Why is Sleep Important
- Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory
- Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
- Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
- Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
- Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
- Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.
How Much Sleep Do We Need
Everyone’s individual sleep needs vary. In general, most healthy adults are built for 16 hours of wakefulness and need an average of eight hours of sleep a night. However, some individuals are able to function without sleepiness or drowsiness after as little as six hours of sleep. Others can’t perform at their peak unless they’ve slept ten hours.
What Does Normal Sleep Look Like
- sleep is divided into five continually shifting stages between lighter and deeper sleep
- toward morning REM increases and muscles are relaxed = more dreams
- Value of sleep is affected if increments are short eg. Hitting snooze multiple times
What Affects Our Sleep
- Drinking alcohol
- Caffeine too close to bedtime
- Exercising close to bedtime
- Following an irregular sleep/wake cycle
- Doing mentally intense activities just before bed
- Screen viewing before bed
- Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule
- Don’t drink or eat caffeine four to six hours before bed and minimize daytime use
- Don’t smoke, especially near bedtime or if you awake in the night
- Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before sleep
- Get regular exercise
- Minimize noise, light and excessive hot and cold temperatures where you sleep
- Develop a regular bed time and go to bed at the same time each night
- Practice relaxation techniques