Saturday, June 7, 2008
Sleep is important. This is common knowledge. However, when work, kids and schedules factor into the equation, sleep is often one of the first things quickly shuffled to the bottom of the priority list. the question is why?
Sleep is a physical and mental resting state in which we become almost totally inactive and unaware of the environment. Unlike a coma, we can be aroused from this detached state (depending on how light or heavy a sleeper you are), but for the most part , our senses block external stimuli. Body temperature, blood pressure, and breathing rate all decrease, but interestingly, the brain remains active.
Why do we sleep?
Your biological clock is always ticking and that internal sense of time plays a major role in sleep. technically known as circadian rhythms, the biological clock tells the body when to be asleep and awake, a cycle that is typically 24 hours. science shows that in humans, the brain's metabolic activity decreases significantly after 24 hours of non-stop wakefulness. This means that the chemical process by which brain cells produce the substances and energy needed to sustain life suffers with prolonged sleep-deprivation.
Why is sleep important?
The US institute of Medicine has reported confirmed links between sleep deprivation and an increase in hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack and stroke. In addition to allowing us to function normally throughout the day, proper sleep is linked to restorative processes in the immune system. If sleep deprivation is persistent, the person can experience even more severe consequences, including significant mood swings, obesity, diabetes, erratic behaviour, hallucinations and in the most extreme cases, a shortened life-span.
How much sleep do we need?
The answer to this question varies with age. Infants pretty much sleep all the time, racking up around 16 hours a day. Teenagers need about 9 hours to keep them from being bratty nightmares. The number varies as well, with some people needing only 5 and others requiring 10 hours sleep each day. Last year a study from the university of Chicago suggested that the average figure required was 7.2 hours, but recent studies have shown improved performance of people that sleep more than 8 hours a night over those that don't.
How to get better sleep?
Make a conscious effort to go to bed and get up at the same time every day even on the weekends.
Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol are stimulants that can keep you awake. So avoid these when it is sleep time.
Cut down your commute. Not sure if everyone can do it.
Make use of the weekends - reduce your sleep debt by getting at least a couple of extra hours on Saturday and Sunday.
Slow down your snooze - However tired you are, spend some time in a dimmer light prior to trying to achieve sleep.
So hope you have a good sleep.. nighty night....