Last updated on February 8, 2022

Overview of Sleep: How It Is in This Fast-Paced World

Sleep has always been a point of interest and research for humankind. A lot of research into the essence and the physiological reasons for sleep have revealed that it is invariably essential for the health and well-being of an individual.

As the human body needs food to eat and water to drink, natural sleep in the required amount is essential for the survival and sustenance of the human body.

Unfortunately, the daily grind of life and the fast-paced lifestyle of present times interrupt the sleep pattern. While we all understand the importance of sleep, the long hours at work, commuting from one corner of the city to the other daily, continuing work from home long after office hours on the laptop, and many more such actions invariably have disrupted sleep like never before.

The importance of sleep lies in the fact that sleep directly influences key brain functions like focus & attentiveness, reasoning & intelligence, and the overall efficiency of the individual. What all of this has caused is a common medical problem called sleep deprivation. Sleep-related disorders impact family and social life and also affect professional productivity.

Understanding Sleep

Studies About Sleeping Patterns

Several studies have been conducted to emphasize the importance of sleep. Researches have also been done to understand how lack of sleep at night can affect individuals’ mental and physical health. Some of the researches are being mentioned here:

effects sleep

Effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive empathy

The study involved studying the behavior of 37 normal adults divided into three groups of people, with the researchers trying to understand how sleep deprivation affects the emotional empathy of an individual.

One group was subjected to chronic sleep deprivation; the second group had normal sleep, and the third group was a day group. Results before and after displayed lowered abilities in the first group—concerning sensing another person’s emotions.

importance of sleep

Poor subjective sleep and risk of death by suicide

A study conducted by JAMA Psychiatry in 2015 revolved around understanding the relationship between poor quality subjective sleep over ten years and increased chances of death by suicide after ten years. Irrespective of the depressed mood
of the subject, lack of sleep at night or disturbed sleep increases the risks of death due to suicidal behaviors of an individual.

importance of sleep

Cognitive importance of sleep in children

A study conducted on 110 school children attending elementary school in the age group of 8 to 11 years showed that good quality sleep brings in positive affective well-being in the child’s behavior the next day.

importance of sleep

Importance of sleep for students

A study was conducted in the University of Ghana in 2014-15 covering medical students. A self-report questionnaire called the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index was used to understand the students’ sleep quality. The study showed that their poor sleep quality resulted in daytime dysfunction and academic performance among medical students in Ghana.

What is Sleep Deprivation?

The CDC or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that adults between 18 and 60 years need to sleep for a minimum of seven hours every night. People with less than seven hours of sleep a day are typically believed to suffer from sleep
deprivation.

The premier American Center also has reasons to believe that every one out of three adults suffers from lack of sleep at night, especially sound and quality sleep. The CDC has also given recommendations for other age groups. For example, infants between 4 and 12 months need at least 12 to 16 hours of a nap. However, kids between 6 and 12 years need to sleep for a minimum of 9 and 12 hours.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Poor quality sleep leaves a long-lasting impact on the human body, as you can see below:

effect on brain

Effect on the brain

Research points that low-quality sleep impacts the prefrontal cortex. It is that part of the brain that handles logical reasoning and emotions. Lack of sound sleep can interrupt the learning and reasoning powers of a person.

lowered immunity

Lowered immunity due to sleep deprivation

Studies also reveal that chronic sleep deprivation results in individuals being prone to catch infections like the common cold, flu, etc., easily.

impact on physical

Impact on physical health

Sleep deprivation can impact hormone levels, especially those that impact hunger pangs. Adding to that, lack of sleep leads to increased weight, increased release of hormones like norepinephrine and cortisol—which are hormones that deal with
stress—and leads to lower sexual drive because of the effects on fertility-related hormones.

Persistent headaches from the lack of sleep are also a common issue with people suffering from sleep deprivation.

accident

Accident-prone

Chronic sleep deprivation impacts the concentration and focus levels in an individual. As a result, it can prove risky for drivers as their decision-making powers or critical thinking skills may get impacted to cause accidents.

