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The Secret Benefits of Sleep Deprivation You Didn’t Know About

The Secret Benefits of Sleep Deprivation You Didn’t Know About

Sleep deprivation is pretty common these days—it’s a major attribute of achievement-oriented societies—but why would anyone have a love-hate relationship with it? Usually, one would say, sleep deprivation and all the accompanying symptoms are the definition of a love-hate relationship, to the core.

Let me tell you something: you can use sleep deprivation for your own benefit. We’ll get into how this works, but first, let’s discuss the phenomenon of sleep, sleep deprivation and its symptoms, and finally design a “how to” experiment about sleep deprivation (commonly known as self-torture), and ask ourselves, more importantly, why?

Sleep: Functionality

“Sleep is a naturally recurring state characterized by reduced or absent consciousness, […] and inactivity of nearly all voluntary muscles.” (Macmillan, 1981). This is a short and clear explanation:

  • sleep is characterized by sleep stages/cycles (five cycles, differing in depth)
  • the deeper your sleep, the better the quality of sleep
  • More Sleep ≠ Better (healthy avg. 7.5-9 hours)

The functions of sleep are very multifaceted and majorly unexplored, but these (validated, and commonly accepted) aspects interest us the most right now. Sleep has a major impact:

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  • on our memory and the ability to re-organize thoughts, experiences and to learn new things (neuroplasticity)
  • on the regulation of necessary hormones and the ability of our body to regenerate physically

What is Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation is the lack of sleep: either it was caused by a very superficial and short sleep (over a period of some days) or by no sleep at all. The functionality and benefits of sleep are limited as a result (see above), and we might face some serious problems, if we stay sleep-deprived for a prolonged period of time.

The effects of sleep deprivation are various; some occur instantly after acute deprivation, other occur only after chronic deprivation:

Sleep deprivation

    (by Mikael Häggström, Wikimedia Commons, 2009)

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    After acute deprivation:

    • irritability
    • cognitive impairment
    • memory lapses
    • restricted judgement
    • severe yawning
    • increased heart-rate variability, increased reaction time and decreased accuracy
    • temporary emotional instability

    After chronic deprivation:

    The effects of chronic deprivation boil down to the development of various diseases, such as:

    • Diabetes
    • heart disease
    • growth suppression
    • restricted immune system functionality
    • weight gain/loss
    • depression

    Due to the diversity of acute deficits, sleep deprivation has been used as a successful interrogation technique. In fact, the U.S. military authorised sleep deprivation as an interrogation method (Leave no Marks: Enhanced Interrogation Techniques and the Risk of Criminality, August 2007).

    But hey, why would there be a love-hate relationship here? What’s the benefit for us?!

    How To (..and the benefits of sleep deprivation?!)

    The effects of sleep deprivation on the human body were observed and analyzed in the 70s: the methodological monitoring involved blood analysis, but also neuropsychological instruments to capture the brain activity during sleep-deprivation and during recovery sleep after deprivation.

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    The results: “There’s evidence of antidepressive effect after sleep deprivation.”As a matter of fact, subjects experienced a 37.2 % improvement in their mood!

    The background of these results are diverse—the reasons behind the remarkable mood improvement are, amongst others:

    • biochemical investigations proved an increase of different hormones, including serotonin and noradrenaline, which are also known to function as a happiness hormone (serotonin) and stimulating hormone (noradrenaline)
    • improved sleep continuity and depth in the night after sleep deprivation

    These mentioned effects take action in depressed but also non-depressed people, meaning that you can stay awake for a night, begin the next day as you usually do and try to keep yourself awake (that’s not very easy!) and go to bed quite early → sleep like a baby → wake up the next morning with more power and energy.

    By depriving yourself of sleep, you set your biological clock to zero— in case your time management is messed up and running out of fuel, this can very helpful (a love-hate relationship). You can call sleep deprivation sleep hacking: at first we abstain from sleep, and later (during the recovery night) we slip into a very deep state of sleep, which will regenerate us.

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    Admittedly, sleep deprivation amongst healthy people is often met with skepticism, mainly because healthy subjects can regulate their sleep pattern in other ways (through nutrition, sleep hygiene and sleep rituals). On the other hand, sleep deprivation is free of any serious side effects and can serve as a quick fix. Here’s a short how-to:

    • Perform your sleep deprivation “experiment” on the weekend (working in a sleep deprived state can be difficult)
    • Keep yourself awake during your sleep deprivation night (and the following day) with the help of tea or coffee, but please don’t overdo it
    • Go to bed early on your sleep-deprived day, and enjoy your deep recovery night (7.5 – 9 hours)
    • Wake up powerful and energized, feeling like a million dollars

    After your sleep deprivation experiment you should take care of a well-balanced diet and good sleeping habits—do not regress to old, negative tendencies. Sleep deprivation for a night can be applied easily, is highly effective and free of serious side effects. Have you already tried it? Share your experience with us!

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    Last Updated on May 21, 2020

    The Top Fad Diets That Are Actually Worth the Hype

    The Top Fad Diets That Are Actually Worth the Hype

    You have probably seen enough fad diets to last a lifetime. Many have become popular overnight and left just as quickly.

