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“With age, people become larks”: the somnologist told RT about the effect of sleep on longevity, figure and psyche


What features characterize the “pigeon” chronotype of a person, how sleep affects life expectancy and whether it is possible to get enough sleep for the future, the head of the Center for Sleep Medicine, Moscow State University told RT Lomonosov Alexander Kalinkin. He also explained how to establish a healthy sleep pattern and what its violation can lead to.

- Many have heard about larks and owls - the main human chronotypes. Can they change with age?

- They are partially congenital, about 10% of the world's population has a fairly rigidly defined chronotype, and it does not change throughout life. For the rest, it changes with age. Children are usually larks, at a young age everyone wants to be active at night and most are owls. And with age, gradually, people again become larks.

- Is it harmful to be an owl? That is, if a person gets up late, is this normal?

- It is believed that owls have a certain predisposition to the development of various diseases. But these are observational studies with low scientific value. In any case, we know that sleep, which is maximally conjugated with the dark time of day, is the most optimal for a person. Therefore, the more it shifts with respect to the dark time of the day and the more it approaches in daylight, the worse.

- There is also a third chronotype - pigeons. What can you say about this type of people?

- Pigeons belong to the mixed chronotype. They get up a little later than the larks and go to bed before the owls.

That is, an owl is a delay in falling asleep, a lark is an early falling asleep and an early awakening, and pigeons are a mixed type, and they are more easily adapted to a rhythm shift.

- What body system regulates sleep?

- Over the past decades of research in the field of somnology, it has become apparent that there is no single center of sleep or a single center of wakefulness.

In 1998, one of the most important regulators of wakefulness was opened. This is a peptide called orexin, and it is just produced in the lateral part of the hypothalamus (this is in the very center of the brain), which is responsible for vegetative function.

There are literally several thousand neurons that produce orexin, and it supports all brain structures in an active state. Therefore, if it is lacking for various reasons, primarily due to some pathology, then this leads to the development of narcolepsy - a disease that is accompanied by increased drowsiness, sudden falling asleep of people.

This pathology is very widespread, but it is completely misdiagnosed, because the vast majority of doctors, not even general practitioners, but even neurologists, are not aware of such a pathology.

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- What else affects sleep?

- A person has hormones that are regulated by sunlight, they include, first of all, melatonin. And, indeed, the concentration of this hormone begins to increase in the evening hours, when the sun becomes less.

But in modern situations, people use artificial lighting, laptops, computers. Naturally, this delays the phase of melatonin production.

When melatonin was discovered in the late 1950s, it was thought to be the main sleep hormone. In fact, this is the hormone of the night - it is a signal for the whole organism, for all cells, that night has come.

And there are hormones that are associated directly with the stages of sleep. For example, growth hormone, which is produced in a slow-wave sleep, mainly in the first half of the night. This is a hormone that causes physical growth, anabolic hormone, its lack leads to growth retardation in children, and in adults - to obesity. Because its main function is anabolic, accordingly it builds muscle and reduces fat mass.

If the phase of falling asleep is delayed, then the production of this hormone will decrease, and a person will gain weight much faster, it will be more difficult for him to lose it.

- Does sleep quality affect weight loss?

- Very strong, yes. The fact is that it is in the so-called slow-wave sleep, the delta dream, which occurs approximately in the first half of the night, an acrophase of the production of growth hormone occurs. Acrophase is the maximum output. And growth hormone is an anabolic hormone, which bodybuilders tease themselves. This hormone performs the function of muscle growth, and another function of it, among others, is the destruction of fat.

Therefore, if a person sleeps well, and he has a delta sleep - he produces this hormone as much as possible - naturally, he loses weight in a dream. And if he ate tightly at night, if he does not engage in physical activity, if he does not sleep well, if he has sleep apnea (respiratory arrest), then the production of this hormone is disrupted. And in adults, this contributes to obesity, and in children it leads to a violation of physical development.

- What time do I need to go to bed so that the body produces the right hormones and prepares for the next day?