The importance of sleep is not just limited to short-term problems. Sleep-related disorders over a long-term basis can cause medical issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, sleep apnea, depression, and other physiological problems.

Statistics on Sleep Deprivation

The Statistics on sleep deprivation reveal the following:

adult from 18

Adults from 18 years to 64 years need to sleep between seven and nine hours every night.

working professional

About 8.4% of working professionals were sleeping less than six hours in 2008-09. In 2017-18, it increased to 32.6%.

single parent

Single parents are more likely to sleep for less than seven hours daily. Figures show 42.6% of single parents are likely to sleep less than seven hours while 32.7% of adults in a both-parent home sleep for less than seven hours.

importance of sleep

Factory and plant workers are likely to suffer from sleep deprivation. Almost 44% of workers in production-based industries sleep less than seven hours.

young kids

Approximately 25% of young kids are likely to have sleep-related disorders and, as a result, suffer from daytime sleepiness.

middle school

Approximately 72.7% of high schoolers and 57.8% of middle schoolers tend to sleep less than the recommended hours every night.

insomia

Between 30% and 48% of aged adults are likely to suffer from insomnia.

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The Importance of Sleep -
Why Is It Important?

Now that we have a good understanding of sleep patterns and cycle, let’s pivot to why it’s important. Knowing the gravity of sleep will help you understand your body’s needs both physical and mental. Therefore, you will tend to stick to the good habits to fall asleep quickly and for long.

What are the Importance of Sleep?

Sleep helps you maintain a proper physical and mental health. It helps you avoid heart diseases, blood pressure fluctuation, and other chronic issues. Plus, sleep also helps you have a calm and calculative mind that enables you to see things clearly.

Good sleep has importance. Sound sleep is very important for the mental and physical health of an individual. It is not a matter to be taken lightly. Years of studies and research have proven beyond any doubt the benefits of good sleep for people of all ages. So, why is sleep important? The reasons are as follows:

  • Enhances concentration: Sound sleep helps enhance concentration and, therefore, directly impacts the productivity of individuals. In the case study of medical students in Ghana, the importance of sleep for students was proved abundantly.
  • Improves performance: Sportspersons and athletes need to sleep well for better performance. And so do corporate workers and students. A restful sleep helps you better your performance in things you put your mind to.
  • Proper functioning of the body: The main importance of sleep is that it helps keep the body fit and healthy. Good-quality sleep helps strengthen the immunity system of the body.
  • Strengthens the brain: Another amazing benefit of good sleep is that it strengthens the brain, especially the part that concerns learning and memory. As a result, people can focus on their work.
  • Allows better processing of emotions: Sleep helps process a person’s emotions so that they can react positively and emotionally better. One of the concerning effects of sleep deprivation is that the brain cannot process emotions giving rise to negative emotions, mood disorders, depression, nocturnal panic attacks, and anxiety.
  • Makes the heart stronger: Another importance of sleep is that it strengthens the heart. During sleep, the body rests, and therefore, the blood pressure of the body is lowered. The glucose levels also drop when the body is asleep. During this time, the heart and the blood vessels relax. This relaxed state helps strengthen the body’s cardiovascular system, and the person is less likely to develop fatal diseases like Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Fights weight gain/obesity: Another negative effect of sleep deprivation is that it creates havoc with leptin and ghrelin – hormones that control appetite or hunger. Hence, when the person sleeps soundly, the mind is well-rested. As a result, the hormones are in control, helping keep the individual’s weight under check.

The Sleep Cycle – Explained

The sleep cycle can be explained through various stages. Typically, five phases of sleep are covered under two distinct stages called Rapid-Eye-Movement or REM and non-rapid eye movement called NREM. The five phases of sleep are – Wake, N1, N2, N3, and R. N1, N2, and N3 are NREM stages where each stage progresses into a deeper sleep. Most of human sleep is spent in the N2 stage.

What is the Importance of Each Stage of Sleep?

