The first World Sleep Day was held on 14 March 2008 at the instance of the International Sleep Day Committee of the World Association of Sleep Medicine, WASM and has been held annually since then, on Friday of the second full week of March.

Sleep Day is designed to draw public attention to the problem of sleep disorders, which affects various aspects of human life, as well as to reduce the impact of sleep disorders on public health by preventing and treating these disorders.

Sleep (lat. somnus) — a periodically occurring physiological state, opposite to the state of wakefulness, characterized by a reduced reaction to the surrounding world. Sleep is vital to health, mood, mental performance, quality of work and social life. Many factors influencing sleep have been identified, in particular, moodindividuality, quality of sleep, chronotype, demographic data (age, sex, income), as well as homeostatic need for sleep.

Sleep is important for mammals, including humans, and prolonged lack of sleep kills the body. According to the basic theory of sleep:

  • sleep facilitates the processing and storage of information. Sleep (especially slow sleep) facilitates the consolidation of the studied material, fast sleep implements subconscious models of expected events;
  • in sleep, the brain removes unnecessary neural connections;
  • sleep ensures the elimination of harmful products of brain cells from the brain;
  • sleep is related to immunity.  Sleep deprivation disrupts NLRP3 inflammasome regulation, and NLRP3 deficiency causes sleep disorders. Sleep deprivation acts like an infection.  In case of infectious disease, regulatory proteins cause sleep;
  • in sleep, the level of anabolic processes increases and catabolism decreases.

Approximately one third of a person’s life is spent asleep. According to WHO, an adult needs to sleep between six and eight hours a day. Lack of sleep accelerates the mechanisms of aging in the body. The current pace of life leads to frequent sleep deprivation.

The issue of compensating for sleep deprivation during the working week by prolonged sleep on weekends has been investigated in the scientific community. Swedish scientists have found that the risk of early death for people who sleep less than 5 hours on weekdays but sleep on weekends is no greater than that for people who sleep every day. However, studies by American scientists have shown that blood pressure, cholesterol, and other important indicators of the body turned out to be worse for those who slept on weekends, rather than sleeping for 7—8 hours throughout the week. In addition, falling asleep on weekends can lead to insomnia, as a late rise does not encourage the subsequent necessary fall asleep at the usual time.

Different lengths of sleep on working days and weekends provoke obesity, headache, chronic fatigue, increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, the likelihood of strokes and heart attacks.

Sleep deprivation is a very difficult ordeal. Within a few days, the consciousness of a person loses clarity; he has an insurmountable desire to sleep, periodically “falls” into a border state with confused consciousness.

It is important to follow the rules of sleep hygiene: go to bed and get up at the same time; avoid excessive consumption of alcohol four hours before bedtime, limit or stop smoking; avoid products containing caffeine (tea, coffee, energy drinks, chocolate) six hours before bedtime; avoid heavy, spicy and sweet foods four hours before bedtime; regularly exercise, but not immediately before bedtime; limit the duration of daytime sleep to 40 minutes; ensure comfort in the bedroom (mattress, pillow, bed linen, good ventilation, comfortable temperature regime, silence and darkness).

Tkachenko Pavel Vladimirovich, Head of the Department of Normal Physiology named after A.V. Zavyalova, Doctor of Medical Sciences.