How Important is Sleep?
I’m sure you’ve heard someone say they’ve trained themselves to get by on some terribly inadequate amount of sleep per night, and that it doesn’t even bother them anymore. After all, sleep is just so we’re not feeling lethargic and unfocused in the morning… right?
Not even close! Sleep helps us function in so many more ways outside of just not feeling tired:
- Sleep helps us commit information and events we’ve taken in throughout the day to our memories through a process called consolidation.
- It even helps us manage our weight by way of how our bodies store carbs and other fats – less sleep means it’ll be even harder for you to lose weight!
- Sleeping gives us better concentration during the day. It seems obvious, but we’ll concentrate more on our tasks at hand (and keeping ourselves safe) much more then if we’re groggy.
- Better sleep means we will be in a better mood all day.
- Sleep allows us to keep our hearts and our bodies in general health. Sleep deprivation can easily lead to hypertension, extra stress being put on the heart, irregular heartbeat/arrhythmia, lowered immune functions, and may contribute to cancer.
- When we are sleeping, our body is healing. Without proper sleep, you will get sick more often and take longer to get better.
So how much sleep should you be getting then? Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best the next day, with children and teens needing even more than that. Sure, you might be able to get by on five hours of sleep per night, but it isn’t going to do you any favors in the long run.
Sleep works in four different stages:
- Stage one is where you’re transitioning into sleep. This stage lasts about five minutes, and you can be easily awakened if disturbed.
- Stage two is light sleep, which lasts anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes. Your heart begins to slow down, your temperature begins to drop, and your eyes cease any movement.
- Stage three is deep sleep, where being disturbed to the point of awakening is more difficult.
- Stage four is Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, and occurs about 70 to 90 minutes into sleep. This is the stage at which you begin to dream. Your blood is mainly in your brain and your arms and legs are temporarily paralyzed, while your breathing is shallow and your heart rate and blood pressure increase.
Getting enough sleep means reaching, and spending enough time in each one of these stages. Skipping any or not reaching some means waking up and feeling groggy and slow.
Not sure if you get enough sleep? Some of the main symptoms of sleep deprivation are:
- Needing multiple alarms to get out of bed.
- Relying on the snooze button to get a few extra minutes each morning.
- Feeling tired or sluggish in the afternoon and beginning to fall asleep during daily activities.
- Becoming tired after eating.
- Feeling the need to sleep in extra to catch up on the weekends.
If all of these sound familiar to you, then you might want to consider getting a little more shut eye more often.
With all of this in mind, try and sleep a little more tonight!