In today’s busy and fast-moving world, a day with 24 hours isn’t enough for people to properly cater to their body’s needs. An average adult, who’s working hard to keep their family well-fed, or a student, who’s studying round the clock to maintain their grades, may care about their diet or exercise routine, but what they don’t prioritize is a healthy amount of sleep.
The amount of sleep that your body needs may depend upon various factors, including genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors that places you in an age-specific category, determining the hours of sleep your body needs. This can help you arrange a schedule for yourself that allows you to have a good sleep at night. Your need for sleep decreases as you age, for, e.g., have you ever come across a newborn? It feels like they sleep all the time because they do.
A newborn child (0-3 months old) requires 14-17 hours of sleep in a day. But you can’t imagine a teenager sleeping for 14-17 hours because they don’t. A teenager requires 8-10 hours of sleep per day, but the hours reduce as they grow up to be adults or older adults. But, for an average adult, 7-9 hours of sleep at night is the right way to improve their health.
Why Is Sleep Important?
According to National Sleep Foundation (NSF), “Sleep is essential for a person’s health and wellbeing.” Many theories suggest the exact impact of sleep on your body, but we know for sure that it is a long, active period that helps in physical and mental repairing and rebalancing of your body.
Previously, many people believed that during sleep, the body and brain were dormant, but as it turns out, there is no resting time for your brain. It works all day long, and then, when you sleep at night, it prepares your body for the next day, which is why sleep experts always emphasize a good night’s sleep. The brain processes all the information it has restored during the day, from short-term memory to long-term memory during sleep. Therefore, a poor night’s sleep can cause difficulty in processing the information you learned during the day, making it hard for you to remember it later.
As several studies suggest, sleep has an evident impact on all of your body’s major physiological systems and functions, such as your immune system. It helps maintain and strengthen the system. According to a psychiatrist, Joanne Rodda, “When we have an infection, one of the things our body does is release chemicals that promote sleep.” She also shares how sleep can promote better outcomes in people with infections or illnesses. Sleep also has prominent effects on mental health, and its deprivation can be responsible for episodes of mania, bipolar depression, or anxiety disorders. It also plays a prime role in muscle growth and tissue repairing that promotes optimum health. In short, sleep regulates the overall quality of life.
What Happens When You Sleep?
If we get into the science of sleep, your brain performs its activities through a cycle, commonly called sleep cycle. It consists of two types of sleep, REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and non-REM sleep. The cycle begins with non-REM sleep, which has four further stages. This phase of sleep is believed to be more important for tasks such as learning and memory, also serving as the more relaxing and restorative phase. On the other hand, the next phase in the sleep cycle, REM sleep, causes rapid movement of eyes while they are still closed, increases your breathing rate, and turns your body into a condition of temporary paralysis as you begin to dream. The cycle then repeats itself four to five times a night.
A biological clock resides in our brain that controls the circadian rhythms, a built-in sleep regulator in our body. The clock works by scaling up melatonin (hormone related to sleep) production as a response to dark and turns it off when it senses light. Sleep drive is another key feature in regulating sleep, which builds up the desire to sleep throughout the day until it reaches a certain point where the sleep takes over.
What Happens to Your Body When You Don’t Sleep?
Everybody aspires to be productive and successful in achieving their day-to-day tasks, but can you attain it with a poor, improper night’s sleep? No. By far, we have established all the facts about the great importance of sleep, but what happens to your body when you don’t sleep?
1. Delayed Response
Poor sleep quality is often linked to lethargy and slow mental processing, which results in delayed response as you are too tired to access the information. It can also lead to inattentiveness and lack of alertness, resulting in mistakes and errors that can cost you your image or maybe more.
Sleep deprivation can also result in memory suppression. Improper sleep can slow down the brain’s activity to restore or process memory, making you forget information more often. It also prevents you from thinking creatively.
3. Fight-Flight-Freeze Mode On
Our brain is trained to control our primitive emotional reactions and keeps our immediate emotional outbursts under control. But when your body is sleep-deprived, it makes the brain believe that it’s in an emergency situation, resulting in the activation of the fight-flight-freeze mode, which reduces all the essential functions of the body, making it unable to function properly.
4. Prone to Sickness
Lack of sleep can impair the body’s immune system, making it difficult to fight off infections and diseases.
5. Cancer Comes Knocking your Door
Poor and shortened sleep has been connected to a greater incidence of certain cancers in both men and women, such as breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and the list continues.
6. Anxiety Takes Over
When you fall into a deep sleep that allows you to dream, your mind releases negative and anxiety-ridden energy. This helps to keep your overwhelming emotional reactions at bay, and you wake up feeling calmer and more positive. But in the case of sleep deprivation, all the negative energy builds up into a huge ball of anxious and chaotic thoughts, making your day strenuous and exhausting.
7. Causes you to Pack on the Pounds
One really common effect of lack of sleep is weight gain. People who sleep less than 5 hours a day are more likely to gain weight in the future and ultimately become obese.
As per American Sleep Association, sleep disorders affect approximately 50 to 70 million US adults, insomnia being the most commonly reported. There is a bundle of factors that trigger sleeping problems, the most common being stress. A few other factors responsible for sleep deprivation are consuming alcohol and caffeine-containing beverages in the afternoon or evening, exercising near bedtime, irregular night schedules, and many more.
There are several methods that can help you restore a good and healthy night’s sleep. Specific therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and other similar methods, have proven to be quite effective in making people fall asleep and eradicate insomnia and other sleep-related problems.