Dr. Shivani Vakilwala

Sleep for long was considered a break which the body needed from the entire day’s energy consumed but thankfully we now have a lot of research articles and an entire Academy of Sleep Medicine which after years of research has confirmed that there are several benefits of sleep and what drastic effects can occur if one is sleep deprived.


Let us dive into the fascinating functions of sleep  –


  1. Memory consolidation – predominantly by the NREM sleep which involves the transfer of data from the temporary storage in the hippocampus that occurs during the day to permanent storage in the frontal and parietal neocortices.




  1. Regulation of the immune system – One night of sleep deprivation causes decrease in the number of Natural Killer cells in blood.


  1. Energy Homeostasis and weight regulation.


  1. REM sleep is responsible for emotional salience and it’s deprivation causes anxiety.


What are the various types of sleep disorders?

  1. Insomnia – which is the inability to fall asleep leading to depression, irritability, weight gain.

It could transient, intermittent or chronic.


  1. Sleep Apnea


  1. Parasomnias like somnambulism, somniloquy.


  1. Restless leg syndrome.


  1. Narcolepsy which are sleep attacks occurring during the day.


These disorders are usually diagnosed by a polysomnography and electroencephalograms.



Here is an interesting image on how sleep has an effect on one’s aging.

Image source : hopkinsmedicine.org



Here is an interesting study of sleep and it’s function to flush out brain from the toxins-


National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke which is a part of National Institute of Health did a study using mice, researchers for the first time showed that space between the brain cells may increase during sleep, allowing the brain to flush out toxins that build up during the waking hours like Beta amyloid.


This is known as the Glymphatic system which not only does waste clearance but is also responsible for facilitating brain-wide distribution of several compounds, including glucose, lipids and growth factors.

Supine and lateral sleeping postures optimize glymphatic function and prone sleeping decreases efficacy by 40 %.



Image source : Pinterest.


Effects of Sleep Deprivation –


  1. Excessive daytime drowsiness.


  1. Generalized anxiety.


  1. Enhanced risk of immune medicated disorders.


  1. Change in the functioning of leptin, ghrelin leading to risk of obesity and insulin resistance and atherosclerosis.


  1. American Academy of Sleep Medicine states that sleep disturbance is a potential modifiable risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.


  1. Emotional Stability is directly proportional to our REM sleep.


Simple habits like not skipping your sleep , limiting caffeine intake before sleeping can prevent such adverse effects of sleep deprivation and as we have heard that excess of anything is harmful, therefore you must limit that afternoon nap. An ideal nap should be before 3 p.m. and less than 20 minutes.

One mantra for all- After lunch sleep a while and after dinner walk a mile.


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