Why Is Sleep So Important?

August 28, 2019

Why Is Sleep So Important?

There are a few necessities in life. Though we might think of health insurance, formal education, and the internet as necessities, if we had to we probably could live without them. True necessities include food, water, air, clothing, shelter, and sleep - glorious sleep. Food provides us with nutrients. Water helps our bodily functions work properly. Air provides the necessary oxygen for our bodies to respirate and expel carbon dioxide. Clothing and shelter both shield our bodies against the environment and the weather. What is it that sleep does?

It turns out that even in 2019, there are many mysteries surrounding sleep. Professionals all agree that it is a necessity, but there is not as much agreement as to the reasons why. Studies were done on puppies in the 1890’s by Dr. Maria Manaceina, and then in the 1980’s further studies were done on rats at the University of Chicago. In both of these studies, the subjects died - seemingly from a lack of sleep. It might not have been directly a lack of sleep, but more the cumulative effects that not sleeping had on the minds and bodies of the subjects. Such consequences that could have contributed to their passing include hypothermia, suppressed immune systems, and drastically lowered body temperatures.

Instead of focusing on what happens when you do sleep, let’s take a look at what happens when you don’t sleep. As you become sleep deprived, you feel drowsy. The more sleep you lack, the more you will have problems remembering things. You will be quick-tempered, your judgment will be “off”, and your coordination will be impaired. After losing even more sleep, your metabolism and body temperature will become altered. Your speech will be affected as well - a sleep-deprived person will most likely slur just as a drunk person might. Then as you become more and more sleep-deprived, the more likely you are to experience hallucinations or have altered perceptions of reality. If you are severely sleep-deprived, as illustrated by the aforementioned sleep studies, hypothermia, a suppressed immune system, and an extremely lowered body temperature might be your fate.

I don’t know about you, but I surely do not want to experience any of these negative consequences due to lack of sleep. Every night, I will do what I can to get the recommended 7 to 8 hours of shut-eye. I won’t overstimulate myself with electronic devices before bedtime. I will watch what I eat and drink, especially later in the day, to make sure these foods and beverages won’t keep me awake or wake me up during the night. I will keep my bedroom at a cooler temperature, adorned with the most comfortable pillows and sheets available. If I find I have recurring problems sleeping, I will enlist the help of my doctor to find the best solutions for me. Maybe she will recommend adding a supplement or, if absolutely necessary, give me a prescription. I bet I could make some minor lifestyle changes to see some major impact. And then, like the Everly Brothers, “All I Have To Do Is Dream”.





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