Why Do We Need to Sleep - Why Sleep is Important

Although the exact reasons why we need to sleep are not fully understood, research indicates that folks are able to live much longer without food than they can without sleep. Along with human beings, every mammal, reptile and bird needs sleep as well. Whilst the precise reasons why sleep is important continue to be a mystery, it is known that while sleeping most of the body's major organ and regulatory systems continue to actively function. In fact, certain parts of the brain increase their activity significantly and your body produces more of particular hormones. Nobody understands the reason why we sleep although various scientific theories have been put forward. Several experts have suggested that we might sleep due to sheer habit, without any biological basis.

Effect of Sleep on the Brain

Sleep could be a period for the brain to recharge. While asleep, the brain shuts down and repairs neurons and exercises synapses that could gradually break down and weaken with insufficient activity. This might be a period for fine tuning the synaptic connections which get stronger, weaken, break and change. The theory is that sleep is a chance to change those synaptic connections back to their original design after becoming muddled up through the day.

Sleep offers the brain an opportunity to reorganize information, to find solutions to problems, to process fresh information and also to organize and archive memories. The brain reinforces memory and categorizes everything learned into a certain order, and removes the useless, impertinent information.

When humans sleep, the brain has the ability to filter events which do and do not affect long term memory. Glycogen levels in the brain are replenished while asleep. Sleep is essential for survival in mammals. For instance, rats will die after about fourteen days with no sleep. Following substantial weight loss, they will be unable to regulate their body temperature and will develop infections. In humans, insufficient sleep results in impaired memory and reduced mental abilities, moodiness, and hallucinations.

Effect of Sleep on the Body

Sleep might also be a period of rest for the heart and lungs. Folks with normal or elevated blood pressure have a 20-30% decrease in pressure along with a 10-20% heart rate reduction.

Sleep offers the body an opportunity to replace chemicals and repair muscles, various other tissues and aging or dead cells. This may also have an impact on strengthening the immune system.

In children and young adults, growth hormones are released while asleep. Circadian rhythm or a day-night cycle of about twenty four hours has a big effect on the timing, quantity and quality of sleep. A well balanced circadian rhythm results in better sleep. Adult humans need seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

Sleep and Energy Metabolism

While sleeping, metabolic processes decrease as does energy consumption.

Sleep experts have theorized that sleep might restore certain chemicals that are depleted during periods of wakefulness. Researchers have isolated chemical compounds which change while asleep, such as adenosine, which has an effect on metabolic process and fatigue. Nevertheless, nobody has actually pinned down a conclusive chemical explanation for sleep.

Several experts have theorized that sleeping might be an evolutionary instrument to conserve energy while some others suggest sleep offers the brain a chance to process experiences or perhaps to exercise neurological pathways which have lain dormant throughout the day.

Sleep has a therapeutic benefit in that it offers the body and mind the opportunity to revitalize, reenergize, and restore. We all organize long term memory, integrate fresh knowledge, and repair and restore tissue, nerve cells along with other chemical compounds. Furthermore, sleep is of an adaptive nature. As primitive human beings and mammals, it was and is much easier to find food in the daytime and, for mammals, to hide during the night. Furthermore, sleep is a matter of energy preservation. Whilst sleeping, human beings are conserving energy when it would be unlikely to find food if we stayed awake.

Our sleep habits are also controlled by way of a hormonal body clock. Melatonin within the body increases during evening hours helping to make us drowsy. Morning brings a decrease in melatonin concentration. Likewise, daylight helps us to stay awake. When our eyes get strong light waves, the melatonin production is reduced by way of links with our visual system.

The quantity and quality of sleep we have is directly linked to the quantity and quality of our productivity.

Insufficient sleep can result in -

  • Drops in Performance
  • Lack of Concentration
  • Reduced Reaction Times
  • Problems in Grouping Learned Information
  • Lapses in Memory
  • Accidents and Injuries
  • Behavioral Problems and Mood Swings