The Importance of Sleep

The saying – “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,” should not be underestimated.

Since the development of the light bulb, we’ve lost about an hour to an hour and a half of sleep. So the early 1900’s, people would get maybe 8 ½ to 9 hours of sleep at night. Now we are averaging 7, 7 ½,” said Dr Patrick Whitten. “Now with social media, people with cell phones, tablets, these lights in bed, trying to check that last email or check that last post on Facebook, we’re losing even more sleep.

Do you feel like you struggle half the night just to get a few hours of shuteye, and then wake up feeling exhausted? You’re not alone. An estimated at least 50-70 million have some type of sleep disorder. And it’s not just frustrating — not getting enough sleep can have serious consequences on your health.

Getting enough sleep is as important for your body as eating right, exercising, and practising good dental hygiene. That’s because lack of sleep not only makes it harder for you to get through the day, it is also linked to all kinds of health problems — from diabetes to increase blood pressure to weight gain and increased risk of a heart attack. Inadequate sleep even makes it more likely that you’ll catch a cold.

Sleep appears to be an essential physiological process for humans and for most other animals, other than very simple ones with small brains. When deprived of sleep, we function less effectively, feel tired and irritable, make more mistakes, are less creative and, if taken to extremes, ultimately die. In the same way, as a feeling of hunger reminds us of the basic human need to eat, a feeling of sleepiness reminds us of our essential need to sleep.

So exactly what is sleep –

It is a condition of body and mind which typically recurs for several hours every night, in which the nervous system is inactive, the eyes closed, the postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness practically suspended.

A good night’s sleep does more than rejuvenating you for the next day. It may help protect you against Alzheimer’s disease.

The brain effectively reminds the body that it needs to sleep after a certain time, and it works quite intuitively: the longer we have been awake, the stronger the desire and need to sleep becomes, and the more the likelihood of falling asleep increases; the longer we have been asleep, the more the pressure to sleep dissipates, and the more the likelihood of awakening increases.

The body needs approximately 8 hours sleep in every 24 hours. some people can manage optimum health on 5 hours a day of sleep. Anyone who consistently spends less than 8 hours of sleep for a long time is easy going down the route of deteriorating health.

Benefits of good sleep

Improves memory and creativity

Get a good night’s sleep before getting out the pen and paper, employers and employees, as well as entrepreneurs, need to pay attention to this factor.

In addition to consolidating memories, or making them stronger, your brain appears to reorganize and restructure them, which may result in more creativity as well.

Researchers at Harvard University and Boston College found that people seem to strengthen the emotional components of a memory during sleep, which may help spur the creative process.

Inflammation is reduced

Inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature ageing. Research indicates that people who get less sleep six or fewer hours a night have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more.

People who have insomnia (sleeplessness) can have an improvement in blood pressure and inflammation with the treatment of the sleep disorders.

Encourages longevity

Too much or too little sleep is associated with a shorter lifespan although it’s not clear if it’s a cause or effect. (Illnesses may affect sleep patterns too.)

In a 2010 study of women ages 50 to 79, more deaths occurred in women who got less than five hours or more than six and a half hours of sleep per night.

Sleep also affects the quality of life.

What happens in your life during the day can definitely impact a good night’s sleep.
“People that generally have good things going on in their life, regarding work and family life tend to sleep well. They don’t report sleep problems per say. Those that have issues going on during the day, poor work performance, poor relationships with their colleagues or family members or spouses, they’re going to have disrupted sleep.

If you are tossing and turning at night, there are certain sleep hygiene steps to follow to help promote a good night’s sleep. Dr Whitten recommends going to bed at the same bedtime each night and getting up at the same rise-time each day. Also, limit caffeine and turn off the electronics at night.

“For people who don’t have sleep problems at night, we tend not to care what they do, as long as they are sleeping okay and they’re functional during the day. But once you do develop a sleep problem, you want to avoid those light stimulus – the TV, the music, the radio, things like that. The cell phones. Those can tend to disrupt sleep.

A form of meditation and quiet would help to centre focus on yourself and your needs.

Peak physical performance

If you’re a professional athlete, there may be one simple way to improve your performance: sleep.

A Stanford University study found that college football players who tried to sleep at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their average sprint time and had less daytime fatigue and more stamina.
The results of this study reflect previous findings seen in tennis players and swimmers.

Improve your grades

Children between the ages of 10 and 16 who have sleep-disordered breathing, which includes snoring, sleep apnea, and other types of interrupted breathing during sleep, are more likely to have problems with attention and learning, according to a 2010 study in the journal Sleep. This could lead to “significant functional impairment at school,” the study authors wrote.

In another study, college students who didn’t get enough sleep had worse grades than those who did.

“If you’re trying to meet a deadline, you’re willing to sacrifice sleep,”, “but it’s severe and reoccurring sleep deprivation that clearly impairs learning.”

Calm and attentive personality

A lack of sleep can result in ADHD-like symptoms in kids.
Kids don’t react the same way to sleep deprivation as adults do, while adults get sleepy, kids tend to get hyperactive.

A 2009 study in the journal Pediatrics found that children ages seven and eight who got less than about eight hours of sleep a night were more likely to be hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive.

Stable and healthy body weight

If you are thinking about going on a diet, you might want to plan an earlier bedtime too.
Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat—56% of their weight loss than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass. (They shed similar amounts of total weight regardless of sleep.)

Dieters in the study also felt more hungry when they got less sleep.

Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain,” When you are sleepy, certain hormones go up in your blood, and those same hormones drive appetite.

Stress reduction

When it comes to our health stress and sleep are nearly one and the same and both can affect cardiovascular health.

Reduction levels of stress, and control of the blood pressure. It’s also believed that sleep effects cholesterol levels, which plays a significant role in heart disease.

Accident prevention

Sleepiness is grossly underrated as a problem by most people, but the cost to society is enormous. Sleeplessness affects reaction time and decision making.

Insufficient sleep can be as detrimental to your driving ability as having an alcoholic drink.
Other accidents include anything that requires focus and concentration such as using household machines or sharp objects. A simple slip of focus can result in injury to the body – with a so-called simple problem such as lack of sleep.

Alleviated depression

Worldwide, depression seems to have increased and it is common in even African countries today, as this seemed to be unfamiliar in the past because Africa was more communal.

Lack of sleep can contribute to depression. Good sleep can really help a moody person decrease their anxiety and improved emotional stability comes with good sleep.
If you think the long hours put in during the week are the cause of your anxiety or impatience, information demonstrates that sleep cannot necessarily be made up during the weekend.

“If you sleep more on the weekends, you simply aren’t sleeping enough in the week,” he says. “It’s all about finding a balance.

“All in all eat less, move more”.