We all know sleep is important. We hear it from our doctors, neighbors, parents and friends. “Make sure you get enough sleep!”, “How did you sleep?”, “Just rest it off.”, “Rest well!”. Which begs the question, what is the importance of sleep? Why is it something we need to do every single night and for hours and hours on end? We are here to answer these questions and many more along the way. Follow along to find out why sleep is so important.
Why Do We Need Sleep?
With our consciousness at rest during sleep, it is easy to believe that nothing much happens while we sleep. That it is simply time to rest and nothing more. However, your brain and body are busy working for you.
Time to Recover
When you exercise, you need recovery time in order for those muscle to grow and heal. Essentially when you are building new muscle those fibers are being broken apart before they build back bigger and stronger. Which is why recovery time is so vital. When you sleep, the healing process is accelerated.
Rest is also highly important for injury recovery as well. Your body is very busy building and recovering during sleep. You heal much faster when you are sleeping. This is also true when you are fighting an illness…
Ever wonder if working out really helps you sleep better? Check out our post all about it to find out! Exercise and Sleep: Is Exercise Good For Sleep?
Active Immune System
When it comes to staying healthy, getting enough sleep each night is vital. This is because your immune system as very busy while we sleep. Fighting off colds, bacteria, viruses, and even cancerous cell growth. This is all dependent on a healthy immune system that is supported with getting enough REM sleep each night.
When you are sleep deprived your immune system begins to suffer consequences immediately. If you are wanting to avoid getting sick, or get better, then sleep is your best friend. When it comes to the importance of sleep, a healthy immune system ranks pretty high on that list.
Learn more about how sleep supports a healthy immune system in our post: Sleep and Your Immune System
Storing Memory & Reviewing New Information:
Not only does your mind move information into long term memory during sleep. It also works on learning. Let’s use playing the piano as an example. Perhaps you are learning a new song and you keep getting stuck on one section of the music. As you sleep your brain goes over the new information at super speed over and over. It goes over the same patterns that you did while you were awake and even focuses in on trouble areas, trying to smooth those hitches.
This often leads to coming in the next day and being able to work through those trouble areas with less difficulty. Essentially your brain is training and learning as you sleep.
Do you have a hard time staying awake at work? Check out our post: How To Stay Awake At Work All Day
Your beauty is more than skin deep, and so are the affects of good sleep. However, when you are prevented from getting the sleep your need your health suffers, and it shows on your face. When you don’t get enough sleep through the night, there are ramifications to your health that can show up almost immediately on your face. Our beauty standards are often based off of good health, when you are not getting great sleep, we translate the visual affects as unhealthy and therefore not as visually appealing.
These ramifications can include, discoloration in the skin, inflammation, puffy eyes, red eyes, dark circles, deepened wrinkles, dry or rough looking skin. All of which can take affect within a single night without sleep. The great news is that staying hydrated and getting a great night’s sleep can reverse most of these affects. However, if you spend a lot of time sleep deprived these issues can have a more lasting effect.
Get our top beauty sleep tips in our post: 15 Tips For True Beauty Sleep
What Happens If You Don’t Sleep?
Sleep deprivation can very from general sense of being tired and grouchy, to being dangerous for your health and wellbeing. The less sleep you have over an extended period of time, the risks of sleep deprivation increase drastically.
One of the first things to go wrong when you don’t sleep is that your cognitive functions begin to slow. Your reaction time and ability to focus or be productive flies out the window. Meanwhile without going through a REM cycle, your body struggles to shutdown abnormal cell growth which can lead to cancer cells growing and multiplying. Your ability to fight off illnesses also struggles.
Without REM sleep over an extended period of time, your mind will attempt to go into a REM like state of mind. Causing you to essentially hallucinate, you are dreaming while still conscious. Eventually your heart will give out if you are unable to give your body the sleep it desperately needs.
Learn more about insomnia along with our tips on how to get better sleep in our Guide To Insomnia
Why Do We Dream?
The answer to the question “why do we dream?” is still hotly debated. While some believe it is simply randomly firing synapsis in the brain, some believe it is the key to our inner most desires and fears being played out.
Meanwhile, others believe dreams are merely a biproduct of some other vital function. Dreams are still a part of the human experience that has yet to have a tangible explanation that is commonly agreed upon.
Learn more about how to control your dreams in our post: A Guide To Lucid Dreaming
Do All Living Things Need Sleep?
When you look beyond humankind, there are all kinds of other living things that need sleep. Mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, even some fish and some insects need sleep. There are even some more simple forms of life like nematodes that sleep as well.
Many living things need sleep like we do. Although, there are some living things that do not need the same sleep and wake patterns that humans do. Some animals are nocturnal and sleep during the day, while they reserve the majority of their waking hours at night. While there are some living organisms that don’t sleep in the same way we do, it does seem like there are periods of rest in nearly all lifeforms.
If you need help getting your sleep schedule back on track, you may like our post How To Fix Your Sleep Schedule.
What Happens During Sleep?
NREM Stage 1 –
The first stage of sleep, it occurs right when you begin to nod off. Typically, you are very easily brought back to wakefulness from this stage of sleep. It is very short stage and usually only lasts around 5-10 minutes before slipping into the next stage of sleep.
NREM Stage 2 –
At this stage, you are really beginning to sleep. Your body temperature begins to lower, and you heartrate slows down, and your breathing gets deeper. This is when your brain starts to go through sleep spindles. The more sleep spindles your brain goes through, the better your sleep quality is.
NREM Stage 3 –
Despite popular belief, this is actually the deepest level of sleep. In NREM Stage 3 your muscles are very relaxed, your blood pressure and heartrate get even lower. This is normally when snoring will be at it’s worse due to all the super relaxed muscles and deep sleep. Normally this lasts around 35-45 minutes.
The notorious REM Sleep that we all need. This is when you do most of your dreaming. REM is short for Rapid Eye Movement which refers to the quick and erratic eye movement that occurs during this part of your sleep cycle.
However, this is so much more that occurs during your REM cycle. This is where most of the immune system benefits, recovery, and so on happens. It is when you miss out on REM Sleep that your body truly suffers most.
Ever wondered if your sleep cycle works differently than other people? Then you may be interested in our post all about the different types of circadian rhythms. Click the link to learn more. Chronotypes: Your Circadian Typology
How Much Sleep Do We Need?
This is a great question! While we can survive off of very little sleep per night, it is not very good for your health and wellbeing. In order to stay at tip top shape, it is recommended that you get at least 6 – 8 hours of sleep every night.
Naps can be great supplements if you cannot get that much sleep during one sleep session. Even getting only 5 hours of sleep can take a negative toll on your mind and body.
The Importance of Sleep – Final Thoughts:
Taking in all of the many reasons why sleep is so vital can be staggering. In order to function properly and survive, we really do need our sleep. It is much more than a luxurious rest. There are processes that our brain and body go through when we sleep that are mandatory in order for us to continue a long and healthy life.
Without sleep our bodies and minds begin to breakdown. We need all of the maintenance work that gets done as we sleep so that we can perform at our best the next day. Here at Our Sleep Guide, we think a lot about getting great sleep. We hope this post enlightened you to the importance of sleep.
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