In Part One of this three-part series on sleep, the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on the cellular system, the immune system, the cardiovascular system and the skin was covered. In this article readers will learn about what happens in the hormone systems and the brain and nervous system when people suffer sleep deprivation.
Cholesterol is produced by the liver at night. Cholesterol is an important component in almost every cell of our bodies. It is involved the construction of all the hormones that flow through our bodies, all very necessary for repair and new cell production. Readers are bombarded with advertising that in tell them how important it is to keep their cholesterol levels in check. And that's true, but a certain amount of cholesterol is necessary for the body to continue its processes.
Human growth hormone (HGH) is one of the many hormones produced while we sleep. (Granted it wanes as we age, and exercise is a component to producing it, but sleep is still an important factor.) HGH keeps us strong and resilient longer. The less we produce the faster we age. Exercise and getting enough sleep help us encourage precursors for HGH.
Weight gain: Leptin is a hormone that helps us stay thin, and ghrelin is one that makes us hungry. If leptin levels dip from lack of sleep, we become irresistibly hungry, especially for those high-carb “comfort foods,” and start noshing, which can lead to love handles of a more generous size than we would like them to be. Getting enough sleep is paramount for keeping leptin levels healthy
Brain and nervous systems
During rapid eye movement phase REM sleep is when the brain is thought to be integrating the day’s events and making memory connections in the synapses. The ability to remember, concentrate, and focus are severely limited when people are sleep deprived.
Debra L. Gordon writes in Seven Days to a Perfect Night’s Sleep, “Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Exxon Valdez, the space shuttle Challenger – each of these names brings to mind images of horrific disaster. Did you know each was related, at least in part, to sleep problems?” She goes on to claim, “Thirty-one percent of commercial truck crashes that were fatal to the driver were caused by drowsiness. Sleepy drivers cause at least 100,000 police-reported crashes, 40,000 injuries, and 1,550 fatalities a year. Fall-asleep crashes may kill more young Americans than alcohol-related crashes.”
Epworth Sleepiness Scale
The Epworth Sleepiness Scale is used to determine the level of daytime sleepiness. A score of 10 or more is considered sleepy. A score of 18 or more is very sleepy. If you score 10 or more on this test, you should consider whether you are obtaining adequate sleep, need to improve your sleep hygiene and/or need to see a sleep specialist. These issues should be discussed with your personal physician.
Use the following scale to choose the most appropriate number for each situation:
0 = would never doze or sleep.
1 = slight chance of dozing or sleeping
2 = moderate chance of dozing or sleeping
3 = high chance of dozing or sleeping
Print out this test, fill in your answers and see where you stand.
Situation Chance of Dozing or Sleeping
Sitting and reading ____
Watching TV ____
Sitting inactive in a public place ____
Being a passenger in a motor vehicle for an hour or more ____
Lying down in the afternoon ____
Sitting and talking to someone ____
Sitting quietly after lunch (no alcohol) ____
Stopped for a few minutes in traffic while driving ____
Total score (add the scores up, this is your Epworth score) ____
Taking this test is a highly accurate way of assessing your need to catch up on your sleep.
Ways to get enough sleep at night will be covered in Part Three of the sleep report.
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