Sleep deficiency is one of the biggest obstacles facing our society. As a product of urbanization, people now sleep one or two hours less than the way people slept over 30 years ago.
Many citizens, or even any of you, are deprived of sleep. It has also been found, sadly, that teenagers sleep one to one-and-a-half hours less.
Why is it so important to get enough sleep?
Some people may believe that sleep is voluntary like it's just an extracurricular activity or a leisure time that a person may choose to do or not do. As a result, many people today sleep just when they feel like doing so, or only when they're convenient after they've nearly exhausted the whole 24 hours of their day.
Our body is beautifully made because it has a constant rhythm that acts as a clock, much like the regular beat of our hearts. The brain secretes melatonin, an antioxidant that helps to reverse the damage caused by stress and aging. It is also a normal sleep-inducer that increases sleep efficiency. Normally, melatonin is secreted at about 9 p.m. And the peaks are from midnight to 3 a.m. And then it steadily declines to around 7 a.m. Around the same time, a person's wakefulness hours tend to drop from 10 p.m. It's moving on, and it's going up again at around 6 a.m.
This sleep-wakefulness cycle is essential such that body functions including bowel movement, alertness, hormonal secretion, balance, and several other things can work as planned. This means that the safest time to sleep is between 9 and 10 p.m. So that the melatonin release is optimized and the normal physiological sleep cycle is followed.
An individual who usually sleeps late deprives his or her body of a natural period of rejuvenation. The result is still the same, even though the person makes up for it by oversleeping. And what's worse if he or she doesn't make up for the missed hours?
Not enough sleep (less than 6 hours) has also been linked with a higher rate of elevated blood pressure, heart disease, coronary complications associated with glucose and insulin sensitivity, colorectal adenoma, and thyroid dysfunction. It can also affect appetite (increased), mood, and vigilance.
Studies have found that shorter sleep is correlated with reduced brain volumes, faster shrinkage, and faster reductions in cognition or thought processes.
How long then does a person sleep to make the most of the benefits?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, young adults (18-25 y / o) need to sleep for 7-9 hours. Sleep criteria for other age ranges are as follows:
preschoolers (3-5 y / o), 10-13 hours; school-aged children (6-13 y / o), 9-11 hours; teenagers (14-17 y / o), 8-10 hours; adults (26-64 y / o), 7-9 hours; and older adults, 7-8 hours of sleep.
Sleep is very important for rational thinking, learning, overall health and satisfaction, physical fitness, and safety. Sleep is not a choice but a critical part of natural body function, much as feeding, drinking, or breathing.