The term self-abuse first may bring to the mind self-harm, self-medicating, drugs abuse, masochism and so on. While these behaviours are common and life wasting, threatening, at times lethal, and important to be reviewed and discussed on its own, this article is not on this subject. This paper will review and discuss more masked and perhaps unrecognized types of human behaviours that are self-abusive, deteriorating and the causes of morbidities and in long-run even life shortening. These behaviours will be classified into sacrificing sleep; restricting or indulging eating behaviours; lack or extreme of physical activities; and unhealthy social activities through social media and virtual life.
More and more people in this era of rat race, profit hunger for a few and financial struggle for the rest, and also dependency on digitalism, social media and alike, cannot get enough of sleep or enough of a good and restful one. Therefore deliberately sacrificing one’s sleep to stay up on their gadgets, social media and else, or having sleep deprivation due to work and else has become an epidemic world wide. Therefore it is not uncommon to see many with sunken eye, fatigue, daytime sleepiness on the wheel, at work and school, or looking clumsy and even with weight gain as a result. (1)
It is not just the amount and the hours of sleep that people do not get enough, but the quality of sleep! The sleep is comprised of different stages: Stage 1 (when feeling drowsy and sleepy); Stage 2 (or light sleep); Stage 3 & 4 (deep sleep); and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep when one dreams. Every night our sleep goes through 4 to 5 of such a cycle, the first starting from 1-4 then REM, and so on. People who do not wake up in the middle of the night and have a sound sleep, they do not go back to stage 1 after the first cycle. Stage 2 of sleep is the prominent part of the sleep in normal adults, about 45-50% and deep or stages 3 & 4 comprises about 15% and REM about 25%. But most adults with sleep deprivation, insomnia, any other sleep disturbances and disorders, people with anxiety, depression, stress, worries, etc. do not get much of deep sleep or none. While REM sleep is for the restoration of mental fatigue, so anxious and worried people have more of it, stage 3 &4 that is deep or slow wave sleep is for the restoration of physical fatigue, so children get more of it due to their higher physical activities. (2)
Unfortunately even children and teens nowadays due to addiction to their gadgets and games, staying up till late at night, first of all do not get enough hours of sleep, and since they are not physically active, not much of deep or restful sleep. The case for children could be worse and life determining as the growth hormone and many others alike do secrete during stages 3, 4 and REM. The low secretion of growth hormone not only causes slow and poor physical growth, also the growth and development of the rest of the body organs, specially the brain. (3)
Moreover sleep disturbances such as nightmares, sleep talking, sleep walking, night-terrors, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome in sleep are becoming more and more common. Although many children, teens and even youngsters whose population of unemployment and dropping schools is on the rise, may sleep in the day and try to compensate their lack of night sleep, their sleep-wake cycle is deranged. The sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm, one of the important and vital cycles of life and nature, works on the rise and set of sun, so that is why melatonin a hormone that with addition of sunlight, gives us skin and hair color, and Vitamin D that gets activated by sun to deliver calcium to our bones are all dependent on a normal and healthy sleep-wake cycle. As a result as they say “Nothing is like a good night sleep”! (4-8)
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