Signs from the Body Indicating Your Sleep Isn't Restorative
Tiphaine Honnet - Madame Figaro
This passage explains the importance of recognizing the signs our bodies give us about the quality of our sleep. It mentions a 2019 public health study in France which found that a third of French people sleep less than 6 hours per night. Philippe Beaulieu, a sleep doctor at the Henri-Mondor Hospital in Paris, notes a significant decrease in the duration of sleep over the past century. The passage highlights the issue of non-restorative sleep, where people accumulate a sleep debt without realizing it, leading to adverse health effects. It also mentions that Dr. Beaulieu and chronobiologist Claire Leconte provide insights on identifying warning signals from the body indicating poor sleep quality.
This section discusses how our state upon waking up can be an indicator of the quality of our sleep. Dr. Philippe Beaulieu emphasizes the importance of assessing the feeling of being fully rested as soon as we wake up. Normally, any residual sleepiness should dissipate quickly once we start moving. If this doesn't happen, it's likely that the night's sleep was poor, and its effects are felt promptly.
According to chronobiologist Claire Leconte, a bad night's sleep can lead to a generalized slowdown in the body, especially physically. This may manifest as difficulty in activities like walking or climbing stairs. These signs are crucial to recognize as they indicate the body's response to insufficient or poor-quality sleep.
In this segment, key indicators of poor sleep quality are discussed:
- Reliance on Hot Water in the Morning: Struggling to leave the comfort of the bed is common, and many people find a hot shower to be a helpful wake-up aid. However, Claire Leconte, a chronobiologist, explains that our biological clock normally raises our central body temperature as we wake up. After a night of poor sleep, this process is slower, making us crave the warmth of a hot shower to jump-start our systems.
- Daytime Drowsiness and Yawning: Experiencing yawning early in the morning, around 9:30 am, is a notable sign. Yawning is a reaction to various stimuli like boredom, hunger, or sleepiness. If you find yourself yawning frequently throughout the day, especially outside of meal times and meetings, it indicates intense fatigue. This condition is known as "excessive daytime sleepiness" in sleep science. It's a sign that the body is reacting to a significant lack of rest.
- Cravings for Fat and Sugar: Disrupted sleep affects the balance of hormones that control appetite, leading to cravings for fatty and sugary foods. While ideally, we might opt for healthier choices like salads and vegetables, the reality is often a preference for a combination of fats and sugars. Claire Leconte points out that sugar can temporarily enhance attentional capacity, but this benefit is short-lived and can lead to long-term health issues such as Type II diabetes. Dr. Beaulieu highlights that the obesity epidemic in the United States is linked not only to poor diet but also to disrupted biological rhythms.
- Headaches: Lack of sleep can excite a set of nerves and neurons in the brain, potentially causing significant headaches. Claire Leconte suggests taking a short rest in a quiet, dimly lit space to alleviate this symptom.
- Muscle Aches: Persistent muscle tension, even days after physical activity like jogging, can be a sign of inadequate sleep. Dr. Beaulieu explains that the body needs to relax fully during sleep to regenerate its tissues. If the muscles do not relax properly, the tension from the previous day can continue into the next.
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