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The Importance of Sleep

Quinn Reinhardt

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Sleep is more than what we like to do for thirty minutes a night; it is characterized by a reduction of mental and physical capacity, and is crucial to our health and daily performance.


Dictated by our circadian rhythms, sleep is a fundamental part of the day, so it is very important that everyone knows the health consequences corresponding with the maintenance and consistency a sleep cycle.  Sleep is important to the functionality of our brains and bodies, so it is crucial that students get enough sleep.  During sleep, the mind and body repair themselves, and restore themselves to proper condition.


Both scientific and medical experts agree that the optimal sleep time for the average individual is eight hours.  This amount ensures that both REM sleep and non REM sleep are achieved.  REM, or rapid eye movement, is the deepest phase of sleep, in which the mind is most active.  This is important because memories and facts learned throughout the day are solidified and retained.  Also, it is in this phase of sleep that dreams occur.  The correct amount of non REM sleep guarantees a rested feeling in the morning, not a feeling of exhaustion, which many of us are unfortunately subject to.  The combination of REM and non REM sleep strengthen, improve, and stimulate the endocrine and immune systems.


It is sensible that an adequate amount of sleep corresponds with a rested mind and body, and the converse of that statement is also true.  A lack of sleep, or a sleep during which REM is not entered may be detrimental to health and performance.  Medical issues such as insomnia, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea are all related to quality of sleep.  If an individual consistently fails to enter REM, that individual would be more likely to develop one of the aforementioned sleep related health conditions than an individual who consistently maintains the entrance of REM sleep.  Those conditions are also detrimental to one’s physical and emotional well being, further proving the importance of consistent REM sleep.


An appropriate amount of sleep is crucial to proper brain function.  Brain function affects the ability to learn, create memories, form lasting relationships, solve problems, and maintain a healthy mental outlook.  Extended reduction of maximum potential brain function due to a lack of sleep can induce neurological related problems in the future.  Said problems may include reduced brain function, anxiety, depression, headaches and physical limitations.  These deficits may help to explain mood swings, trouble focusing, and impaired cognitive reactions to stimuli on days after receiving an insufficient amount of sleep.


Studies from Harvard University have indicated that a reduction of caffeine intake, eating dinner earlier than usual, pre-sleep routines, and making bedrooms more sleep friendly (feng-shui) can all help maximize the effectiveness of sleep on any given night.  Effective options to increase sleep quality for those against medications include acupuncture, holistic methods, or meditation.  Regardless, sleep medications and anti-anxiety medications may also be effective for individuals suffering from insomnia or similar impairing conditions.


Many students try to stay up as long as possible in order to cram for tests, but in actuality, it would be more fruitful to study less, and sleep more.

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The Importance of Sleep