Sleep and health: the rules of good sleep

Each and every is familiar with plans’ failures, relations spoiagel, work and study problems - and that’s all because we don’t sleep well. The 25 years that an average person spends on sleeping during life have a direct effect on the quality of waking up. So what are the rules of good sleep, allowing you to live long, be as effective as possible and maintain good health? 

How much sleep do we need? 

Scientists from Finland conducted an experiment: four thousand subjects were watched for 7 years. The specialists recorded the connection between the changes in the body's work and the duration of sleep. Men who sleep for at least 7 hours and 42 minutes per day were found to be the most resistant to diseases, and the optimal duration of sleep for women was 7 hours and 38 minutes per day. 

In another experiment, researchers from Arizona, USA, denied the participants access to hours and light: their bodies had to decide when to go to bed and how long to sleep. As a result, subjects went to bed two hours earlier than they were used to in a "civilized" life, and the average duration of sleep was 7 hours and 20 minutes. 

Thus, the average recommended duration of sleep for an adult is 7-8 hours per day. The amount of sleep required depends on age. According to the generally accepted norms, an annual baby should sleep 12-15 hours, a 10-year-old child - 9-11 hours, a 15-year-old - 8-10 hours. 

At the same time, modern research shows that there is a genetic predisposition to sleep duration. Scientists from the University of Munich have identified two variants of the gene ABCC9, which carries information about the protein SUR2, which is responsible for the energy processes in cells. Holders of the first variant of the gene needed a longer sleep than the "owners" of the second variant. It also turned out that the protein SUR2 is associated not only with the body's need for sleep, but also the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, such as diabetes mellitus. According to scientists, this may explain the connection between sleep disturbance and disease progression. 

Where to sleep? 

Research conducted at the Edinburgh Sleep Center with 2000 British couples has shown how the colour of the bedroom walls affects the duration of sleep. 

It turned out that the longest sleeping time (7:52 a.m.) was spent by the people who had decorated the bedroom in blue tones. Yellow (7 hours and 40 minutes), green (7 hours and 36 minutes), silver (7 hours and 33 minutes) and orange (7 hours and 28 minutes) also have a positive effect on sleep. Those who choose red (6 hours 58 minutes), gold (6 hours 43 minutes), grey (6 hours 12 minutes) and brown (6 hours 5 minutes) are sleeping worse. The most unsuitable color for the bedroom walls is purple, which reduces the average length of sleep to 5 hours and 56 minutes. 

According to experts, the color of the walls affects the duration of sleep due to the impact on the neurons of the retina, and through them - on the brain. Other studies have shown that blue has a positive effect on the nervous system and the body as a whole: it helps to relax, calm down, slow down the heartbeat and lower blood pressure. 

Another important aspect is the temperature in the bedroom. According to researchers from the Johns Hopkins University Sleep Center, the optimal temperature for a good night's sleep is 18-20 °C. 

Sleep on what? 

Sleep experts say that the choice of a mattress is very important, because we will spend a third of our lives on it. The degree of hardness/softness of a mattress in a healthy person depends on individual preferences and does not affect the quality of sleep. In case there are any problems, first of all, with the spine, it is better to buy a special orthopedic mattress. Special orthopaedic pillows also help with back pain: their choice depends on which part of the spine has problems. 

It is recommended to change the mattress every 10 years or more often - if you feel that the mattress is "worn out" and does not perform supporting functions. It is recommended to change the pillows every two years. Also, according to experts, a good night's sleep is promoted by clean bed linen. Both the subjective feeling of "freshness" and the reduction of the risk of allergic diseases are important - dandruff, dust and skin particles quickly accumulate in the underwear. Therefore, it is recommended to change clothes at least once a week, as well as regularly vacuum the mattress. 

What should I sleep in? 