    Some fad diets, though, have actually passed the test of time and are making some headway in the nutritional world.

    Outlined below are four fad diets that are actually beneficial for your health and wellness. Read on to find out why you should consider adopting one (or more) of these healthy eating styles today.

    An important concept you should keep in mind is to disregard the term “diet” as it is typically used. The word diet implies the idea of restriction and removal. Instead, think of the word diet in this context as a healthy eating lifestyle.

    Let’s take a look at some of these healthy eating lifestyles that have been categorized, by no fault of their own, as fad diets.

    1. The Paleo Diet

    The paleo diet, or ancestral eating, is simply eating the way your paleolithic ancestors would have up to 10,000 years ago, or when the agriculture age began.

    The advantage now is you don’t have to do this in a loin cloth, unless you want to… The focus of this diet is proteins, vegetables, some fruits, nuts and seeds and some healthy fats.

    In the paleo diet, there aren’t any grains, starchy carbohydrates, sugars, or dairy.

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    How Your Health Can Change With Paleo

    The paleo diet is a good way to keep your blood sugar under control. It can also have a positive effect on type 2 diabetes, and can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

    With this healthy eating lifestyle, people have also achieved good weight loss results and boast improved energy levels. [1]

    It’s not just what’s in the paleo diet that’s important, it’s what’s NOT in it. There aren’t any processed and manufactured foods, junk foods, artificial ingredients or chemical additives.

    Paleo is a way of eating that gets you more in tune with your body and, therefore, can provide a lot of benefits.

    2. Whole30

    The Whole30 diet is relatively new and owes its popularity to social media and the #Whole30 Instagram hashtag that allowed people to share and broadcast their success with the diet.

    With Whole30 you are taking 30 days and focusing on nutritious whole foods such as meats, nuts and seeds, seafood, eggs, vegetables, and fruits.

    During the month you are eliminating:

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    • sugar
    • alcohol
    • legumes
    • grains
    • dairy
    • soy

    Whole30 is similar to paleo, but it goes a bit further eliminating sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup.

    At the end of the 30 days, you strategically reintroduce those eliminated foods back into your diet to discover any possibility of health consequences from them or even potential food allergies.

    Finding Out How Food Impacts You

    Most people eat the same things so often and may not realize that certain foods are causing health consequences, as they’ve become accustomed to feeling lethargic and run down.

    With Whole30 you get the chance to see how these foods may have a negative impact on your body. You’ll also reset your taste buds, which may have become desensitized from processed and artificial “foods” and excess salt.

    This diet will help you regain your love of food… in a healthy way!

    3. The Mediterranean Diet

    The Mediterranean diet has been at the top of the list as a very effective diet for some time now.

    For people in countries like Italy or Greece, this has simply been a normal way of life–along with higher activity levels, sunlight exposure, proximity to water, and lower stress.

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    With the Mediterranean diet, the focus is on heart-healthy foods. It looks like this:

    • Fruits & vegetables
    • Whole grains
    • Legumes & nuts
    • Replacing butter with olive oil
    • Using herbs and spices instead of salt
    • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
    • Moderate amounts of red wine

    Help Your Heart & Overall Health With A Mediterranean Diet

    Information from the Mayo Clinic shows that this diet reduces heart disease and lowers your “bad” LDL cholesterol. Studies involving 1.5 million people demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality, along with overall mortality. [2]

    With all these benefits, this is definitely a “fad diet” that’s worth the hype.

    4. The Alkaline Diet

    The alkaline diet is about changing the foods you eat so that you put your body into an alkaline state and out of an acidic state. When your body is too far on the acidic side it can result in a condition called acidosis. This can lead to issues in your body such as upset stomach, breathing difficulties, headaches, weakness and, fatigue. In extreme cases, it can result in shock, coma, or death.

    The goal is to get your body in a more alkaline state, which results in overall better health. The focus is on including alkaline boosting foods such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, and legumes. You’re also wanting to reduce acidic foods such as low quality beef and poultry, dairy, eggs, grains, and alcohol.

    Pros & Cons With The Alkaline Diet

    The benefits that come from this way of eating is that reduction in inferior quality foods, processed items and alcohol. You may feel improved energy levels, mental clarity and even better joint health.

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    People also report weight loss but again this may come from the reduction in calories from junk and processed foods but this is not a bad thing at all.

    One con with this diet is that the pH value of the food you eat might not have an impact on blood pH, as your body is able to balance this pretty well on a day-to-day basis.

    Follow These Fads for Better Health and Wellness

    There can be a danger in categorizing things as a fad diet because fads come and go. People are always looking for the next big thing or a quick fix.

    The four examples above buck that status quo. These diets, though mainstream, actually can give you benefits and aren’t going to go away anytime soon because they work.

    What makes these diets special is that they boast real whole foods and the eliminate processed and manufactured junk.

    The Big Takeaway:

    Whatever way you choose to eat, the focus needs to be on whole unprocessed foods. Look for the cleanest, local and most natural things you can find for the benefit of your overall health and wellness. Your body and mind will thank you.

    Featured photo credit: Dan Gold via unsplash.com

    Reference

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