Sometimes after a long and hard day at work, all we crave is to get home, climb into our beds and sleep. With that in mind, you’ll be pleased to know that sleep is incredibly important for us to allow our bodies to relax and replenish., as well as helping us to avoid potentially serious health implications.
During the process of sleeping, many important mental and physical processes take place in our bodies. It helps to improve brain functionality, emotional wellbeing, and helps to aid muscle recovery & physical health.
Research has previously suggested that around 7-8 hours sleep is vital to allow our body and mind to fully recover and be completely functional the next day.
So what happens when we sleep?
Sleep allows our bodies to rest, this includes the conservation of energy, as well as decreasing blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate and breathing. Our brain remains active, logging memory and restoring your day to day mental functionality and helps to carry out the different processes needed to grow physically.
When we sleep, there are five stages:
• Stage 1, Light Sleep: This is where we transition between sleeping and waking. We are easily roused, and our eyes begin to move slowly.
• Stage 2, Eye Movement Stops: During stage 2 our eye movement ceases and we begin to enter into a light dream state.
• Stage 3, Deep Sleep: This is where our bodies enter a far deeper sleep and we are far harder to wake from our slumber. Our body temperature also rapidly reduces.
• Stage 4, Deep Sleep: Our body temperature reduces further, and our brain’s use of energy begins to decrease. If you’re a sleepwalker, this is the stage when this phenomenon occurs.
• Stage 5, Rapid Eye Movement (REM): During this stage our eyes begin to move rapidly, this is the state when most dreams occur. Our heart rate and blood pressure increases and our limb muscles become paralyzed.
So, how much sleep is enough?
The answer to this question varies depending on your age, but it can also vary from person to person. As you grow older, sleep becomes less important. For teenagers (ages 13-18) around 8-10 hours is important, however from the ages of 18+ you only require around 7-8 hours a night.
Foe infants and children, it’s important during their cognitive and behavioral learning stages they acquire as much sleep as possible to allow their brains to hold the memory, learn and grow. For infants between the ages of 4-12 months they will need (including naps) around 12-16 hours of sleep a day. As they grow older the amount of sleep needed decreases.
What happens if we don’t get enough sleep?
A lack of sleep is incredibly dangerous, and this is called sleep debt. So, as an example, if you lost an hour of sleep a night, you’d have a total sleep debt of around 7 hours after a week.
This can, surprisingly, cause you harm and over time could cause serious chronic health issues. A lack of sleep can lead to several different health issues, from the following:
• Excessive tiredness in the daytime
• Headaches and difficult focusing
• Poor memory logging
• Mental health issues (anxiety/depression)
• Chronic health issues
• Making mistakes at work
Those are just a handful of the issues that sleep deprivation can cause. With that in mind, you can see just how important it is to ensure you have a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. So, grab your duvets, and truly enjoy your sleep!