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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 February 17, 2020

    5 Reasons Why You Should Always Be Who You Are

    5 Reasons Why You Should Always Be Who You Are

    When it comes to being yourself, there can be a lot of pressure from the outside world as it tries to influence who you are. Living in a society that is constantly developing, it’s important for you to always be yourself from the inside out.

    When you deeply know yourself and the boundaries that you have set, you are more likely to experience a fulfilling and rewarding life. Without knowing yourself and establishing those boundaries, you can easily be pushed around and end up on a dirt path.

    So how to be who you are and always be yourself?

    “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” – Matthew 7:13-14

    You have the option of taking the path that is broad or taking the path that is narrow. You can either conform to what life wants you to be, or have the courage to remain true to yourself throughout the years. It’s definitely a challenge to have a strong sense of self when we are constantly getting distracted and being influenced by the media and society’s way of life. But if you want to reach your fullest potential in life, it all starts with being yourself.

    Why should you always be yourself? Because you will:

    1. Live in Alignment With Your Values and Beliefs

    Being yourself is all about knowing what you believe in and the values that you live by. When you are not yourself, you will take on the values and beliefs of others. This is when you start conforming to other people’s expectations and way of thinking.

    When you know your values and why you do what you do, you will live according to your own values and beliefs.

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    2. Establish Your Own Identity

    When you are able to have a solid foundation of being you, you are establishing your own sense of identity. No matter what happens in your life, you will always know who you are.

    There will be times where you may feel lost or distracted, but if you have your own identity you’ll be able to get back on the right path. Without establishing your own identity, you may easily conform and lose yourself.

    3. Build Courage

    It takes a great amount of courage when you decide to take the path that goes against the crowd. The reason why the majority of people take the broad path is because it’s easy.

    It’s easy to just follow the crowd. It’s more of a challenge when you stay true to yourself and establish your own identity. This challenge of always being yourself takes courage and inner strength. No matter what comes your way, you’ll know how to handle it.

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    4. Establish Boundaries

    When you are always yourself, you know what your limits are and the boundaries that you have set for yourself. When people cross your boundaries, you will know.

    But if you don’t establish boundaries, people may very well walk all over you and take advantage of you. If you are always yourself and you establish boundaries, you are more likely to be aware when people start taking advantage of you.

    Create and establish your boundaries.

    5. Find Focus and Direction

    When you are always yourself, you are more likely to have focus and direction in your life. Imagine someone who is constantly conforming to other people’s expectations, do you think this person has focus and direction? I don’t think so.

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    When you stay true to who you are, you are more likely to know the goals you want to accomplish and how to go about accomplishing them. You are able to stay focused and know which direction to take in order for you to accomplish your goals.

    No matter what you experience in life, the only person that will always remain constant is you.

    More Tips about Staying True to Yourself

    Featured photo credit: María Victoria Heredia Reyes via unsplash.com

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