Importance of Sleep

The Importance of Sleep – The amount of sleep each person needs varies by person. Most adults need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night. Newborns sleep between 16 and 18 hours per day. Pre-school children sleep between 10 and 12 hours each day. School aged children and teenagers need at least 9 hours of sleep per night.

In humans, the metabolic activity of the brain decreases significantly after 24 hours with no sleep. Sleep deprivation results in a decrease in body temperature, a decrease in immune system function, and a decrease in the release of growth hormones. Sleep deprivation can also cause increased heart rate variability.

Animal studies have shown that sleep is necessary for survival. Sleep deprived rats live for only about 3 weeks while their normal life span is 2-3 years. They also develop abnormally low body temperatures and sores on their tails and paws. The sores probably relate to weakened immune systems.

Sleep is necessary for our nervous systems to work properly. Lack of sleep makes a person drowsy and unable to concentrate. It leads to impairment of memory, physical performance, and reduced ability to carry out mathematical calculations. Long term sleep deprivation may lead to hallucinations and mood swings.

Release of growth hormones in children and young adults takes place during deep sleep. Most cells of the body show increased production and reduced breakdown of proteins during deep sleep. Sleep helps humans maintain optimal emotional and social functioning while awake by giving rest during sleep to the parts of the brain that control emotions and social interactions.

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