Pajamas, nightgown, underwear - experts believe that any clothes are suitable for sleeping, it’s essential to be loose fit and made of natural fabrics. If you're sweating at night, it's better to use cotton or linen, if you're cold, flannel. Another important rule is that clothes should only be used for sleeping and should be worn before going to bed. This should be a kind of ritual that helps the brain tune in to sleep. 

Who to sleep with? 

Experts from the University of Surrey (England) believe that it is much more useful to sleep alone. Their research proves that people sleeping together "do not get" up to 47 minutes of sleep every night, which is associated with the movements of a partner in his sleep, snoring, etc. 

At the same time, other studies have found that sleeping together is two percent better than sleeping alone - it reduces stress, especially on women - but it requires trust between partners. It is also crucial to have the right place to sleep together. For example, in some cases it is worth thinking about buying separate mattresses: for instance, if the partners have significantly different body weights, there are different health problems, etc. 

Sleep professionals do not share a common opinion about sleeping together with pets. Among the arguments "against" are the risk of allergic reactions, as well as the increase in body temperature associated with the proximity of the pet, which negatively affects the quality of sleep. At the same time, a number of studies show that although people in the company of a four-legged friend may fall asleep longer, the effectiveness of sleep (the ratio of time spent in sleep to time spent in bed) is 81% at 80%. It also turned out that the quality of sleep of small dog owners is 0.3% worse than the quality of sleep in the company of a pet weighing more than 50 kg. 

How to sleep? 

Does the sleeping position matter? Specialists from Johns Hopkins University believe that healthy young people can sleep well in any position. At the same time, some postures can exacerbate a number of problems. For example, sleeping on the back is not recommended for neck pains, snoring and apnoea (spontaneous sleep apnea), a situation that contributes to further narrowing of the respiratory tract. 

At the same time, sleeping on the back is a way to avoid early wrinkles: when the face comes into contact with the pillow, the face looks "wrinkled" in the morning, and over time, the deformation of the facial tissues may become persistent. The posture on the right side is not recommended for people suffering from gastroesophageal reflux (throwing gastric juice into the esophagus) - for them sleep on the left side is preferable. 

When to get up: Can an owl become a lark? 

People are divided into two categories: those who can easily fall asleep before midnight and get up with the first rays of the sun, and those whose body resists this regime in every possible way. What distinguishes "early birds" from lovers of night vigils and late awakening? 

Scientists from California have conducted research, which involved more than 89 thousand people. Specialists analyzed the data obtained during the questionnaire survey, as well as the results of genetic tests. It turned out that the older the people, the more larks they had: only 24% of those under 30 preferred early rises, and 63% of those over 60 preferred early rises. It was also found out that "owls" among the strong sexes are 9% more frequent than among women. 

The study showed that larks are generally healthier and happier than night-time predators. They are 18% less likely to have insomnia, their sleep is stronger, and they often have seven hours of sleep per day to sleep properly. Morning people are also less likely to suffer from depression and weight problems, both overweight and underweight. Another study by Austrian oncologists has shown that women who prefer to get up early are less likely to develop breast cancer. 

Genetic analysis revealed 15 areas in the genome that in one way or another affect the time of the greatest activity of their carriers. Almost half of the identified areas are related to the regulation of daily biorhythms. Among them were, for example, the genes responsible for converting the light signal that enters the eye into a pulse that affects brain activity. Scientists believe that it is the presence of certain combinations of genes that doubles the likelihood that a person will be able to stand up easily in the morning. 

However, despite the genetic and biochemical predisposition to nightlife, experts believe that "owls" have the opportunity to "correct" their biorhythms: 

  • Start to get up an hour earlier than usual, gradually increasing the "shift" up to three hours; 

  • Do not sleep during the daytime and go to bed, respectively, an hour, two or three earlier than usual; 

  • Keep the mode not only on weekdays, but also on weekends;

  • For "transition from owls to larks" it’s crucial to eat: breakfast immediately after waking up, lunch at the same time and dinner not later than seven hours - a fixed meal will help in the formation of biological rhythms. 

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