Don’t be dozy – 8 Reasons to get some sleep!
First the bad news. If you don’t get enough of it, you can end up
in a psychotic state. In less extreme circumstances, you will find
concentration difficult and have a shorter attention span; as sleep deprivation
continues, the part of the brain that controls language, memory, planning and your
sense of time begins to shut down.
The good news is that sleep is not only essential but also
restorative: it makes you feel better, and look better by banishing those ugly
circles under your eyes; it also helps you perform mental tasks more
effectively – remember to heed the advice to get a good night’s sleep before that
Moreover, it promotes wound healing, helps to keep your immune
system fighting fit and is the time when your body’s cells undertake a lot of
Although different people can get away with different amounts of
sleep in a night – inventor Thomas Edison famously claimed it was waste of time
– most people spend anywhere between five and 11 hours in their slumbers – with
the average being just under eight hours – or about a third of their lives.
During sleep, a process called ‘consolidation’ enables you to
‘practice’ physical and mental skills learned while you were awake. After
sleeping, you perform better.
Kids between the ages of 10 and 16 with interrupted sleep patterns
are more likely to have problems with attention and learning, a 2010 study in
the journal Sleep discovered.
Another study found that college students who didn’t get enough sleep achieved
worse grades than those who did.
Younger children, aged seven and eight, who got less than about
eight hours of sleep were more likely to be hyperactive, inattentive and
impulsive, according to a 2009 study in the journal Pediatrics.
During sleep, our brain appears to reorganise and restructure
memories in addition to reinforcing and consolidating them. This potentially
increases creativity. Research from Harvard University and Boston College found
that people may strengthen the emotional components of a memory during sleep.
Reflecting previous results amongst swimmers and tennis players, a
Stanford University study found that college football players who tried to
sleep at least ten hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their
average sprint time. They also had more stamina and less daytime fatigue.
Sleep also has an effect on diet and weight gain. Research from the
University of Chicago found that dieters felt hungrier when they got less
sleep. However, when well rested, dieters lost more fat – some 56% of their
weight loss – compared with those who were sleep deprived. The sleep-deprived
group lost more muscle mass although they shed similar amounts of total weight.
Sleep affects our cardio-vascular health by lowering our stress
levels and helping us control blood pressure. Sleep is also believed to affect
our cholesterol levels, another significant factor in heart disease.
Sleep helps reduce inflammation linked to heart disease, stroke,
diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging. Research indicates that people who
get less sleep – six or fewer hours a night – have higher levels of
inflammatory proteins in their blood.