Essentials for Healthy Living: Peaceful Sleep
It is 6 AM and the beginning of a series of irritating alarm tunes, each following the other by a five minute gap. The alarms keep ringing, accompanied in the background by my sister’s constant mumbling (rather grumbling), admonishing me for not getting up. I just bury my head under the pillow in return.
Well, that’s precisely how my day starts and I eventually get up boggy-eyed and lousy as ever. The reason: lack of sleep. Incomplete tasks and inability to meet deadlines are what make me and a million others like me to burn the midnight oil since cutting back on sleep seems like the most pertinent option to survive the daily bombardment of endless duties. The question is whether it is in any way sensible to deprive oneself of sleep? “No”, researchers declare in a loud chorus!
Scientists at the University of Wisconsin, USA, set out to study the sleepy brain on rat models. They first sleep-deprived the rats by placing distracting colorful toys in their cages, simultaneously monitoring their cortical activity via an Electro-encephalogram (EEG). As the rats grew tired and sleepy, the EEG displayed slow-wave activity in the brain’s neuronal cells-emulating the neuronal activity during sleep which follows a similar slow-wave pattern.
To test the effects of “neuronal tiredness” on performance, the researchers trained the rats during their sleep-deprivation period to carry out a certain task that involved reaching out for a sugar pellet. A rat’s likelihood of success dropped by nearly 38% when neurons anywhere in the motor cortex turned off within a split second before a rat tried to reach for a sugar pellet. The overall number of such misses, as expected, increased significantly with prolonged wakefulness.
These results suggest a strong likelihood that tired neurons might be accountable for the attention lapses, poor judgment, mistake-proneness and irritability that we experience when we haven’t had enough sleep, yet don’t feel particularly sleepy.
Consider this: An estimated 70 million people in the US alone suffer from sleep disorders. If you are blessed enough to enjoy a peace-laden blissful sleep, don’t take it for granted and inculcate good sleeping habits in yourself and in your family for a healthier lifestyle. Go ahead and sleep like a baby, oblivious to the worries of this world.
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