- Ideally, this should be coupled with sunlight, but we are well aware that now in the northern latitudes the sun sets early and rises late, in summer it is the other way around. Therefore, the optimal time is associated with the night time period, until about 12 o’clock in the morning and rise around 7 a.m.

- Is daytime sleep useful? Can you recommend it to those to whom such a break allows a work schedule?

- There is a double situation. If a person lacks sleep at night, then compensation in the daytime for a short duration of sleep (30-40 minutes) has a beneficial effect on health.

If he sleeps for a normal length of time, but he has a need for daytime sleep, that is, excessive daytime sleepiness, the prognosis for health worsens.

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- But, if a person does not regularly sleep at night and compensate during the day, then this is not very useful for the body?

“Of course, it is better for the sleep to be concentrated at night.”

- And why should not a dream be divided into two parts?

- Firstly, because we combine sleep with the night time period, and during the day, accordingly, there is light - the production of melatonin will be disrupted. Secondly, when a person falls asleep, there is a restructuring of the whole organism, because during sleep even the genome works in a completely different way, some genes turn on, others turn off. Such leapfrog with the body, it will not contribute to health.

- Is it possible to sleep for the future?

- Impossible. Sleep is a circadian process, that is, it requires itself every day and at a certain time. Therefore, you cannot sleep more than you are “destined” for this cycle and you cannot sleep well for the future. In any case, the very first episode when you break this oscillatory process and the next sleep cycle will immediately affect your health, well-being, emotional and psychological state.

- It turns out that people who work shift - work for several days, relax for a few - is it harmful for them because they do not get sleep?

- This is the worst situation.

Often they ask the question: "How to get enough sleep with a shift schedule and what to do?" I say: "As soon as possible to look for a new job."

But whoever cannot do this, is forced to work in such a schedule, must adhere to his work schedule and sleep schedule throughout the entire working week. That is, this means that if, for example, a person works for two nights and does not work for two, he must also stay awake during the non-working days at night, and sleep during the day. That is, to keep this cycle - to be reconstructed at night option.

Unfortunately, this is not very convenient, because many shops and institutions are closed. But you can leave yourself some window for some social actions, but try to adhere to the regime. Because a sudden change is the worst situation for a person, it affects health very much.

- There is an opinion that sleep affects life expectancy. How correct can sleep prolong or shorten life?

- The fact is that there is no direct relationship. There is an addiction that often appears in medicine, the so-called J-shaped. This means that with reduced sleep, life expectancy decreases. But, strangely enough, with an increase in the duration of sleep, life expectancy is further reduced. This suggests that not only the duration of sleep, but also its quality plays a role, this is the first.

And secondly, those people who die with a long sleep, apparently, their sleep is a protective reaction to some kind of chronic, especially inflammatory processes. And this does not mean that the long sleep itself led to early death, it suggests that the body was trying to adapt, trying to deal with the chronic condition, but death is most likely associated with the development of a chronic inflammatory process.

- That is, if a person sleeps for a long time, this may be an occasion to consult a doctor?

- This is a prognostically unfavorable sign. The norm is from seven to nine hours of sleep, the maximum life expectancy at this duration of sleep. The acceptable time is six hours - the minimum sleep time, the maximum - ten hours.

- What is the best way to get enough sleep? Can something help this: plants, humidifiers, airing?

- Environmental factors, of course, largely determine the quality of sleep and, above all, the most important factor in regulating sleep and wakefulness is light. Therefore, we are talking about the fact that a person’s sleep should be as much as possible associated with the dark time of day. But all environmental factors - temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure (to a lesser extent) - all of them affect the quality of sleep.

The temperature depends on how much the person is covered with a blanket, or fully disclosed. Standard conditions (usually 19-21 ºC) are considered optimal. If a person is completely open, that is, does not use any blankets, then the temperature should be slightly higher, approximately around 28 ºC.

Humidity is important. First of all, this is very important for apartment buildings, because in the autumn-winter period, when central heating is turned on, humidity in such apartments drops sharply. And dry air affects the increase in resistance of the upper respiratory tract, especially at the level of the nose - this contributes to respiratory failure in humans. The optimum humidity in the apartments should be from 60 to 80%.

Source: russiart

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