Sleep is something that we all require –
After a goodnights rest, not only do you wake up feeling well, refreshed with your mood elevated and ready to take on the day productively. Sleep studies have not only established that sleep deprivation is detrimental to your over all health. Therefore, quality and quantity of your sleep plays a vital role in many areas of your life. Particularly, impacting on mood, judgement, motivation and perception/ critical thinking and analysis. Sleep enables the body to repair and rejuvenate itself, as well as all of it’s systems and functions. Enabling us to function optimally throughout the day. Adequate sleep is also imperative to immune function, metabolism, memory, learning and other vital functions.
Restorative Functions –
Discoveries have been made that sleep has a vital part in many of the restorative functions in the body. Including but not limited to muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis and growth hormones.
Tissue Repair – Whilst asleep the body repairs any cells and or tissues that may have been damaged through out the day. Therefore, portraying anti-ageing characteristics. Unrepairable cells and tissue are replaced or replicated. Therefore, the old adage “Beauty Sleep”, is not too far from the truth scientifically.
Growth hormones – are released mostly or in some cases, ONLY during a deep sleep by the pituitary gland. Enhancing metabolism of proteins, lipids and carbohydrates whereby promoting growth of the body. Furthermore, boosting muscle mass. Consequently, growth in children and young adults can be hampered by inadequate sleep. So if you were ever told as a child “You need to sleep well to grow”, this ‘myth’ has now also been proven to be true.
Memory and Learning –
Researchers have made some astounding findings in the relationship between newly acquired information and the consolidation of that information which occurs during sleep. This area of study is being explored further by sleep scientists. Currently, it is known that during Slow Wave Sleep (SWS) otherwise known as deep sleep new information gets processed and consolidated.
This is achieved through the strengthening of neural connections that form memories and the formation of new pathways. Both of which are imperative processes for learning new information. Therefore, suggesting that sleep is important before and after learning new information. As it aids in the recollection of memories/ previously learned information. “Have a good nights sleep before your exam” another common piece of advice for students, which was previously believed to be nothing but a fable has now been scientifically proven.
Regulating Weight –
Ever found yourself raiding the fridge on nights when you’ve stayed up passed your normal bedtime? This is due to the fact that when your body is out of energy and requires rest/sleep it releases the appetite hormone known as ghrelin and the levels of leptin hormones are lowered (the hormones that sends the message to your brain that you are in fact full) which triggers a hunger response in the brain.
Lack of Sleep –
Continual inadequate quality and quantity of sleep can have serious ramifications on your health. Causing slower response time in assessing situations and can even be likened to the effects of alcohol. The rate at which you receive and process information can be lowered along with decreased focus, attention spans and vigilance. Resulting in an increase in errors. Fatigued neurons in the brain find it difficult to coordinate information correctly and access to information previously learned is impaired. Therefore debilitating problem solving, analytical thinking, creativity and decision making.
To view the recommended hours of sleep per age group by the National sleep foundation, click here.