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In 2002, I came to the USA to study in a graduate degree at the University of Ohio (m. Afens). One of my greatest impressions was the attitude of many students to sleep. It seemed that many of them were proud of how little they needed to sleep. They believed that written work should be written at the last moment and all night, then prepare for tests.
Of course, in Ukraine, students also do it. But, unlike the majority of Ukrainian universities, tests and written works in the US must be taken from 2 to 5 once a week, and not at the end of the semester. So, a deep lack of sleep turns into a norm for a student.
And the consequences were noticeable. In reading groups, students could barely keep their eyes open. And everywhere - in the library, in classrooms, corridors, cafes, in a clearing, and even in a gym - you could see sleeping students, many with traces of exhaustion on their faces.
How to work 130 hours per week? Strategically sleep and go to the toilet
Life outside the university was not much different in this aspect. What surprised me most was the lack of sleep in the medical profession - the people who should be most aware of its consequences! Doctors, nurses and especially interns worked up to 100 hours a week, which meant that a shift could last up to 30 hours! And no one seemed to be bothered by the fact that they trust various parts of the body to persons with a scalpel or syringe in their hands who have not slept for the second day.
The same attitude was common in the world of business and finance. Investment bankers and stock brokers worked on 90 hours per week. Executive Director Yahoo Marissa Mayer spoke in an interview Bloombergthat when she was in Google, then she worked all night at least once a week. Working 130 hours a week is real, she assured the journalist - all you need to do is "strategically approach when you sleep, wash and go to the toilet."
It was not only doctors and financiers who advised saving on sleep. In the garden where my child went, once a quarter, a leaflet was distributed to parents with advice. One article said: if you want to do more, you sleep less.
Sleepy teens and inattentive children
Not only adults, but also children lack sleep. “All over the world, children sleep an hour less than they did 30 years ago. Price: lower IQ, worse emotional state, attention deficit disorder and being overweight, ”write Poe Bronson and Ashley Merriman in Fostering Shock: A Revolutionary View of Parenting.
Lack of sleep is most common among teenagers. Most teenagers sleep 7-7.5 hours a night, while they need 9-9.5. The reasons for sleep deprivation among 14-18 year olds are familiar to young people around the world: a lot of homework and homework, after school activities, computer games, social media, television. However, in the US, there is an additional reason that helps turn teenagers into "zombies" - early start of school. In 40% of all high school students in the United States (high school) The first lesson starts on or before 8 AM. In adolescents, in contrast to children and adults, the sleep hormone melatonin begins to be produced not after dark, but after 90 minutes. Formerly 11: 00 PM Evenings for a teenager, if desired, it is difficult to fall asleep.
Experiments with the start of classes at least an hour later showed numerous benefits for young people. They learn better, become kinder, less prone to depression and conflict. In the city of Lexington, Kentucky, after shifting the start time of classes, it was also recorded at 16.5% fewer road crashes involving teenagers. In our school district, the start of high school classes was moved to 8: 00 only in 2014 year (it was 7: 20).
Consequences of lack of sleep
One of the most widely known consequences of a lack of sleep is forgetfulness. During sleep, information and impressions received during the day are stored in different parts of the brain. And this requires all phases of sleep. For example, when learning a foreign language, new words are memorized in one phase, and pronunciation in another.
In a study of the sleep of seven thousand children by researchers at the University of Minnesota, the results of which are cited in "educational shock", it turned out that, on average, excellent students slept 15 minutes more than good students, and those - 15 minutes more than C students.
Lack of sleep hits the so-called "Executive function" , which is responsible for the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This is the ability to think over your actions, do them according to plan, foresee the consequences and get the result. In a Tel Aviv University study, which is also cited in Fostering Shock, sixth graders who were deprived of only one hour of sleep a night had cognitive abilities that fell to the level of a well-sleeping fourth grader in less than a week.
Also suffers ability to focus and maintain attention. In one study, scientists tested the cognitive abilities of people who sleep 4, 6, and 8 watches. As it turned out, for those who do not get enough, they decline every day until they reach a consistently low level.
Moreover, people who sleep little often themselves do not notice how their cognitive abilities and well-being are deteriorating. Forgetfulness? Irritability? Craftsmanship is not right? What do you want when old age is on the doorstep, and everything is bad in the country? In fact, instead of getting used to a lack of sleep, the norm of one's own well-being and efficiency decreases, as well as an accumulation of sleep deficit. In other words, the bar falls, but the person does not notice it or takes it for granted.
But for me or for someone I know this is not the case, someone might say. Yes, I also know a person who sleeps 4-5 hours a day and achieves remarkable results in all areas of life. Some of the lucky ones on this planet have what they call "healthy insomnia." They are able to sleep very little without any loss to health and performance. This phenomenon is purely genetic and it is impossible to develop healthy insomnia in oneself - only unhealthy. Therefore, do not let yourself be blackmailed by Napoleon, Michelangelo, Margaret Thatcher and other "genetic mutants".
Also sleep strengthens the immune system in a dream, the cells are updated (repaired), aging is significantly slowed down and appearance is improved. Any woman has repeatedly put this scientific experiment on herself, hiding his results under a thick layer of foundation.
In a dream Emotional state is overloaded... Negative emotions and memories are memorized in the amygdala, and positive ones - in the hypothalamus, which suffers more from lack of sleep than the amygdala, as described in the book by Poe Bronson and Ashley Merriman.
According to my own theory, the low status of women in many societies, at least since the beginning of civilization, is partly due to the fact that they gave birth to children almost every year, and therefore suffered all the consequences of a significant and prolonged lack of sleep. They were considered stupid, unable to control their emotions, less capable - all that surprisingly coincide with the consequences of a lack of sleep. Today in the US, while women in all age groups have less free time than men, they sleep a little more.
And one more consequence of lack of sleep. - excess weight. Insomnia activates the hormone ghrelin, which is responsible for appetite and suppresses the hormone leptin, which signals the brain that the stomach is already full and can stop eating. As a result, people who sleep little, even if they consume the same amount of calories, are gaining weight.
Americans convinced more sleep
In the United States, more and more studies are being conducted and published that show the devastating health effects of sleep deprivation. In 1989, the year after it was determined that the lack of sleep at the New York Hospital staff caused the death of a teenager, New York State limited the number of hours interns could work to 80. Later, restrictions were imposed on the duration of the work of medical staff at the federal level.
On television, sellers of drugs for insomnia, mattresses and pillows in advertising their product actively refer to the results of research, bringing the importance of sleep to millions of viewers.
Editor-in-chief and founder of the online edition Huffington Post Arianna Guffington argues that a revolutionary change in attitudes towards sleep is taking place in the United States. She herself, as a busy, successful woman and a mother of two children, for a long time managed 3-4 hours of sleep a day. Finding herself once in a pool of blood - from exhaustion, Guffington simply fainted and fell - she decided to change her life and the lives of millions of Americans. In her book, presentations, and interviews, she actively promotes proper sleep. She believes that it will soon be fashionable to show off good sleep - as well as a healthy diet and regular exercise.
And the Americans are listening. According to measurements of time use, over the past 14 years, Americans began to sleep on 17 minutes more every night. However, at least a third of all US residents still suffer from lack of sleep.
The original column is published on the website. Ukrainian Service “Голоса America".
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