We all know that when you have the flu or a cold you have the urge to sleep a lot. You can’t keep your eyes open and your body feels heavy. A nice snug blanket or duvet to cover yourself and most of the day is spend on the sofa or in bed. We need a lot more sleep when we suffer from an infection or have a fever. Sleeping does much more than giving us time out from our waking hours.
While you are asleep your immune system functions more effectively than when you are awake. People who are working shifts or junior doctors with long and irregular hours suffer more illness and infection than the general population. The lack of sleep does not only affect their ability to concentrate but also reduces the time to recover from potential infections in a hospital.
Sleep is not only important for healing when a person is physically ill but also when a person is suffering from a mental illness. You might have had times when you felt low and you couldn’t get out of bed. You felt so tired. All you wanted to do was sleep. Obviously too much sleep isn’t good for depression, however the average adult needs about 8 to 9 hours of sleep. Adolescents need a lot more because of their development.
Every night we need two types of sleep,
- slow wave sleep
- dream sleep
Dream sleep is also called REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
During low wave sleep the day to day wear and tear of our bodies tissues is repaired, brain cells are recharged with sugars and the immune system is refreshed.
During the REM sleep our emotional intelligence, thoughts and emotions are healed. REM sleep helps to deactivate stressful thoughts. It is there for understandable that when a person who worries a lot and has difficulties sleeping doesn’t get enough time to recover. They wake up tired and still depressed and or anxious.
As the night goes on we have less slow wave sleep and more REM sleep. When you only sleep a few hours your body and brain doesn’t get enough time to repair, recharge and heal emotionally. The normal sleep pattern is to start the night with sow wave body repair sleep, followed about 90 minutes later with REM sleep for about 10 minutes. As the night goes on we gradually have less slow wave sleep and more REM sleep.
Research has shown that depressed people who worry a lot have their first REM sleep twenty to fifty minutes into the night which can last almost an hour. They can then continue to have longer periods of REM sleep and more and more dreaming until the brain can take no more. They wake up more exhausted than before they went to sleep. No matter how many hours they spend in their bed.
We have an electrical signalling system in our brains, called the orientation response that alerts us to sudden changes in our environment. Under normal circumstances this signal is turned off as soon as we start to dream. This alarm system is not turned off in people who suffer from anxiety. This drains the emotional motivation of a person while they are asleep, leaving little or nothing for their waking hours.
It is essential to have adequate sleep in order to tackle the physical and mental demands of our daily lives and to feel rested and fulfilled in dealing with the emotional features of our lives.
If you find that you have too much emotional turmoil in your live and feel this is affecting you please go to: