Lightnes & Darkness – The Neural Relationship Between Light and Sleep

Lightnes & Darkness – The Neural Relationship Between Light and Sleep

Sleep is hugely important for health, and anyone who has slept poorly for a few nights can attest that both body and soul are not feeling well.

Swedish researchers have done a study of 15 young healthy men to see how sleepless nights affected their brains. The analysis showed, among other things, that only one night's sleep deprivation increased in the blood levels of a protein linked to Alzheimer's disease.

After a night of poor sleep, genes in different cells and tissues in the body that control the biological clock change. This increases the risk of diabetes and obesity, according to new Swedish research. Researchers looked at what happens in the body of those who sleep too little, work shifts, or sleep at the wrong times. The conclusion was that those who sleep irregularly or too little risk of becoming overweight or developing type-2 diabetes.

When darkness descends upon our winter landscape – then we become even more tired. Maria Nordin, a researcher at the Department of Psychology at Umeå University, explains why the dark season affects us and why poor sleep is so dangerous for us.

Researchers around the world have recently begun to understand why sleep is essential to our well-being and why a lack of sleep can lead to physical and mental illness. Relative new research shows that our memory is built on during the night, and we get easier to learn. It seems that the brain cleanses itself and is washed during sleep. The researchers have also seen an increase in the growth hormones that repair our cells. In other words, there are several good things about sleeping.

The researcher at the Department of Psychology at Umeå University, Maria Nordin, has touched on both work-related and general health psychology. Since a disturbed night’s sleep may be indicative of other ill-health, she has looked at what sleep and lack of sleep can have for positive and negative effects. 

Critical processes in the brain

In an interview on Umeå University’s website, Maria Nordin says that it is essential to be able to sleep so that all these processes can have their time and take the time needed for us to feel good.

– In the past, it has been said that you may not need to sleep as much as recommended, but there is more and more research showing that we need to sleep quite a lot to bring about all the processes in the body during the night. The body does not rest, but it does other things than it does during the day. We need both the processes that happen at night and those that occur during the day, explains Maria Nordin.

When we sleep too little, both learning ability and concentration ability deteriorate. Research shows that fatigue syndrome and depression can be caused by insomnia. Also, physical illnesses involving the heart and vessels can occur when sleep does not work for an extended period.

Follow the biological rhythm

In winter, most people feel tired due to the darkness. We don’t need to sleep anymore. The physiological reason why we are tired is because the sleep hormone melatonin is secreted when it is dark, which means that when the daylight disappears, the sleep hormone increases, and we would like to sleep.

Getting up early or sleeping for a while in the afternoon can put it off for the night’s sleep. Creating regular habits usually causes the body to follow its biological rhythm.

That is to get up and go to bed at the same time, even on the weekend. Eating at regular intervals and trying was out when it’s bright in the day.

– The biological clock is affected by the light, and when it is a little light, it can be disturbed so that we find it more difficult to sleep even if we are tired, and it is dark. It is enough for a half-hour walk in the morning, even when it is cloudy, preferably every day to make it easier to set the biological clock, says Maria Nordin.

An attitude issue

What negatively affects sleep is stress and that we are physically active. So even though it is dark and the melatonin is secreted in the body, you can also have a high content of the stress hormone cortisol. Then it is usually difficult to go down laps and fall asleep. If you are easy to fall asleep but wake up in the middle of the night, they are generally because your cortisol was too high when you fell asleep. When you get up in the morning, the cortisol rises quickly, and you feel alert and alert. If you sleep too long in the morning, the cortisol can be tough to get started. Balance and regularity are keywords for good sleep and well-being.

– It is perhaps a question of the attitude to be able to cope with that darkness. You have to be a little kind to yourself when you get tired if you don’t push yourself too much but have a little cozy, says Maria Nordin. Sleep deprivation sleep deprivation symptoms how does sleep deprivation affect health signs of sleep deprivation

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