We all need sleep. We can’t do without it. Sleep deprivation leaves you drowsy and unable to concentrate the following day. It also leads to impaired memory and physical performance. Prolonged sleep deprivation may lead to hallucinations and erratic mood swings.
Necessary for Survival
Animal studies have shown that sleep is necessary for survival. For example, normal life span of rats is about three years. But rats deprived of sleep live for only about three weeks and suffer impairment of their immune systems.
Chronic Sleep Deprivation
A recent survey found that more people are sleeping less than six hours a night. A single night of insomnia is nothing to worry about, but chronic sleep loss an contribute to health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in the immune system’s ability to function properly. The metabolic activity of the human brain decreases significantly after 24 hours of sustained wakefulness. Decrease in body temperature, impaired immune system function, and a decrease in the release of growth hormone are also experienced.
The Harvard Women’s Health Watch
The Harvard Women’s Health Watch suggests six reasons to get plenty of sleep:
1. Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. Although your body is resting, your brain is busy processing, making connections between events, sensory input, feelings and memories. Your dreams and deep sleep are an important time for your brain to catch up on its homework.
2.Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
3. Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
4. Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
5. Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat. Unfortunately, many people turn to caffeine to boost their energy levels. This approach provides short-lived energy at best. At worst, you could end up with caffeine addiction, blood sugar fluctuations and adrenal gland depletion that makes you more vulnerable to stress.
6. Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.
Benefits of Napping
Napping during the day is not only an effective and refreshing alternative to caffeine, it can also protect your health and make you more productive. Napping reduces stress and improves memory, cognitive function and mood.
How Much Sleep Should You Get?
Between seven and nine hours each night.
A good night’s sleep makes you feel energized and alert the next day. Being engaged and active not only feels great, it increases your chances for another good night’s sleep. Don’t scrimp on sleep. It’s too important. Getting more quality sleep will make you more alert, and improve your memory as well as your overall health.