Are you getting enough sleep? Today, in an effort to better understand the role of sleep in our lives, I ask a very basic question: What happens when our heads hit the pillow at night?
While this article is based on making sure you get the right amount of sleep to help you perform at your best at work and home, it might be difficult for you to actually get the recommended amount.
So just how much sleep do we need to stay alive? Scientists have tested how long humans can survive without air (about three minutes), how long a person can go without water (three days) and even how long someone can last without food (three weeks).
But when it comes to sleep, not as much research has been done.
Even one night of no sleep can have the same effect on the human body as being drunk. The longest anyone has ever stayed awake was about 11 days which was done for a school project (really!) in 1965.
Despite all the health problems listed above, no human has ever died from not having enough sleep alone. The problems are when someone develops other health complications through a lack of sleep.
A pretty horrible experiment on rats in 1999 did actually see the creatures die after two weeks of being kept awake.
Even people with sleep disorders manage to get a few hours every night.
Here’s the scenario: You live with and sleep next to a chronic snorer. They are a loud “bed partner“who unbeknownst to them are causing you sleepless nights too!
Many older adults tend to have trouble sleeping, but for people who suffer from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, they have an even harder time. Alzheimer’s may reverse a person’s sleep-wake cycle, causing daytime drowsiness and nighttime restlessness. As Alzheimer’s continues to progress, these sleep disturbances often increase. With more severe forms of dementia, people tend to be sleepier during the day, which can cause their sleep at night to become fragmented and disrupted. It is common for people suffering from both dementia and Alzheimer’s to constantly wake at night and fall asleep during the day.