What happens when you don’t get enough sleep, and how can you use lavender to help you sleep?
Our behaviour affects the internal processes of the body. It’s known that one in five people experience chronic stress. Negative thoughts and general anxiety not only prevent individuals from sleeping but also affect the depth of the sleep. Sleep becomes intermittent. This condition deprives a person of the ability to concentrate, robs him/her of self-confidence and causes low self-esteem.
Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Why We Sleep, identified the physiological consequences of sleep deprivation:
Memory problems. Lack of sleep disrupts the work of the hippocampus, which is responsible for the formation and preservation of memories, that is, the events that occur cease to be memorized, and a person has a feeling similar to amnesia.
It is known that lack of sleep leads to an increase in the levels of the dangerous toxin amyloid-beta, provoking the development of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related dementia. The level of soluble beta-amyloid increases in the body during the wakeful period and decreases during sleep. Amyloid proteins accumulate in the brain daily and are considered brain cell waste. Studies show that with regular interruption of sleep in the slow phase, amyloid proteins accumulate and form plaques in brain tissues. Getting rid of excess amyloid protein occurs in the phase of deep, slow sleep, during which there is an exchange between the tissue fluid of the brain and the cerebrospinal fluid, and memories are consolidated.
Sleep deprivation also affects the reproductive system. In men who sleep for just 5-6 hours a day, testosterone levels decrease to values corresponding to an age 10 years older.
Lack of sleep also affects the immune system. In just one sleepless night (4-5 hours of sleep), the number of T-lymphocytes—anticancer immune cells—is reduced by 70%. Weakening of the immune system causes the risk of developing cancer. The link between sleep deprivation and the development of cancer was mentioned by the WHO, which classified night shift work as probably carcinogenic to humans.
Lack of sleep adversely affects the cardiovascular system. When we sleep, the heart rate weakens and the pressure decreases—so the body rests. If you do not give it the necessary rest, arterial pressure increases. When a person sleeps less than 6 hours, he/she has a 200% increased risk of a heart attack.
Humans are the only creatures who can consciously deprive themselves of sleep. This is self-destructive behaviour. Systematic disruption of sleep-wake patterns leads to insomnia, which can be overcome by changing behaviour. In behavioural psychotherapy, olfactory stimuli are used to reinforce positive behaviour patterns. The effectiveness of aromatherapy in the fight against insomnia is confirmed by many studies. Since ancient times, the aroma of lavender is considered to be one of the best remedies for insomnia. You can put a sachet of dried lavender flowers or a cotton pad soaked in lavender oil at the bedhead, or use a spray with the aroma of lavender—as they do, for example, in expensive hotels. Oral capsules are another option for utilizing lavender oil.
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Some researchers note the effectiveness of lavender in reducing overall anxiety. For example, tomographic studies of the brain have shown that the aroma of lavender oil affects serotonin receptors type 1A, reducing their binding potential. As a result, the level of free serotonin and the corresponding neurotransmitters increase and the level of anxiety decreases. At the same time, there is no undesirable sedative effects.
The problem of sleep deprivation has many solutions. Perhaps lavender aromatherapy will help you.