You never jump to deep sleep and call it a night. There is a scientific process that puts you into different sleep stages before hitting the REM button! The first sleep stage is the wake. The second, third, and fourth sleep stage being N1, N2, N3, N4. And finally, the REM. However, the different stages describe different core aspects. They are as follows for your deeper understanding:

Wake

This is also called stage W and can be with eyes open or closed. When the eyes are open, the beta waves are predominant, while as the eyelids droop with increased drowsiness, the alpha waves take over. An individual is said to be in the W stage when more than 50% are alpha waves.

N1

In this stage, half or more of the alpha waves are converted to LAMF or low-amplitude mixed-frequency. The stage lasts between 1 and 5 minutes.

N2

In this stage, the predominant waves are sleep spindles and K-complexes. The body is in a deep sleep by now with decreased heart rate and lowers body temperature.
It lasts for about 25 minutes the first time, and with each cycle, the duration of N2 increases.

N3

This stage has predominantly delta waves taking over. The body is much more relaxed as it is in the deepest slumber. In most cases, when people are in this stage, they are not awakened even by loud noises.
Here is where the body cells repair and re-grow, the immune system is strengthened, and bones and muscles are built.
When people wake up in this state, they can have some issues with mental performance for about half an hour or so, which is also called sleep inertia.

REM

During this state, people dream though tests reveal that the person is in the awakened state. The first time lasts for about ten minutes and gets longer with passing the time. The state starts 90 minutes after the person falls asleep.

What are the Benefits of A Full-Cycle of Sleep?

Regular restful sleep not only keeps your body functions healthy and make your more active during the day, but also make you appear confident, productive, and younger. However, these are not enough. There is a myriad of benefits of good sleep and full-cycle sleep that you can experience. They underline the importance of sleep and are listed below:

  • So, why is sleep important? especially the full cycle. A sound sleep session translates into an enhanced mood because the body is rested, helping boost your energy levels.
  • The full cycle of sleep boosts the immune system, and as recorded by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, sound sleep can make a dose of vaccine more effective.
  • The full cycle of sleep helps individuals keep fit and healthy, slim and trim too.
  • Full cycle sleep helps strengthen the heart and improves performance productivity too.
  • When the body sleeps through all the cycles, the brain gets enough time to process and consolidate all memories of the previous day. It helps in enhancing the memorization powers of the brain. Hence, the importance of sleep for students is emphasized time and again by parents and teachers.

What Happens When You Don’t Sleep the Full Rem Cycle?

The Dos & Don’ts of REM sleep are important because it is in this stage that the learnings from the day’s events are reinforced and memorized by the brain. For example, athletes’ brains go over the technical skills learned during the day and retain the same during REM. Thus, the importance of sleep cannot be undermined in the case of athletes and sportspersons.

Thus, when individuals do not get REM sleep, their ability to learn new things is hampered. Also, most of the REM sleep happens towards the early morning or the end of the sleep cycle. Thus, if the REM phase of sleep does not happen, a condition of sleep deprivation occurs. Headaches from the lack of sleep are quite often noticed in such individuals. That is why sleep is important—the full cycle of sleep!

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Why You Need
to Monitor Your
Sleeping Patterns

Monitoring sleeping patterns help understand the sleep duration, sleep quality, and sleep phases of an individual. Sometimes, tracking sleep helps understand if changes are made to environmental factors like the temperature or light in the bedroom and lifestyle factors. Now, monitoring sleeping patterns starts with understanding the importance of sleep, how it can affect the person’s health, and how it can be tweaked to improve sleep quality. Also, sleep and weight loss are closely associated. Sometimes, it’s also the bedding you need to change. You can find more about choosing a mattress for back pain and take one step to betterment.

Understanding Sleeping Patterns

The typical sleeping pattern consists of alternate cycles of NREM and REM. The first cycle of NREM and REM is about 70 to 100 minutes; the second cycle averages about 90 to 120 minutes. Corresponding cycles also average about 90 to 120 minutes. There are various reasons for disturbed sleep. Sleep patterns change–the internal clock of the individual, age, wakefulness, environmental factors like temperature and light, noise and stress, and more.

