Why Sleep Is Important – The Frisky


The benefit of a good night’s sleep can never be overrated or understated. And while many studies indicate this, you don’t need a scientist to tell you why it is important.

We are keenly aware of how awful we feel when we lack a good night’s rest, especially if it is an ongoing problem. Quite frankly, it sucks. As well as being tired and grumpy, it can lead to some serious health problems.

On average, we require 8 hours a night to be able to function properly throughout the day. It is when we continually don’t get that required sleep that our problems arise.

Why We Sleep

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It is almost funny that in this scientific age, we still don’t know why we suddenly need top close our eyes and put our bodies into some dormant state. There are ideas and theories which may indicate that it is related to changes in how our brain is structured and organized. But there is nothing concrete and irrefutable. It is still a bit of a mystery.

The main theories are inactivity (adaptive or evolutionary) theory, energy conservation theory, restorative theories, and the latest theory known as ‘brain plasticity’.

Inactivity Theory

This old, and now less likely, theory believes that inactivity at night was a survival function that enabled an organism to stay safe.

A glaring flaw with this idea is that if a predator were around, you would think you would want to be awake and aware of it to have a better chance of survival. The idea of being completely oblivious to danger doesn’t exactly scream evolutionary survival.

Energy Conservation Theory

It is said that a big factor in natural selection can be found in the competition for and effective use of energy resources. While this isn’t directly evident in our modern age, it can still come into play in our biological makeup. Many scientists see it is a great way of conserving energy to save it for when you need it most.

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Restorative Theories

These theories believe that a short nap helps to restore or refresh our body and mind. All the wear and strain we put ourselves through, both mentally and physically, add up. A good night’s rest has a way of setting things straight by allowing your body to renew and rejuvenate itself.

Studies carried out over the years tend to give this idea some support showing that many of the so-called restorative processes, muscle growth, etc., take place during these resting periods. Some have even been shown to occur only when we are not awake and at no other time.

Brain Plasticity

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This theory is considered one of the most compelling to date and, according to Harvard University, is ‘based on findings that resting is correlated to changes in the structure and organization of the brain’. Like other theories, brain plasticity is not entirely understood. There is still that bit of mystery, of the unknown, around it.

It is believed that brain plasticity and its connection to it ‘has several critical implications’ and will continue to be studied.

Clearly, we cannot explain exactly why we do it, but understanding that it is a work in progress. But one thing we do know for sure is the positive and negative effects of sleeping well or not.

Positives of a Good Sleep

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The main positive, aside from just being able to function properly, is to do with learning and memory.

Although it is not fully understood, studies have been carried out which indicate the two are closely related.

When we are deprived of rest, it is hard to focus and be attentive, which obviously hinders our ability to learn.

It has also been found that it plays a vital role in the consolidation of memory, so we need the proper quantity and quality to help us retain new information.

It seems that while we not awake, our brain continues to process information. This could be the reason we often have an enlightening or understanding moment about something after a good night’s rest.

It has been shown that a lack of it can increase your risk of developing problems like high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.

It is believed that your sympathetic nervous system activates your cardiovascular system and increases your blood pressure in preparation for waking up. But if you are constantly waking up throughout the night, it means your blood pressure will be higher than usual, and you may suffer the negative effects of that.

Your body needs rest to recuperate from the stresses it has been subjected to throughout the day. A consistent good sleep means your body will function as it’s supposed to and will effectively help your immune system detect and destroy any foreign invaders your body might encounter.

Certain animal studies have shown that deprivation can have a devastating effect on the immune system.

Negatives Of Not Sleeping Well

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While a sleepless night may make you a tad irritable, an ongoing issue is almost shocking in the extent of its effects.

From depression and anxiety to hypertension and psychiatric disorders, there is no doubting just how valuable and important a good night’s rest really is. Aside from those mentioned, constant deprivation can also give rise to heart attacks and strokes, diabetes, decreased brain function, memory loss, and lower fertility rates.

There have been numerous studies of this type of deprivation over the years, both on humans and animals. The results of which are relatively disturbing. One animal study found that animals’ deprived entirely of this, lose all immune function and die in just a matter of weeks!’.

The importance of a body shutdown is bolstered by other findings, which indicate that ‘many of the major restorative functions in the body like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release occur mostly, or is some cases only, during this period’.

While sleeplessness can have a devastating effect on adults, it can have such an effect on children as it has been shown to disrupt the development of a child’s brain.

Just looking at the array of problems will give you a clear indication of just how vitally important having a steady rest pattern is.

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One of the contributing factors to your sleep cycle’s healthiness, aside from exercise and diet, is having a good mattress. We spend more time not being awake more than eating or exercising. About one-third of our lives. It makes sense then that we want to sleep on the most suitably comfortable place around.

Shopping online gives you easy access to a wide range of mattresses to suit your needs, so it pays to look around. MattressTime, a leading internet retailer, offers a wide range of products and next day delivery for people with urgent requirements. A great range of choices will also mean you stand a better chance of getting the right one for you.

Your bed needs to be comfortable and supportive to allow your body to relax so you can peacefully drift off into slumber. As we have seen, while we do not completely understand why we need 40 winks, we know that it is vitally important to our health and well-being.

As it isn’t just the quantity of rest that is important, but the quality also, investing in a good mattress is seen as a wise move.

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