Do we really need to sleep?

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We need to sleep to make sure we recharge our batteries for the next day. Often after a long day at work you won’t be able to resist nodding off to sleep. This is a biological requirement as without sleep people can develop serious health problems. But why exactly do we need to do it?

It’s vital to live

If you don’t sleep you won’t live, it’s that simple. Although it might be great if we could give ourselves more time in the day, it would actually do more harm than good if we were to start skipping our sleep. During the time we spend asleep our bodies are healing themselves and learning from our experiences of the previous day.

When it’s time to sleep, sleep

Our body clocks tell us it’s time to rest, so our bodies oblige and start slowing down, preparing us for a nice long snooze. The technical term for our body clock is the circadian clock. It is a bunch of neurons behind your eyes that are continuously reacting to light. Because of this circadian clock, our bodies need to be asleep during the night when it is dark and awake during the day. Humans evolved before we invented artificial lights so things like computers can impact how well we sleep. If you’re looking at a screen, like a computer or phone, before you got to sleep your body clock will be tricked by the light and think it still needs to be awake. It is important we distance ourselves from our electronic devices when we begin to feel tired; otherwise, we could end up awake much longer than we need to be. This can lead you into a cycle of tiredness as the next day you will be more tired and unable to function as well as you’d like. If you miss out on good sleep a couple of times a week, you’ll be struggling by the time the weekend arrives.

Sleep is good for you

It makes you healthier. Sleeping better has proven to improve your metabolism and your mental health. When you consistently get good sleep, you can improve your memory skills as you will be reinforcing what you’ve learned that day during your sleep. As well as improving your memory it can also boost your creativity, your brain is able to strengthen emotional components during sleep which is believed to help in the creative process.

REM

It is important you are able to sleep for a sustained period of time to achieve what is known as REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. REM sleep is when dreaming occurs and is considered the deepest state of rest a person can be in. When in this state a person will have heightened brain activity and more vivid dreams. REM sleep tends to happen in the final hours of a person’s sleep cycle, normally around the seven or eight-hour mark. If you are only getting six hours sleep or less, then you could be missing out on this hugely beneficial stage of sleep. Without healthy occurrences of REM sleep, people are at increased risk of early death, heart disease, and dementia, as well as issues with driving while drowsy and an increased level of irritability.

So that’s why sleep is important, you’ll die without it, and if you aren’t getting enough, you are going to struggle to function. If you aren’t able to get enough sleep, you’ll be at a higher risk of some health problems. These all seem like good reasons to do your best to get some shut-eye this evening if you ask us.

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