Sleep is the single most important behavioral experience we have. But the perception and role of sleep in our society has shifted from importance to a waste of precious time. Shakespeare referred to sleep as “nature’s soft nurse”, but Edison thought it was a “heritage from our cave days.” People often feel similarly to the latter.This is because they don’t understand the purpose of sleep.
Reality is that our brain doesn’t shut down during sleep. The most popular theory for why we sleep is that sleep controls our brain function. Sleep deprivation is the cause of poor memory, and poor creativity. But that’s not even the worst part. Sleep is strongly connected to serious health problems like cardiovascular disease and mental illnesses. Sleep deprivation can cause a 50% higher rate of obesity, brought about by excess release of the hormone, ghrelin, which triggers your hunger. Sustained stress, another result of sleep deprivation, suppresses your immune system.
There are genetic ties between sleep disruption and schizophrenia. It was discovered that stabilizing sleep also helps reduce symptoms of paranoia.
3 conclusions from all the different examples and study’s citations on sleep significance
- Lack of sleep can cause mental illness.
- Sleep disruption is an early warning signal for illnesses
- Sleep centers are a new therapeutic target for solving other problems
The question you might be wondering now is, how do I know if I’m getting enough sleep?
If you need an alarm clock to wake up, are grumpy and irritable, or need a cup of coffee to do anything: you probably lack enough sleep. The key is to listen to your body. You might need 6 hours of sleep or you might need 10 hours. There is actually no correlation between waking up early and having better health (or more wealth). To get a good nights sleep, make sure that you’re room is as dark as possible and slightly cool. Reducing light exposure/electronics use during the 30 minutes prior will also help.
tl:dr Take sleep seriously.