Why Do We Need Sleep? A Perfect Guide For You! Update 02/2023

Sleep is a necessary process that allows your body and mind to recover so that you can wake up feeling rejuvenated and aware. Healthy sleep is also important for keeping the body disease-free and healthy. The brain cannot function effectively without enough sleep. Your capacity to focus, think clearly, and process memories may be hampered by this.

Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Particularly if they are younger than five years old, kids and teenagers require a lot more sleep. Medical issues, work schedules, everyday worries, a noisy bedroom, and other factors can all keep us from getting adequate sleep. An appropriate quantity of sleep each night can be ensured with a balanced diet and favorable lifestyle choices, but for some people, persistent sleeplessness may be the first indication of a sleep disorder.

The Science Behind Sleep

Your sleep cycle is governed by an internal “body clock” that determines when you feel sleepy and ready for bed or awake and aware. This clock runs on the circadian rhythm, a 24-hour cycle. You’ll feel fatigued after waking up from sleep, and this will continue throughout the day. Prior to going to bed, these emotions will reach their climax in the evening.
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Adenosine, an organic substance made in the brain, may be related to this sleep drive, also known as sleep-wake homeostasis. As you get tireder throughout the day, your adenosine levels rise; however, during sleep, your body breaks down this substance.

The circadian cycle is influenced by light as well. The suprachiasmatic nucleus, a group of cells in the hypothalamus that process signals when the eyes are exposed to natural or artificial light, is a specific region of nerve cells in the brain known as the hypothalamus. The brain uses these signals to decide whether it is day or night.

Melatonin, a hormone that causes drowsiness, is released by the body as the sun sets in the evening. The hormone cortisol, which promotes energy and alertness, is released by the body as the sun rises in the morning.

Stages of Sleep

Once we are sleeping, our bodies go through a four-stage sleep cycle. Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep refers to the first three stages, whereas rapid eye movement (REM) sleep refers to the last stage.

  • Stage 1 NREM: This first stage, which comprises of light sleep, represents the passage from wakefulness to sleep. Your heart rate, breathing, and eye movements start to slow down as your muscles rest. Your brain waves, which are more active when you are awake, also start to calm down. Stage 1 usually lasts for a while.
  • Second NREM stage: Your heart and breathing rates continue to drop down during this second NREM stage, and your muscles continue to relax. This stage is characterized by deeper sleep. Your body temperature will drop and your eye movements will stop. Brain waves also stay sluggish, with only a few transient bursts of higher frequency electrical activity. The second stage of sleep is usually the longest.
  • Stage 3 NREM: This stage is crucial for helping you wake up feeling rested and awake. The muscles are as relaxed as they can be, and the levels of heartbeat, breathing, and brain wave activity are all at their lowest points. This stage will start out lengthy and get shorter as the night goes on.
  • REM: About 90 minutes after you go to sleep, you will enter the first REM period. Your eyes will travel fast back and forth under your eyelids, as the term implies. Blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate will start to rise. Your arms and legs will normally go paralyzed as you dream, which is thought to be an attempt to stop you from physically acting out your dreams. This usually happens during REM sleep. As the night wears on, each REM sleep cycle lasts longer. The process of turning freshly learned experiences into long-term memories is known as memory consolidation, and numerous studies have connected REM sleep to this process. As you get older, the REM stage will last for shorter periods of time, thus you’ll spend more time in the NREM stages.

These four phases will cycle back and forth till you awaken in the morning. Each cycle will last the majority of people between 90 and 120 minutes. NREM sleep makes up roughly 75 to 80 percent of each cycle. Also possible is a brief nighttime awakening that you won’t recall the next day. The “W” stages are what these episodes are known as.

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How Much Sleep Do Humans Need?

Your age has a major impact on the recommended quantity of sleep. The following daily sleep recommendations are made by the National Sleep Foundation for various age groups.

Age Group Age Range Recommended Amount of Sleep per Day
Newborn 0-3 months 14-17 hours
Infant 4-11 months 12-15 hours
Toddler 1-2 years 11-14 hours
Preschool 3-5 years 10-13 hours
School-age 6-13 years 9-11 hours
Teen 14-17 years 8-10 hours
Young Adult 18-25 years 7-9 hours
Adult 26-64 years 7-9 hours
Older Adult 65 years or older 7-8 hours

Reasons Why Sleep Is Important

We should do numerous things each day to maintain our health, including exercise, eat healthfully, and drink enough of water. For some reason though, sleep doesn’t rank highly on the list. It ought to be. Sleeping well is essential for both our physical and emotional wellbeing, according to experts. Making sleep a priority is necessary since sleep deprivation can have long-lasting repercussions. Here are four compelling arguments for why your body and mind require sleep to motivate you:

Reason 1: Helps brain function

We are more focused and attentive after a restful night’s sleep. It is simpler to learn, solve problems, and make decisions. But when we don’t get enough sleep, our brain functions poorly. We react slowly and are “foggy.” Chronic sleep deprivation might affect our judgment, which can cause fatal mishaps. In fact, one of the main factors contributing to fatal auto accidents is being fatigued.

Reason 2: Keeps emotions in check

We have better emotional and behavioral control when we are well-rested. Without enough sleep, for instance, adults could experience mood swings, while kids might act out or have social difficulties. Depressive disorders, suicide, and risky conduct are all associated with sleep deprivation.

Reason 3: Reduces disease risk

In addition, chronic sleep deprivation raises a person’s risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart disease, and stroke. Additionally, our immune system is impacted by lack of sleep. Lack of sleep may make it more difficult for people to fight off common viruses like the cold or the flu.

Reason 4: Keeps weight under control

People who get less sleep than the recommended amount tend to eat more than their non-sleep-deprived counterparts because sleep deprivation disrupts the body’s ability to control hunger hormones. In fact, one study found that those who regularly go without enough sleep are 55% more likely to gain weight. Getting enough sleep is essential if you want to slim down.

The Importance of Getting Enough Sleep

Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep per night to maintain healthy levels of alertness and productivity. It’s important to get enough shut-eye because not doing so might have serious consequences. Studies have indicated that those who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to experience memory and focus problems, slower reaction times, and a wider range of emotional responses.

Some research also suggests that with time, sleep deprivation may become tolerable. In spite of the fact that their minds and bodies are struggling because of sleep deprivation, they could not recognize their own shortcomings because less sleep feels normal to them. Sleep deprivation has also been associated with an increased danger of developing several diseases and health problems. Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, Stroke, Poor Mental Health, and Early Death are some of them.
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Achieving the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night can be accomplished by the adoption of healthy practices related to one’s daily routine and one’s sleeping environment. The following are examples of these types of phrases:

  • Set a reasonable bedtime and honor it, especially on weekends.
  • Make sure your bedroom is at a pleasant temperature and that the lights are dimmed or off.
  • Make sure you have a pleasant place to sleep by using a supportive mattress, pillows, and linens that are tailored to your specific needs.
  • You might want to put your bedroom TV, computer, tablet, and phone on “screen ban” status.
  • You should avoid consuming any caffeinated beverages or heavy meals in the hours before night.
  • Please don’t smoke at all, day or night.
  • If you work out throughout the day, you may find that it’s easier to unwind and get ready for bed at night.
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