excessive lighting and external noise. The temperature should be appropriate and the bed and pillow comfortable.
Before going to bed, start by relaxing your body. A warm bath, comfortable clothes, meditation, reading and hot drinks can be a great ally. Turning off electronic devices at least an hour before bed and not checking the time throughout the night will also help establish this rhythm. Fatigue and drowsiness are very important components of getting a good night’s rest. Going to bed without sleep is a behavior that should be avoided so as not to cause initial insomnia.


For a better experience at night, there are precautions that can be taken during the day. Naps should be no longer than 20 minutes.
To help regulate your biological rhythm, exposing yourself to sunlight can be a great exercise, especially when doing physical activity.
The intake of energy foods, such as caffeine, should not exceed 3 pm, and alcoholic beverages and heavy meals should not be consumed close to bedtime.
Repetitive physical activities improve sleep quality, but it is recommended to finish the exercise at least three hours before bed.

How to identify unrefreshing sleep

In order to get good sleep, wake up prepared, rest, and have the energy to go about your normal daily activities, it is essential that you not be fragmented.
Fatigue, irritability, headaches, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, impaired cognitive function, and excessive daytime sleepiness are signs that sleep is inadequate.
It is believed that there are more than 70 sleep-related disorders such as hormonal imbalances, weight gain, decreased libido, and decreased immunity.

sleep quality assessment

Clinical evaluation: Information from the patient and those who sleep together can help identify signs, symptoms, and nocturnal behaviors associated with breathing problems that occur during sleep (snoring, pauses in breathing, coughing), sleep-related movement disorders (leg movement, insomnia, gnashing of teeth). Information on lifestyle, daytime naps and their duration; time and type of work; sedentary lifestyle; Use of antidepressants and stimulants. Eating habits are also important in this analysis.

sleep diary: Consists of a recording form and daily monitoring of sleep habits and schedules. Filling should be done by the patient on a daily basis and retrospectively. It is an aid in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders, through the personal description of the patient.

sleep planning: This test allows you to objectively assess various sleep parameters, such as breathing (respiratory disturbances), blood oxygen, nocturnal movement, snoring, heart rate, sleep phases (sleep architecture), small wake and wake (sleep safety), muscle activity (Limb movements).

Expert word

Can medications be used to help treat insomnia?
Regarding the use of melatonin, which is widely available, it will depend on medical evaluation. It may be advisable to use melatonin in relieving the symptoms of primary insomnia – when the insomnia cannot be attributed to any environmental condition – or medical – when you only have insomnia and nothing else. However, before medications are recommended, advice on good sleep hygiene, cognitive and behavioral therapies, and alternative therapies such as yoga, acupuncture, and meditation should be given. For secondary insomnia or other diseases associated with it, there are other treatment methods that are specific to each patient.

Why is sleep so important to the process of losing weight or gaining mass?
Short sleep time, which is very common in modern societies, is a predisposing factor for the onset of obesity. Decreased sleep time can modify the endocrine pattern that signals hunger and satiety by lowering leptin levels, increasing ghrelin levels, and even changing food choices. In this way, modifying the sleep pattern can lead to endocrine disorders that lead to the appearance of obesity. Those who don’t get a good night’s sleep can consume up to 500 calories more than they normally would.

In fact, those who sleep about 8 hours a night reduce their exposure to food and feel the same hunger, compared to someone who sleeps only 5 hours a day, for example. This higher calorie consumption for a person who sleeps less is justified by the fact that the satiety hormone (leptin) is low, while the hunger hormone (ghrelin) is high. Those who do not sleep well also suffer losses in the production of GH in the body. A deficiency of this substance makes it difficult for muscles to grow.

Bruno Papito is an endocrinologist specializing in metabolism

* Trainee under the supervision of Sybil Negromonte

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