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Sleep – Why Is It Critical?

Ask a first-time parent or a student preparing for exams staying up all night and they’ll tell you, literally, at the blink of an eye, why sleep is critical. Getting a good night’s sleep is important to restore and repair cell damage that happens in our body throughout the day. Sleep is also important to maintain cognitive health that assists in good memory and other functions. While it is often considered a luxury in some cultures or situations, (think overnight jobs, illnesses etc.), it’s important to try and get the minimum 7 hours of sleep per night, as recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). CDC further goes on to report 35% of adults do not get this sleep amount either.

Sleep deprivation draws a gore similarity to alcohol intoxication in many senses. If it’s a risk starting your day with alcohol, why then would you start your day sleep deprived? Both cause a memory fog, high levels of irritation, falling asleep unintentionally during the day posing a high risk, not to mention triggering an endless start of health issues. These include diabetes, high blood pressure, weight gain, memory loss, sleep disorders like insomnia, depression, anxiety and the likes.

The benefits of a good undisturbed night of sleep have benefits that outweigh sleep deprivation, nudging you to make it a priority. To understand this deeper, let’s take a look at the different phases of sleep. 

REM and Non REM sleep

Sleep is differentiated into Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non- REM. Both of which has a different and important impact on the body. During REM sleep, brain electrical activity is the same as that of a person awake. But as the non-REM sleep kicks in, brain waves slow down. Studies have shown that these increases, is the protein to the brain. The lack of these proteins is what causes fatigue and mental impairment. Go without sleep longer and the inherent lack of such proteins can lead to dementia.

Our body also releases a growth hormone during the Non- REM sleep, which encourages cognitive function, high energy levels and good memory. 

Brain cell research by scientists on sleeping rats has found that some of the cells that connected during the day strengthened itself in the night while rats sleep. Other links that were unimportant were discarded. From this, it is understood that our brain actively keeps important links while removing links they do not need. A clever and critical process called ‘plasticity’, it is mirrored in humans too. 

Improve sleep quality

Now that we know the impact of sleep on our physical and mental body, how does one improve sleep quality?

  • Maintain a consistent sleep routine so your body knows when to start unwinding 
  • Invest in a top quality mattress that supports restful sleep. Choose from well-known mattress experts like Wakefit, who give you options between Orthopaedic or Dual firmness levels on one bed to suit both partners.
  • Meditate and allow your body to relax into sleep naturally, controlling stress.
  • Set the room temperature to be cool 
  •  Turn off all artificial lights before going to bed. A completely dark room helps regulate the circadian clock. 
  • Ensure to eat an early dinner to avoid digestion and gastrointestinal problems that can keep you up all night

Mix these tips to enhance sleep quality whilst trying to maintain the recommended hours of sleep every night. A night of healthy sleep has physical, mental and emotional benefits that are innumerable and indispensable. Neglecting sleep or letting it play second fiddle has proven to impact overall health leading to fatal accidents and illnesses.