In present times, sleep patterns can be understood using digital devices and apps. There are wearable devices, both commercial and medical-grade. Some apps can be downloaded on laptops, computers, or smartphones to monitor sleep patterns. Also, learning which side is best to sleep seems small but is very effective in restoring your peace with sleep.

Sleeping Disorders: What Are They?

When an individual faces issues with their normal sleep patterns, they are said to have sleeping disorders. Sleep disorders are associated with the time of sleep, quality, and amount of sleep with various reasons for lack of sleep. Anxiety at night, stress, hectic lifestyles, and other external factors affect the sleeping patterns at night.

What are the Types of Sleeping Disorders?

If you don’t really bother to get a good night’s sleep and stick to your nightly binge-watch routine, it will soon take a toll on your health. Chronic diseases tend to linger due to sleeping disorders eventually leaving negative imprints on your mental health as well. However, here are the different types of sleeping disorders that you should be aware of right now:

Insomnia

It is a sleep disorder where the person cannot fall asleep or remain asleep. Insomnia is caused by stress, anxiety, health problems, jet lag, medicines, etc. These people are light sleepers. Prolonged insomnia can make the person depressed and irritable. It can also cause weight loss, lack of focus, inability to concentrate on work, etc.

Sleep Apnea

A condition in which the body breathes in less oxygen during sleep. It causes paused breathing, often waking up the person in between.

Parasomnias

It is a state where the person indulges in abnormal movements during sleep. It includes behaviors like sleepwalking, sleep talking, nightmares, groaning, bedwetting, and teeth-grinding.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

This is where the individual feels an urgent need to move their legs. A tingling sensation in the legs accompanies the condition.

Narcolepsy

This is a condition where a person falls asleep all of a sudden without warning. Often such conditions result in sleep paralysis right after waking up.

Importance of Diagnosing and Treating Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders can directly convert into stress during daytime and functioning impairment. Light sleepers experience fatigue, irritability, and decreased libido. Reasons for disturbed sleep can be many, but it can aggravate anxiety, depression, stress, mood disorders, and decision-making skills if it exists on a prolonged basis. Besides, sleep disorders can affect physical health, too, of which headaches from a lack of sleep are a common phenomenon.

It is important to treat sleep disorders because of the importance of sleep for our physical and mental health. It is essential to find effective medicinal and natural sleep remedies to address how to sleep better with anxiety and the stress of daily life.

Day-to-day Disruptors
of Sleep and How
to Manage Them

There are innumerable reasons for lack of sleep. They come in the form of day-to-day sleep disruptors. Some of the common disruptors or reasons for disturbed sleep are as follows:

stress

Stress

anxiety

Anxiety

daylight

Daylight exposure

life style

Lifestyle choices

alcohol

Alcohol consumption

caffeine

Caffeine consumption

electronic

Use of electronic devices before sleep

toddlers

Parents of infants and toddlers

drugs

Prescription drugs

lights

Excessive lights in the bedroom

temperature

Unpleasant temperatures

snore

Snoring of the partner

restless

Restless Leg Syndrome and other medical conditions

How Can Anxiety Cause Sleeping Problems?

Can anxiety cause issues? Considering the importance of sleep, individuals must recognize the sleep disruptors and manage them effectively. Anxiety and sleeplessness are closely connected.

When things do not work the way they want, it is natural that the individual spends ruminating about the same during bedtime. As a result, they may have difficulty falling asleep. Worry has been identified as one of the key factors behind insomnia. Patients with anxiety disorders are more likely to have sleep-related disorders during stressful times.

Similarly, people with OCD or PTSD also show signs of insomnia and sleeplessness. In some people, anxiety about falling asleep also leads to sleep disorders. Light sleepers with anxiety at night can wake up in the middle of the night too.

How to Manage Anxiety at Night?

