A sufficient night sleep is a passport and a shield of mental and physical health at all ages, spending a third of our life systematizing thoughts and memories in the brain, repairing damage and regulating the endocrine mechanisms in a harmonious synergy with each other for energy production. Information about day and night is transmitted from the eyes to light-sensitive cells in the brain, regulating sleep and wake times as a biological clock with melatonin secreted in natural darkness, regulating the circadian rhythms of the body’s functions according to sleep or wakefulness phases.
The excellent functioning of the biological clock imposes a fixed starting time of continuous sleep no later than eleven at night and indeed of at least seven hours, with a fixed wake-up time and no midday siesta for adults. Otherwise, it causes fatigue, anxiety, irritability and lethargy, as well as an increased incidence of type 2 diabetes, cancers, coronary heart disease, strokes, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, kidney failure, liver disease, depression, dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
Insufficient night sleep dampens the response of the hormonal regulators of appetite, with an increased feeling of hunger and a tendency to obesity as psychological overeating. Fifty-year-old persons with less than five hours of sleep a night are 20% more likely to be diagnosed with a chronic disease and 40% more likely to be diagnosed with a multimorbidity over 25 years, altering the DNA structure of immune stem cells with the onset of inflammatory disorders, causing a heavy burden on health systems.
In infants, toddlers and children, the duration of sleep should be at least 9, 10 to 12 hours depending on the age as the lack and poor quality of sleep reduces memory and attention, causing dysfunctional behaviors. Conversely, sleeping for 9 or more hours may also increase cardiovascular risk as the balance during nocturnal sleep is disrupted to maintain the adequacy of the body clock to regulate circadian rhythms.
Interrupted sleep reduces the secretion of growth hormone, causing immune dysfunction, while sleeping less than 6 hours quadruples impulsive behavior compared to 8 hours of sleep, while a normal night’s sleep in duration and quality contributes to mental health as a component of well-being in one’s arms Morphea, fighting corona insomnia, as during the pandemic sleep was negatively affected in terms of quality and quantity, with many sleep disorders.
Lack of sleep causes diseases, but diseases also lead to poor sleep in a “vicious circle” that works against cardiovascular health, which is why sleep must be an imperative priority in Public Health Policies, acting preventively and not therapeutically.
Professor of Dermatology
President Hippocratic Academy of Thermal Medicine
President World Academy of Chinese & Complimentary Medicine