The importance of sleep for our healthy well being

What is Sleep??

Sleep is a natural state of rest for both the body and mind, marked by reduced awareness and activity. When we sleep, our brain and body team up to balance hormones and recharge energy levels. Throughout the night, our brain cycles through different stages, including rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. This process is crucial for overall health and well-being. 

Excited to learn more? Here's a deeper dive into what occurs in your body and brain during sleep and why it's so significant:

When you close your eyes and drift off, your body goes through two main stages: REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep.

During non-REM sleep, your muscles relax, and your brain becomes less aware of what's going on around you. This stage makes up about 80% of your total sleep time.

Then, there's REM sleep. In this phase, your eyes move rapidly, your heart rate increases, and your brain becomes more active. REM sleep accounts for about 20% of your total sleep time and is when most dreams happen.

Two main systems regulate sleep: Circadian rhythms and Melatonin

 Circadian rhythms act as your body's internal clock, signalling when it's time to sleep and wake up. In the dark, these rhythms trigger the production of melatonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland that helps you fall asleep by acting on special receptors in your brain. Conversely, when it's light, melatonin production slows down, making you feel more awake and alert.

    How much sleep is necessary?

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives suggestions on how much sleep you need, and it varies depending on your age. It's essential to figure out the right amount for you since sleep requirements can differ across different age groups.

    Age Group

          Age

    Recommended Hours Of Sleep Per Day

    New-born

    0-3 months

    14-17 hours (National Sleep Foundation)

    Infant

    4-12 months

    12-16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)

    Toddler

    1-2 years

    11-14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)

    Preschool

    3-5 years

    10-13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)

    School Age

    6-12 years

    9-12 hours per 24 hours

    Teen

    13-18 years

    8-10 hours per 24 hours

    Adult

    18-60 years

    7 or more hours per 24 hours

    61-64 years

    7-9 hours

    65 years and older

    7-8 hours

     

    Now let's talk about how does sleep affect your health.

    1. Enhancing Memory: Have you ever struggled to remember things after a restless night? That's because sleep plays a crucial role in organizing memories. When you learn something new, your brain creates temporary connections between brain cells known as "synapses." These connections are vital for remembering information. However, sleep deprivation can disrupt these connections, leading to more frequent forgetfulness. So, if you're not getting enough sleep, you might notice yourself forgetting things more often.
    2. Controls Emotions: A good night's sleep helps manage emotions and social situations, improving relationships. When you don't get enough sleep, your brain's limbic system, which controls emotions, doesn't work as it should. This makes you more sensitive to negative emotions. Also, the part of your brain responsible for managing emotions, the prefrontal cortex, doesn't function properly. So, it's harder to control your feelings when you're sleep-deprived.
    3. Helps in digestion: Sleep deprivation can disrupt our digestive system, causing an increase in inflammation in the gut. This inflammation can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms like discomfort or upset stomach. So, good sleep not only supports digestion but also leaves you feeling refreshed and ready to enjoy your favourite foods the next day.
    4.  Reduces Risk of type 2 Diabetes: Getting good sleep isn't just about feeling refreshed, it also plays an important role in reducing the risk of insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes. When your blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas releases more insulin to handle the extra sugar. But if this happens often, your body becomes less responsive to insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels.
    5. Strengthens Immune System: Getting good uninterrupted sleep enhances immunity, aiding in fighting common colds and infections. The body heals and strengthens during sufficient sleep. Sleep helps your immune system by supporting its ability to defend against infections and inflammation. But when you don't get enough sleep, it can affect your immune system, causing changes in both innate (against foreign bodies, pathogens) and adaptive (against specific pathogens) immune responses. This can lead to chronic inflammation and raise the risk of infections.
    6. Reducing Stress: You know cortisol, the stress hormone? Normally, it's high in the morning and drops at night. But when you don't get enough sleep, this routine gets messed up. Your cortisol level stays pretty steady throughout the day, which can make you feel more stressed out. To prevent headaches and perform your best tomorrow, prioritize a good night's sleep tonight.
    7.  Helps with weight worries: Did you know that not sleeping enough can mess with your hunger hormones? When you're sleep-deprived, hormones like ghrelin (hunger) and leptin (fullness) are released. Not getting enough sleep can elevate ghrelin levels, which can increase the likelihood of overeating and, consequently, lead to weight gain and eventually obesity.
    So, the next time you're tempted to stay up late binge-watching your favourite show or scrolling through your phone, remember, getting enough sleep isn't just about feeling rested – it's about keeping your whole body happy and healthy.

     


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