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Everyone wants to lie down in their beds at bedtime and effortlessly float away to a magical land of slumber, staying there until their alarm clock calls them back in the morning. For a lot of people, it’s just not that simple. Some people have a hard time falling asleep, but when they finally do, they stay asleep until their regular wake-up time. Others can easily fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow, but they wake up just as easily throughout the night. In both cases, this has a serious impact on a person’s overall quality of life.
It’s simple, sleep is an essential part of our lives, as it’s necessary for normal neurological and other physiologic functioning. Just as important as a healthy diet, a good night’s sleep reduces the risk of disease and weight gain in both children and adults. Though it may seem like people experience complete body and mind shutdown during sleep, this is not the case. The human body still works. Processing, restoration, and strengthening are occurring during this period, making sleep a crucial ingredient of a healthy life.
When people are awake, their brains absorb a lot of information. Processing and storing all this information happens during sleep. Memories are solidified and consolidated. They are transferred from short-term memory to long-term memory. After sleeping, people tend to retain information and improve their performance in memory-intense tasks.
In summary, people require adequate sleep for their bodies to restore and rejuvenate. Muscle growth, tissue repair, and hormone synthesis also depend on good sleep. Children need more sleep than adults because of their critical periods of growth and learning. Kids develop their language, social, and motor skills at a fast pace, making proper sleeping patterns essential for optimal development.
There are recommended guidelines for each age group to get adequate sleep. Most adults aged 18 to 64 require seven to nine hours a night. Here are a few steps that will help you keep a healthy sleeping pattern:
Sleep deprivation can be extremely dangerous, especially since you can’t make up for the sleep you lose. Lack of sleep and poor sleeping habits can lead to accidents and injuries in the workplace. This is because sleep deprivation impairs cognitive processes like our attention span, focus, alertness, and problem-solving abilities. Healthy sleep habits have consistent bedtime routines to meet our sleep needs.
Insomnia is a sleeping disorder where a person has trouble falling and staying asleep. Many people suffering from insomnia also deal with health conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes. As people sleep, their brains form pathways between nerve cells that to remember what they have learned. Not getting enough sleep will cause the brain to be exhausted and not perform at optimum.
Mental health can be compromised too. Individuals may start to portray impulsive behavior, anxiety, depression, paranoia, and even suicidal thoughts. It even possible for sleep-deprived individuals to start having hallucinations, seeing and/or hearing things that are just not there. Some people can suffer a manic episode because of sleep deprivation, especially those dealing with conditions like bipolar disorder.
Nighttime breathing disorders like apnea can interrupt and lower the quality of your sleep. Waking up throughout the night causes sleep deprivation, leaving the individual vulnerable to respiratory infections like the flu and worsening existing respiratory diseases. Hormones leptin and ghrelin are affected by the quality of sleep. These two control hunger pangs and feeling full. Leptin tells your brain when you’ve had enough to eat. Lack of sleep reduces leptin and raises ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, causing night eating syndrome in severe cases.
Sleep-deprived individuals have higher levels of insulin, which is responsible for controlling blood sugar levels. Increased insulin promotes the storage of fat, preventing it from being converted into energy, as well as raising the risk of type II diabetes.
The best way to treat sleep deprivation is by simply getting more sleep. It’s not as easy as it sounds, especially if you’ve suffered for extended periods. Medical doctors and sleep specialists may need to diagnose and treat any possible sleep disorder.
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