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The Importance of Sleep

Updated: Jul 4, 2019

We spend about a quarter to a third of our lives asleep, but many has underestimated the importance of sleep.


We spend about a quarter to a third of our lives asleep, but many has underestimated the importance of sleep.


Imagine yourself having a late-night sleep and you still have to wake up early the next day for work. How are you feeling in terms of emotions? Focus and concentration? Energy level?


Sleep not only affects you from a day to day function level, sleep influences all the major systems in our body and those systems in turn influence our sleep. Insufficient sleep can disrupt our bodily function s that affect how we think and behave, and vice versa. This then leads to a vicious cycle.


There are plenty of research that has shown that poor sleep quality can have serious consequences for our physical and mental health.


Emotion and Mood

Why are we more emotional and irritable when we don’t get enough sleep? Research has shown that when you are sleep deprived, you may become more intolerant and frustrated with others, and are more likely to blame others. You tend to lack empathy and are more self-centered. The pre-frontal cortex plays a role in emotional processing. When you are sleep deprived, there will be connections impaired with primitive parts of the brain such as amygdala and our emotions get affected. We are more negative in out thoughts and have narrower perspectives.


Brain and Performance

Sleep deprivation affects attention, vigilance, and complex thinking. Research show that most people begin to have slower reactions and response after being awake for 16 hours, and this increase if your brain still doesn’t get a rest. When we become more tires, the brain is not able to allocate tasks to its most appropriate and effective processing areas. Thus, we need more energy and more effort to perform when tired.


Memory

Sleep plays a crucial role in preparing the brain to acquire new information before learning and after learning. the brain consolidates our learning to long term memory banks, so we can retrieve them when needed. When sleep deprived, learning will be hindered and therefore having a problem with memorizing new information.


Weight

Sleep deprived also reduced the levels of hormone called leptin (which helps to suppress appetite) and increased the levels of peptide ghrelin (also called the hunger hormone, stimulates appetite). Thus, people that sleeps late or are sleep deprived have more urge to eat more and thus gain weight.


Immune System and Pain

The proper functioning of body’s immune system is compromised by poor sleep. Total sleep time and deep sleep helps us battle with infections. Similarly, quality and quantity sleep are disrupted by pain and illness, that delays healing. Research has shown the association between sleep deprived and increase in spontaneous pain and physical discomfort such as headaches, muscle and stomach pain.


Sleep Quantity + Sleep Quality = Medicine


The negative effects of sleep deprived often remains even when alertness and vigilance are restored with stimulants such as caffeine and sugar. Therefore, although we may feel more awake and alert, the body system’s may not be functioning at their best. So, look out for signs that your body may be signaling to you due to insufficient sleep.