Why Sleep Matters

I, as numerous others my age have experienced consecutive nights of staying up late till ridiculous hours of the next morning and then being encouraged to wake up approximately 5 hours later to prepare for a busy day of school. It’s no wonder that after one year of repeating this routine with myself that I have felt the consequences of a lack of sleep. Although I feel that I have such a wide variety of distractions, namely the internet, homework, reading books, social media and of course watching films that I prefer to do at night.  

Within the first week of my summer holidays I have relished the knowledge that I can sleep until the late afternoon of the next day in order to compensate for how tired my body was, given that I didn’t really think I was too tired throughout this year of school.

So I have decided to try and convince myself and others of the importance of sleep, how getting sufficient sleep can affect our daily lives and hopefully improve the way we face each day.

Sleep deprived people may experience apathy, slowed speech, flattened emotional responses, impaired memory and an inability to be novel or multitask. It has been shown that sleepiness does take a toll on effective decision making. In addition to this alert people are sensitive to how much work they should do and the risks involved in them.

We know that getting enough sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, it can benefit your heart, weight and mind. Moreover, I recently watched a documentary that highlighted the results of sleep in literally clearing the circuitry of our brain from a protein that renders people more susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s disease in the future. When we sleep, our body heals damaged cells, boosts our immune system, allows us to recover from the day’s activities and recharges our cardiovascular system.

The sleep cycle includes two repeating phases:

REM = rapid eye movement. Dreaming occurs, where our minds process and consolidate emotions, memories and stress. Vital for learning, stimulating the brain regions involved in learning and skill development.

NREM = non-rapid eye movement. Tissue growth, repair, energy is restored and hormones that are essential for growth and development are released.

When we don’t get enough sleep we feel drowsy, depressed and are easily irritable. Learning is difficult, storing things in our long term memory is also a challenge. As well as this we crave more unhealthy foods that can cause weight gain and inevitably more health problems.

For one week (I know that’s a lot for me!) during the school year, I decided to increase the amount I slept each night by at least an hour. I’m not exaggerating by saying that I definitely noticed the effect of a full night of sleep. I worked so much faster at school and was keener to be involved in things. Then after my school day I have a part time job (tutoring children) in which I greatly noticed that my efficiency in working was so much better! Unfortunately I found it difficult to keep up this trend given that I had a lot of responsibilities and things to accomplish before each school day that meant I needed to stay up. However I hope to repeat this during the more stressful moments of year 13 to benefit from better health, mood and logical thinking!

 

 

Sources of information:  

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/9-reasons-to-sleep-more#3

http://www.resmed.com/us/en/consumer/diagnosis-and-treatment/healthy-sleep/what-happens-during-sleep.html#

 

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