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Importance Of Sleep

Updated on October 22, 2011

For a very long time people thought that sleep was the state where the mind rests and is inactive. Now however we know better. Scientific research has proven that sleep is in fact not a state of inactivity.

Sleep is the phenomenon that still has scientists in intrigue. Researches have now concluded that sleep is in fact a time during which the brain is very much active and it is absolutely essential for a healthy body and mind to maintain a pattern of healthy sleeping habits.

The phenomenon of sleep can be described as a state of unconsciousness form which a person can be awaken. During this time the brain is less sensitive to stimulus received from the outside and is more sensitive to the internal stimuli.

Sleep can also be defined as the abrupt shutdown of the neural processes which help us to perceive the world around us better. To understand the importance of sleep, we need to understand the basics of what sleep is?

How Sleep Works

During the day, the pineal gland in our body inhibits the release of melatonin, a natural hormone. This hormone affects our alertness directly. Low levels of melatonin in the blood are associated with high alertness and efficiency in performing the daily tasks.

Similarly, higher levels induce stress and tiredness, hence our biological clock uses this way to tell us that it wants some rest and it is now time to shut down.

This hormone is excreted more actively during the night time, which explains why, at the end of a day, our shoulders start hurting and normal physical activity becomes harder to carry out.

The Effect Of Sleep On A Body

During sleep, our body is at work repairing and draining away the effects of all the hard days work. In young people, the body cells repair themselves by increasing their production of proteins.

The heart rate slows down and those parts of the brain that help a person in managing daily routine social contact with his surrounding, take a break.

Types Of Sleep

There are two basic types of sleep:

  • NREM (Non- rapid eye movement) sleep
  • REM (Rapid eye movement) sleep

To understand what happens during sleep, let’s examine these two types of sleeping modes:

NREM sleep

This is the literal snooze period during which the body gradually loses consciousness. This period is divided into 4 sub-categories.

During the first and the second stage, the person becomes heavy lidded and sleepy. Even though a person is not yet asleep, the eyes close on their own.

During this period a person is still very much responsive to the surrounding and can answer any question directed towards him/her. During the 2nd stage, the temperature of the body drops down and the breathing becomes heavy

In the 3rd stage, a person literally “nods off”. It is the stage during which the body loses further consciousness and gradually shuts down.

The brainwaves get larger and the temperature of the body further lowers. Also the breathing gets heavier. At this stage of the sleep a person can still be shaken awake very easily.

The 4th stage is the restorative stage during which the body loses consciousness totally. It is the time during which the heart rate slows down and the body shuts itself down to the surrounding stimuli to a higher degree. During this period, to wake a person requires an amount of effort.

REM sleep

After a period of NREM sleep, the REM stage occurs. This is intermittent through the NREM stage of sleep all through the night and they both occur in cycles. It is the sleep during which dreams occur.

REM plays a very big part in the re organization and restoration of the brain. During this period activities like problem-solving, information processing and memory consolidation occur.

The brainwaves become faster and sometimes are even faster than the time during which we are awake.

The Importance Of Sleep For A Healthy Life

The importance of sleep cannot be repeated enough times.  It is a well known fact that sleep is important for us. Just how important, is something that people don’t realize fully. We spend one third of our life sleeping and there is certainly a reason for this.

he various systems in our body work efficiently only if they receive the proper rest that sleep gives them. It is also, along with proper diet an exercise, the most effective way to live a healthier and longer life.

Sleep deprivation causes low levels of immunity in human beings. People who do not give their bodies the required amount of sleep have a low count of white blood cells in their bodies- the white blood cells are of course the cells which protect the body and act as the “security guards”.

It also results in erratic and unpredictive behavior - sleeplessness tends to make most people vicious, while others get grouchy. In the extreme of cases, people become delusional and suffer from hallucinations.

People who go longer periods of time without sufficient sleep develop sleep debts. Most people who live an extremely busy life suffer from this. It is very important to note that sleep debts can be resolved by sleeping over the period of time limit which usually makes up a person’s daily sleeping pattern.

The importance of sleep is enormous, both for a healthy body and a healthy life. I t is important to note that everyone needs sleep. No matter how busy or important a person you are and how much important stuff you have still left to do.

Make sure you fill up on your sleep, because if you don’t, the things you had to do, still wouldn’t be done anyway.


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