Reasons Why Sufficient Sleep is Important to Your Health
Our focus for this article is to peruse the reasons why sufficient sleep is important to your health. When thinking about how to maintain good health, what comes to mind often is sports, nutrition, vitamins, wearing appropriate clothing for the right weather and in this dangerous time of coronavirus, donning face masks and washing hands. These things are undoubtedly important, but one that should be a high priority in maintaining good health but is less considered is sleep.
Why sufficient sleep is important to your health
Studies have shown that at least 30 percent of the world’s population suffers from sleep disorders, but an even higher percentage of people do not pay enough attention to sleep quality out of ignorance. Lack of sleep has a negative impact on the rhythm of life, mood, relationships, and most importantly, health. Poor sleep quality makes it difficult for a person to adapt to the environment and promotes memory problems. People who do not sleep are more likely to cause traffic accidents, have accidents, find it harder to make adequate decisions, and have less creativity. In addition to all these facts, lack of sleep also causes several physical and psychological illnesses – from diabetes, heart and blood pressure problems to obesity or depression.
While it is common to realize that our body rests during sleep, the brain does a great job during these hours. Every phase of sleep – deep sleep, light sleep, or dreams – is vital to our successful functioning. During sleep, we “organize” the information we receive during the day: we destroy the unnecessary part, and we move the useful part from the temporary to the long-term memory, thus freeing up space for new knowledge. Sleep also produces new cells throughout the body and produces hormones. So, living with a constant lack of sleep leads to deprivation of these sleep-related processes which causes health problems.
Because we spend most of our productive time at work every day, lack of sleep or enough sleep has a big impact on work as well. 8 or more hours of sleep on a regular basis provides a significantly higher level of productivity, as well as energy, in terms of concentration, better memory of information, greater creativity, and a less stressful mood. Research has shown that longer sleeps also bring financial benefits to employees.
Types of sleeping cycle: Restful and restless sleep
The sleep cycle consists of several phases that alternate and repeat. At different stages of sleep, the human brain functions differently, the body can move or remain in a stable position. A single sleep cycle lasts an average of 1.5 to 2 hours.
Stages of human sleep
Restful sleep consists of 3 phases that last an average of 5 to 15 minutes. All these 3 phases must be completed before entering the restless sleep (REM) phase.
Phase 1: This is the transition from activity to sleep, lasting about 5-15 minutes. The voices move away little by little and the first images of dreams begin to blur before my eyes. If someone wakes a person at this stage, he usually claims not to have slept.
Phase 2: At this stage, the body temperature drops, and the heart rate slows down. Uncontrolled twitching of the extremities, incoherent speech, or even simulated walking usually occurs.
Phase 3: This is the stage of deep sleep. Breathing becomes slow and regular, the heart beats in a calm rhythm, body temperature drops, muscles completely relax.
At the end of the first 3 phases, the restless sleep phase begins. The normal restless sleep phase begins 90 minutes after falling asleep. The first restless sleep period lasts about 10 minutes. All other subsequent periods become longer, until finally the last one can last about an hour.
Phase 4: Rapid eye movement stage (REM) also known as the world of dreams, usually usher in dream. The experience of the previous day is then processed. Here the heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, and so on. The REM stage is short, approximately 5-10 minutes, but may last up to 20-40 minutes in subsequent cycles. Here are some activities of the body that occur during restless sleep:
- Pulse and breathing accelerate.
- The brain, and dreams, are the most intense.
- Sleepwalking occurs.
- Accounts for 20-25% of total adult sleep time.
- Restless sleep is most intense a few hours before waking up.
While most people think that good sleep is when we sleep for 7-9 hours, this is not entirely true. Yes, sleep duration is important, but equally important are factors such as:
- Number of awakenings.
- The duration of each phase of sleep.
- Cyclicality of sleep phases.
The phases of sleep change one after the other as all phases of sleep pass. This can be called a cycle. Good night’s sleep consists of about 5-6 sleep cycles.
How much sleep a person needs depends on a variety of circumstances, including age. Babies usually sleep about 16 hours a day, and adolescents an average of 9 hours. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep, although some require 5 hours or need 10 hours each night. Women often need a few hours more sleep than usual during the first three months of pregnancy. The need for sleep also increases if the person has not fallen asleep beforehand: too little sleep constitutes sleep deficit. A person does not seem to adapt to shorter sleep duration than he or she needs: you may be accustomed to constant insomnia, but you’re thinking, reaction time, and other functions will be disrupted.
With age, sleep becomes less deep, sleeping shorter, although the need for sleep remains like that in youth. About half of people over the age of 65 experience sleep disorders (such as insomnia), and deep sleep stages become very short or disappear altogether for many older people. Such changes may be a normal part of the aging process for some people and may be due to health problems or medication.
10 Tips for getting a good sleeping
- Follow sleep mode, that is lie down at the same time and set an alarm for the time you go to sleep and the time you wake up.
- Avoid rigorous exercise and eating more 2-3 hours before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Their effects on the body last up to eight hours and they complicate the sleep process.
- Do not drink alcohol at bedtime. The body does not go into a vital state of deep sleep, sleep is sensitive, you wake up easily.
- Try as much as possible to avoid taking medications that prevent sleep at night. (Take them early in the evening, not when you are about to get in bed).
- Relax in bed. Relax, allow time for yourself while reading or listening to music.
- Take a warm bath before going to bed. It will make you feel drowsy, relax, and be better prepared for sleep.
- The bedroom should be dark, cool and have less varied appliances.
- Be in the sun at the right time of day. Daylight determines your daily sleep rhythm, so try to spend at least half an hour in natural daylight every day.
- If you find it difficult to fall asleep, do not roll over in bed for a long time. If you haven’t fallen asleep in 20 minutes or have already started to worry, it’s better to get up and engage in soothing activities until you feel like you want to sleep.
Following the prescribed sleep hygiene will improve your general wellbeing.