Waking up in the middle of the night is a common case study for doctors. Especially in this time where stress, anxiety are going wild within people. However it can happen due to many reasons like insomnia, stress, over-the-counter sleep medicines, etc. Now, the question is how to sleep better at night with anxiety? Here are a few things you can do to avoid getting up at night and sleep better with anxiety at night:

  • Write down what’s on your mind: When you wake up due to anxiety at night, take out the notebook and a pen. Jot down what your mind is overthinking about, the thought may not have any structure which is the way it is. But research has shown that writing things down relieves your mind of the chaos significantly.
  • Don’t use tech before sleep: Try minimizing any tech or device use in the room at least one hour before going to bed. It prepares your body to understand what time it is slowly drifting you to sleep. Or else, it will either keep you up or give you anxiety the moment you open your eyes in the morning.
  • Stick to a healthy and timely routine: Wake up around the same time in the morning. Don’t skip your breakfast. Also, eating at a particular time everyday helps your circadian rhythms to regulate. Try exercising everyday at least for 15 minutes. This helps reduce cortisol levels that otherwise triggers stress.
  • Try to maintain a strict bedtime: When you shut down your phones before going to bed and prepare yourself for the same, your body understands the routine. Gradually, your body gets into the habit and you tend to fall asleep around the same time without even trying.
  • Listen to soothing sounds/music: Such sounds tend to calm your autonomic nervous system. And this leads to lowering your blood pressure, reducing your heart rate, and slowing your breath. Therefore, you tend to feel calm and tired craving for the bed to rest.
  • Seek medical help: Consult your doctor to identify underlying conditions like heart disease, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and more. The doctor will study your case and suggest medicines and psychotherapy. Doctors also recommend reading a good book before bed. You can choose the best books to read for beginners and drift away to sleep as quickly as possible.
  • Go for natural sleep remedies: There are natural sleep remedies where supplements derived from herbs and plants are advised. For example, melatonin, chamomile, or valerian. The best is to speak to a specialist for professional advice.
  • Meditation: Yoga and meditation have been there for ages. And their effectiveness is still seen. Also, meditation is known to calm you down and help you control your mind and body better. That’s why people suffering from anxiety disorders can try guided meditation for sleep too.

Small Behaviors That Disrupt Your Sleep Hygiene

Besides going to the doctor or seeking professional help, there are small things that one can do to improve their sleep hygiene. It is in the best interest of an individual to understand the importance of sleep and optimize their sleep pattern accordingly.

Here are some reasons why your sleep may be getting disrupted:

importance of sleep

Using devices before going to sleep

uncomfortable

Uncomfortable bedding

night cofee

Consuming caffeine or alcohol before sleep

night work

Prioritizing work or socializing over sleep

naps

Taking quick naps throughout the day

bright light

Being exposed to bright lights before sleep

unpleasent bedroom

Unpleasant ambiance in the bedroom

changing bed

Not changing the bed regularly

smoking

Smoking regularly

late dinner

Late dinners

What are some Home Remedies to Improve Sleep?

If you can’t sleep at night, try out some simple things at home to fight it. For example, set a fixed sleep time, exercise and exhaust, meditate and be mindful, etc. Let’s explain them to you clearly. Considering the importance of sleep, you can try these home remedies to improve sleep and develop healthy sleeping habits.

  • Set a strict sleep schedule by fixing a wake-up time and sleep time and adhering to the same can do wonders. Also, prioritizing sleep over other priority work is essential too. It is important to fix the night routine and follow it with commitment.
  • Ensure your naps during the day are short and limited to about one every day otherwise it can result in polyphasic sleep cycles.
  • Listening to sleep meditation music is a great way to calm the mind.
  • Also, the room lights should be dimmed as bright light does not support producing the sleep hormones called melatonin.
  • It is a good decision to consciously distance yourself from digital devices and switch off the TV at least thirty minutes before sleep time.
  • Meditation and mindful breathing are relaxation techniques that help relax the mind.
  • People who find it difficult to get used to a sleep pattern should try listening to a guided meditation for sleep.

Besides all of this, following a healthy routine like exercising, reducing alcohol and caffeine consumption, stopping smoking, and dining on time helps streamline sleep hygiene.

What are the Exercises to Improve Sleep?

