Why Sleep Is Important
Photo credit: @olivecooke
Sleeping is one of the things that is very important but is easily deprived of us, wouldn’t you agree?
Ever since we were young, we were always told to sleep 8–10 hours at night and to have an afternoon nap, because this is healthy and right. However, as we grow older, despite knowing these facts, we always choose to sleep less because of a paper or presentation due tomorrow, a test you need to ace tomorrow, and so on, making us pull an “all-nighter.”
But let us get our facts straight once and for all…
What is sleep?
A popular misconception about sleep is that when one sleeps, it is the time when both the brain and the body “shuts down,” but actually, this is the time where they are working at most. During sleep, your mind and body work to undergo processes to restore cells, process information, and improve your health; this is all according to an article by the University of Minnesota.
What are the two stages of sleep?
When we sleep, we undergo two main phases, which are REM and non-REM. During the REM phase, the brain vigorously undergoes activities, and this is famously marked by us having vivid dreams. Furthermore, it is in this phase that consolidating of information and memory processes takes place. As for the non-REM sleep, it gradually grows more in-depth throughout the night, wherein it would already be hard to disturb anyone in this phase. As this happens, the body also starts to gently lower the heart rate, body temperature, and breathing rate.
How long does one need to sleep?
According to an article entitled Why is Sleep so Important? by LiveWell, the recommended amount of sleep a person needs each night are as follows:
Newborns 16–18 hours
Preschool 11–12 hours
School-aged at least 10 hours
Teens 9–10 hours
Adults of 18 years and above 9–10hours
What is the purpose of sleeping, anyway?
It is in sleep that the body is given a chance to recover from the wear and tear of one’s daily life, facilitates learning and memory, and plays a significant role in the functioning of one’s immune system.
First, through sleeping, your body is given a chance to recover from the daily wear and tear of life. It is because, according to researchers, when you sleep, you’re not only letting your entire body and brain to rest, but you’re allowing the cells to regenerate itself. Furthermore, the dropping of your body temperature, heart rate, and breathing conserves energy.
Secondly, sleeping facilitates learning and memory. According to an article from the University of Minnesota, Harvard’s Division of Sleep Medicine said that “sleep is a time for the brain to consolidate memories, which makes learning easier.” That is why there is a great study tip out there, saying that one of the best time to study is the time before going to bed.
And lastly, the functioning of one’s immune system is boost because of sleep. Cytokines, a protein that a body produces to help the immune system fight infection. US Department of Health and Human Services said that this protein is produced more during sleep, especially when one is sick, also the reason why you will feel tired and restless once you catch the flu. With this, resting gives the body time to produce this kind of protein and restores wellness.
Photo credit: @josefinehj
Why is this (sleep) so important then?
With a good night sleep, one that falls under the number of hours one is required according to his/her age group results to being:
Alert and active. With enough sleep, the mind is alert and regains its focus and stimulates creativity as well. Energy levels are also higher, and mental awareness will be more acute. Furthermore, good sleep improved athletic performance, such as speed, agility, and reflex.
Memory boost. As mentioned earlier, having enough sleep improves memory. It helps the brain to commit new information to the mind through a memory consolidation process.
It improved metabolism and weight. In sleeping the right number of hours helps in improving one’s metabolism as well as health. According to an article entitled Importance of Sleep: Six reasons not to scrimp on sleep by the Harvard Health Publishing, having a chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain since it affects the storage of carbohydrates by altering the levels of the hormone that affects appetite.
Improved mood. A good night’s sleep, and might I add, the right number of hours of sleep reduces irritability, moodiness, and impatience. Moreover, it improves concentration.
Improved cardiovascular health. If you can sleep the right amount of sleep, you will not be sleep deprived because a sleep-deprived person alters his/her immune system as well as the activity of the body’s killer cells.
Did you know:
According to a survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation in the year 1999–2004, it revealed that there are at least 40 million Americans who suffer from over 70 different sleeping disorders? And that most of these are undiagnosed and untreated. And sadly, there is 69 percent of children experience one or more sleeping problems a few nights or more during a week.
Humans spend 1/3 of their life sleeping.
Between sleep and food deprivation, it is sleep deprivation that will kill you quickly.
Humans are the only mammals that willingly delay their sleep?
With sleep deprivation, one’s pain tolerance is reduced.
Sleep is important. We are not only rewarding and treating ourselves self, but we are also giving our whole body a favor. We are taking care of our body and cells as it continually makes us healthy and allows us to function amazingly every single day.
A good night’s sleep does not mean a great dream or a very long one after being so busy, but rather the right amount of time advised for us in our specific age group. Moreover, a good night’s sleep improves mood, memory, health, and a lot more. I’m sure if we do not abuse sleep, we would be able to live a more productive and satisfying life.
Are you still struggling with how to sleep on time with all the other tasks that need to get done? Go and check out my previous article about productivity and time management here.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions below!