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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.

Фото: Depositphotos

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 the classrooms, corridors, cafes, in the meadow and even in the gym - one could see sleeping students, many with signs 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. Most of all I was amazed at the lack of sleep among the representatives of the medical profession - people who should be most aware of its consequences! Doctors, nurses and especially interns worked up to 100 hours a week, which meant that the shift could go on until 30 hours! And no one seemed to be bothered by the fact that they trusted various parts of the body to people with a scalpel or syringe in their hands, who have not slept for the second day.

Фото: Depositphotos

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 Googleit worked all night long at least once a week. Working on 130 hours a week is real, she assured the journalist - for this you only need to “strategically approach when you sleep, wash and go to the toilet”.

To save on a dream advised not only doctors and financiers. In the garden where my child went, a leaflet for parents with tips was distributed once a quarter. One article said: if you want to be in time more, sleep less.

Sleepy teens and inattentive children

Not only adults, but also children are getting enough sleep. “Around the world, children sleep an hour less than 30 years ago. Price: lower IQ, worse emotional state, attention deficit disorder and overweight, ”write Po Bronson and Ashley Merrimen in the book“ Educational Shock: A Revolutionary Look at the Upbringing of Children and Adolescents. ”

Фото: Depositphotos

The most common lack of sleep among adolescents. Most teenagers sleep 7-7.5 hours per day, whereas they need 9-9.5. The reasons for the lack of sleep among 14-18-year-olds are familiar to young people around the world: many lessons and homework, after-school activities, computer games, social media, television. However, in the US there is an additional reason that helps to turn teens into “zombies” - an early start to school. In 40% of all high schools in the USA (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 well-known effects of lack of sleep is the general public. 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 remembered at one phase, and pronunciation - at another.

Studying the sleep of seven thousand children by researchers at the University of Minnesota, the results of which are given in “educational shock”, it turned out that on average, excellent students slept for 15 minutes more than horoshisty, and those for 15 minutes more than troechnik.

Фото: Depositphotos

Lack of sleep hits the so-called "Executive function" for which the prefrontal cortex is responsible. This is the ability to think over your actions, make them according to plan, foresee the consequences and get a result. In a study by Tel Aviv University, which is also given in the book “Educational Shock”, the cognitive abilities of sixth-graders, deprived of only one hour of sleep per night, in less than a week fell to the level of a well-sleeping fourth-grader.

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 do not themselves notice how their cognitive abilities and well-being deteriorate. Forgetfulness? Irritability? Mastery is not it? What did you want when old age is on the threshold, and in the country - everything is bad? In fact, instead of getting used to the lack of sleep, there is a decrease in the rate of one’s own well-being and efficiency, as well as an accumulation of sleep deficit. In other words - the bar falls, but the person does not notice this or takes it for granted.

Фото: Depositphotos

But for me or for someone I know, it is not, someone can say. Yes, I also know a person who sleeps 4-5 hours a day and achieves remarkable results in all walks of life. Some lucky people on this planet have what is called “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. So 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 remembered in the amygdala, and positive - in the hypothalamus, which is more amigdal suffers from lack of sleep, as stated in the book By Bronson and Ashley Merrimen.

Фото: Depositphotos

According to my own theory, the low status of women in many societies, starting at least from the beginning of civilization, is partly explained by the fact that they gave birth to children almost every year, and therefore suffered from 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 coincides with the consequences of a lack of sleep. Today in the US, although 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 in the United States there is a revolutionary change in attitudes towards sleep. She herself as a busy, successful woman and a mother of two children for a long time treated 3-4 for hours of sleep per day. Finding herself once in a pool of blood - from exhaustion, Guffington just 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 a full-fledged dream. She believes that it will soon become fashionable to show off a 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".

ForumDaily is not responsible for the content of blogs and may not share the views of the author. If you want to become the author of the column, send your materials to

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