Sleep is as much a vital necessity as food. In fact, sleep is more important than food. You can go days without eating and still survive on your reserves but not with sleep; it is a fundamental physiological and biological process of every living species. Sleep facilitates a number of key functions that promote a stable internal environment also known homeostasis.
When you are deprived of sleep, this system can shift quite rapidly to a negative side and render you susceptible to many preventable diseases as well as put your mental faculties on a roller-coaster of haphazardness, insecurity, sadness, frustration and possibly threaten your sanity.
Here is why you must make some non-negotiable time for sleep:
1. Improves brain function ‘“ a good night sleep has been known to enhance cognitive functions. Therefore, it allows the consolidation of memory by converting short-term memory into long-term. It also helps you to learn better, increase your attention span and make sound judgements. For students, sleep helps them perform better in tests and exams at school.
According to Dr. Timothy Roehrs, the first researcher to study the correlation between sleep and effective decision-making, concluded that sleep has a tremendous impact on how we make choices and decisions.
Sleep allows your brain to effectively get rid of amyloid beta which is a byproduct of a protein fragment implicated in Alzheimer’s disease; this is according to a study funded by the NIH. Therefore, to minimize your risks of getting dementia, get enough sleep.
2. Prevents mental & social health problems ‘“ your emotions are controlled by the state of your internal environment. Sleep is the most natural and most sufficient process that can facilitate that stable internal environment. Mental problems such as suicidal thoughts, self-harming and reckless risk-taking behaviours as well as anxiety and depression can be kept at bay by getting enough sleep.
Besides preventing mental illness, in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), sleep is used to treat chronic insomnia which is normally a symptom of many psychological disorders. A third of patients who benefit from getting enough sleep reduce the morbidity of their illnesses e.g. depression by up to 50%.
3. Promotes growth and development ‘“ children require at least 9 hours of sleep a day for them to grow at a normal, healthy rate. A deep sleep, which is necessary for this triggers the release of hormones which leads to an increase in muscle mass, assist in repairing injured cells & tissues and help in the development of reproductive system. Some fertility conditions are due to an imbalance of homeostatic hormones and can be prevented by getting an uninterrupted, regular sleep.
4. Better physical health ‘“ Weight problems or even obesity can be prevented or managed with good sleep. The two hormones ghrelin (hungry hormone) and leptin (full hormone) are regulated by sleep patterns. When sleep-deprived, your hungry hormones rise above your full hormones and you find yourself constantly munching on something. One study illustrated how an hour of sleep lost, in teenagers, increased the risk of obesity
In the previous point, we mentioned that sleep repairs cells. In the cardiovascular system (the heart and blood vessels), sleep protects us from heart diseases by healing the cells in our blood vessels and the heart. It is also known to protect other organs such as the kidney, brain etc. According to epidemiological studies, there is increased morbidity and mortality in patients suffering from heart diseases who are sleep-deprived.
Sleep has been shown to provide good protective function against diabetes. By regulating how your body responds to insulin, it significantly lowers your risk for diabetes.
5. Maximize productivity ‘“ Our emotions, when out of control, can be quite energy consuming. People with sleeping problems are often groggy, angry, impulsive, moody, unmotivated and irritable. Their emotions are all over the place and cannot get much done or even done correctly. With sleep, you get to keep your emotions under control and are better equipped at coping with the day’s stresses. Your thinking is fresh and your reaction to situations is appropriate. You don’t micro-sleep or find the need to take short naps during the day. Sleep helps maintain your energy levels during the day. Therefore, sleep is rest. And when resting you are recharging your energy batteries to get ready and functional for the next day’s work. Without replenishing yourself with that new energy, there is very little you can accomplish before you breakdown.
Sleep is priceless and extremely crucial for your well-being. As Arnold Mindell (psychotherapist) tells WebMD, ‘sleep loss affects how you think, impairs your cognition, your attention and decision-making.’ We all know the pervasive and pivotal role our thought process plays in our lives. We live by the choices we make. We are the choices we make. And sleep greatly and hugely affects how we arrive to these choices. Start today, turn off your computer, switch off your TV, your Ipad, your every gadget with a screen and your lights and get in bed at least 15 ‘“ 20minutes before your normal bedtime. Protect your immunity and enrich your life with a good night sleep.