On Matters Of Sleep And The Body

On Matters Of Sleep And The Body

The human body is​ often cited to​ be a​ complex machine, with several subsections that are working in​ conjunction with one another. as​ such, it​ can be seen that there is​ some truth to​ the traditional Chinese medicine concept of​ treating overall balance, rather than individual symptoms. Since all the systems are inevitably interconnected, then what affects one aspect of​ a​ person's physical or​ mental health can also have an​ effect other aspects. While everyone and their grandmother knows that disrupting one's sleep patterns or​ a​ lack of​ sleep can have an​ effect on the body, new research is​ revealing that there may be more side effects than conventional knowledge is​ aware of.

Most people are already aware of​ the more immediate effects of​ sleep problems, such as​ insomnia. There is​ a​ noticeable drop in​ alertness and cognitive ability, which can sometimes appear to​ be cumulative if​ the lack of​ sleep is​ prolonged. Sensory information can sometimes be processed slower than normal. There are also some studies that point to​ partial temporary memory loss as​ an​ effect. The ability to​ control body temperature is​ also disrupted, with some people losing the ability to​ regulate body heat altogether after prolonged periods with disrupted or​ broken sleep cycles. Significant lack of​ sleep has also been known to​ speed up the aging process of​ the skin, making a​ person seem older than they actually are.

However, there are even more problems for those with chronic lack of​ sleep or​ broken sleep cycles. According to​ research recently completed by the U.S. Air Force Office of​ Scientific Research, the metabolism of​ a​ person may also be subject to​ side effects of​ sleep deprivation. There were profound differences in​ the metabolic rates of​ the people who were subjected to​ controlled levels of​ sleep deprivation. The results showed that glucose tolerance, one of​ the key indicators used to​ determine whether someone has diabetes, changed. Rather than showing a​ normal glucose tolerance for their age, the sleep deprived test subjects exhibited the tolerance of​ someone in​ the early stages of​ diabetes. The results seem to​ indicate that the body's ability to​ metabolize glucose is​ hampered by sleep debt.

The results suggest that sleep deprivation may play a​ role in​ the onset of​ diabetes, as​ well as​ being considered as​ a​ possible factor in​ the statistic rise of​ people with diabetes in​ developed countries. Other effects that the study noted included hypertension, more rapid aging of​ skin cells, a​ decreased metabolic rate (which may lead to​ obesity), and various memory-related issues. The study was conducted only on a​ short-term basis (for this type of​ research), lasting only 16 days. it​ is​ speculated that the recorded effects can only get worse if​ the sleep deprivation period was prolonged.

It is​ notable that, unlike studies that have come before it, this research team was not interested in​ the cognitive effects. There has always been speculation on the concrete physical effects of​ a​ lack of​ sleep on the body, but there has never been a​ study dedicated solely to​ pursuing what those effects are. The study is​ actually considered rather timely, mainly because most of​ the working population spends less than the recommended eight hours of​ sleep. While the difference of​ eight hours to​ the average sleep time of​ five hours may not seem that significant, the results emerged from test subjects who were subjected to​ just five hours of​ sleep per 24-hour period.

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