Why We Need Sleep

By: Taylor Mogg

Sleep is essential for a person’s health and well-being. Yet, millions of people do not get the proper amount of sleep that is needed every night (around 8 hours); with reasons varying from sleep disorders to simply watching too much Netflix at night. We all know how we feel the next morning when we did not get enough sleep the night before, but do we fully understand the reality and the toll that sleep deprivation can take on our bodies? Sleep plays a drastic role in a person’s physical and mental health that is often overlooked.

Physically, during sleep your body begins to repair the heart and blood vessels. If sleep deprivation is ongoing for some time it can increase the risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. If you are sleep deprived, your body may have trouble fighting common infections.

Mentally, while you’re sleeping your brain is preparing for the next day by repairing pathways to help you learn and remember information. Alters in brain activity can occur if a person is sleep deprived. There have been many known “side effects” of sleep deprivation; such as: trouble making decisions, problem solving, controlling emotions and behavior, and coping with change. It has also been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behaviors.

Since many people suffer from sleep deprivation, the National Sleep Foundation has provided many tips on how to get a better night’s sleep:

1. Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake time (even on weekends).
2. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.
3.  Avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.
4.  Exercise daily.
5.  Rearrange your room. It should be cool, noise free, and free from any lights.
5.  Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
6.  Don’t go to bed hungry, but don’t go to bed extremely full. Try eating before 7:00PM and you should be set until morning.
7. Stay away from alcohol before bed.
8.  This is probably the hardest step for most people: stay off your phone and turn off the TV.

So for the sake of your mental and physical health try to go to sleep earlier and wake up at a reasonable time. Stay off your phone and turn off the TV and just relax a little while. Your body will thank you in the long run.

References:

http://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why.aspx

https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-tools-tips/healthy-sleep-tips

 

 

Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Health Studies department