Sleeping high refers to the practice of sleeping at high altitudes, typically above 8,000 feet. It is a common practice for mountaineers, hikers, and adventurers who trek to high-altitude locations. While sleeping high has several benefits, it can also have some adverse effects on the body. In this article, we will explore what happens when you sleep high, the benefits and drawbacks of sleeping at high altitudes, and some tips for sleeping at high altitudes.
The Science behind Sleeping High
Sleeping high has several effects on the body, some of which are beneficial, while others are harmful. One of the most common side effects of sleeping at high altitudes is altitude sickness.
- Altitude Sickness
Altitude sickness is a condition that occurs when the body is exposed to high altitudes too quickly. It is caused by a lack of oxygen, and it can have several symptoms, including headache, nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath. Altitude sickness can also cause insomnia, which can make it difficult to sleep at high altitudes.
Acclimatization is the process by which the body adjusts to high altitudes. It typically takes a few days for the body to acclimate to a new altitude, during which time the body produces more red blood cells to carry oxygen to the organs and tissues. Acclimatization can help prevent altitude sickness and make it easier to sleep at high altitudes.
Effects on Breathing
Sleeping at high altitudes can also affect breathing. The air at high altitudes is thinner and contains less oxygen, which can make it more difficult to breathe. This can cause snoring, sleep apnea, and other breathing problems.
Benefits of Sleeping High
Despite the potential drawbacks of sleeping at high altitudes, there are also several benefits.
- Increased Red Blood Cell Production
As mentioned earlier, sleeping at high altitudes can stimulate the body to produce more red blood cells, which can help carry oxygen more efficiently throughout the body. This can have several benefits, including improved athletic performance and increased endurance.
- Better Sleep Quality
Sleeping at high altitudes can also improve the quality of sleep. Research has shown that people who sleep at high altitudes experience deeper and more restful sleep, which can help them feel more rested and alert during the day.
- Improved Athletic Performance
Finally, sleeping at high altitudes can also improve athletic performance. This is because the body produces more red blood cells, which can help improve endurance and reduce fatigue during exercise.
Tips for Sleeping at High Altitudes
- Acclimatize before sleeping at high altitudes: It’s essential to give your body time to adjust to the altitude before sleeping at high elevations. Spend a few days at gradually increasing elevations to allow your body to acclimate.
- Stay hydrated: High altitudes can cause dehydration, which can make it harder to sleep. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol, which can also dehydrate you.
- Avoid alcohol and sedatives: Alcohol and sedatives can make it harder to breathe at high altitudes, increasing the risk of altitude sickness and other health concerns.
- Use an oxygen concentrator or portable oxygen supply: If you’re having trouble breathing at high altitudes, using an oxygen concentrator or portable oxygen supply can help improve your oxygen levels and make it easier to sleep.
- Consider using a high-altitude sleep system: High-altitude sleep systems are designed to help you sleep comfortably at high elevations. These systems can include special bedding, oxygen delivery systems, and other features to improve your sleep quality.
The Effects of High-Altitude Sleep on Our Bodies
- Reduced Oxygen Levels: At high altitudes, the air pressure and oxygen levels are lower, which can lead to a condition called hypoxia. Hypoxia can cause fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
- Changes in Breathing: High-altitude sleep can also cause changes in our breathing patterns. This is because our bodies are trying to adjust to the lower oxygen levels. You may experience periods of rapid breathing followed by shallow breathing, which can disrupt your sleep.
- Increased Heart Rate: When we sleep at high altitudes, our bodies have to work harder to circulate oxygen throughout our bodies. This can lead to an increase in heart rate, which can cause insomnia, daytime fatigue, and other health concerns.
- Dehydration: High altitudes can cause dehydration due to the dry air and increased breathing rate. Dehydration can make it harder to sleep and increase the risk of other health concerns.
- Altitude Sickness: If you’re not acclimated to high altitudes, you may experience altitude sickness. Altitude sickness can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, and difficulty sleeping.
In conclusion, sleeping at high altitudes can be an exciting and unique experience, but it can also come with its own set of challenges. High-altitude sleep can lead to reduced oxygen levels, changes in breathing, increased heart rate, dehydration, and altitude sickness. Remember to acclimate your body gradually to the altitude, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and sedatives, use an oxygen concentrator or portable oxygen supply if necessary, and consider using a high-altitude sleep system.