Yoga and meditation are techniques that help relax the mind and improve sleep. It is good to listen to sleep meditation music and follow guided meditation for sleep to help better sleep quality. Sleep meditation music also helps in reducing anxiety, stress
& nocturnal panic attacks. Some exercises for better sleep are:

  • The 4-7-8 breathing method counts to 4 when inhaling, holds the breath for seven counts, and exhales on the count of 8.
  • Bhramari Pranayam with the Om sound also helps improve sleep.
  • Shodhana Pranayama or alternate nostril breathing is another useful exercise.

The importance of sleep is beyond any doubt. There is enough supporting medical evidence to prove the same. But, not just scientific research, an individual’s sleep quality can be understood and analyzed by the person themselves to understand how well
they feel the next day.

To help improve sleep quality, Wakefit brings you the best pillows for sleeping and orthopedic memory foam mattresses resulting from years of in-house R&D and the desire
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Frequently Asked Questions on the Importance of Sleep

Sleep helps you become productive, active, and energetic. You tend to see an improvement in your performance, etc. You should allow your body to rest and fuel up. But it’s not just any kind of rest. You should be mindful of having a good night’s sleep. And a lot of things matter than just the sleep hours. So, here are the five importance of sleep that you should know:

  • Strengthens the immunity system of the body.
  • A healthy mind and a fit body.
  • Improves productivity and performance.
  • Sleep and weight loss are closely associated.
  • Sleep helps strengthen the cardiovascular system of the body.

Sleep is when the body relaxes, the heart slows down, the cells repair, and the brain processes crucial learnings from the day.

But all of this can be done only when the natural cycle of sleep is complete— this takes about seven to eight hours in the case of adults.

Eight hours of quality sleep is required for the overall well-being of the body and the mind. Adults over 65 years of age require a minimum of 8 hours of sleep.

They say, when you learn something complex and new, the best you can do to remember it is to sleep after it. Various studies show that proper sleep helps improve an individual’s procedural and declarative memory. Sleeping strengthens the learning and memories that you’ve experiences throughout the day.

You can also induce good restful sleep with some selected foods. These foods contain antioxidants and nutrients for example melatonin and magnesium. And they are known to enhance sleep by helping you fall asleep faster or stay asleep longer. Some foods for good sleep are as follows:

  • Warm milk
  • Chamomile tea
  • Almonds
  • Lettuce
  • Walnuts
  • Tart cherries
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Kava
  • Passionflower
  • Tea, and more

Meditation, yoga, simple relaxation and breathing techniques, listening to sleep meditation music, dimming the lights, switching off the TV and distancing oneself from digital devices, and using comfortable mattresses and pillows are some of the natural ways to fall asleep fast. Here are some more home remedies for sleep:

  • Breathe slowly and deeply,
  • Quit smoking, at least before bed,
  • Stick to one bedtime,
  • Eat your meals at the same time everyday,
  • Exercise for at least 10 minutes,
  • Meditate for at least 7-10 minutes,
  • Journal your thoughts.

To overcome sleep insomnia, you must pay your doctor a visit. This would help you identify chronic underlying reasons, if any. Now, you can practice the following routine everyday as a habit and overcome sleep insomnia:

  • Have a disciplined nighttime routine
  • Create the right setting in your bedroom to fall asleep
  • Avoid caffeine after noon, and limit alcohol several hours before bedtime
  • Avoid smoking
  • Stay active everyday
  • Limit your screen time before bed
  • Sleep on a mattress with ergonomic design

Believe it or not, the things you do before bed has a major impact on your sleep cycle. So, why not detoxify and turn to something that is clean? Take a look at some great bedtime routine that you can get into for proper sleep:

  • Practice meditation
  • Listen to music
  • Take a warm bath
  • Have tea before bed
  • Read a book
  • Light candles or incense sticks
  • Avoid screens

Although we are all wired differently and can be productive in different hours, early risers tend to have certain advantages than night owls. However, becoming a morning person requires discipline. While some people naturally are early risers, some need a stricter routine to do so. Research shows that early risers are happier and less prone to depression than night owls. They tend to get more work done during the day and feel more alert.

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