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What's The Big Deal About Sleep? Some Solid Facts

Oct 12, 2007
We've been hearing all our lives that we need to get to bed to get our sleep. So what's the big deal? Are there really any big consequences to cheating ourselves out of adequate sleep? Let's look at some solid facts about the subject of sleep.

HOW MUCH SLEEP IS NEEDED EACH DAY?

* Infants: 16 hours
* Teenagers: 9 hours
* Adults: usually 7-8 hours or as few as 5 hours to as much as 10 hours
* Pregnant women: early in pregnancy need several more hours a night
* Elderly: need as much as younger adults, but sleep less soundly so need more

REM SLEEP IS CRUCIAL TO OUR WELLBEING.

REM sleep was discovered in the study of infants around 1953. This is the type of sleep when dreaming takes place, usually about two hours a night. There is an increased production of proteins during this time.

REM sleep stimulates the brain regions that are used in learning of certain mental skills.

SLEEP DEPRIVATION LOWERS OUR MENTAL SHARPNESS.

Without adequate sleep our nervous systems do not work properly. Our memory is impaired and our ability to do math calculations is reduced. Sleep-deprived people tested by using a driving simulator performed as badly as or worse than those who were intoxicated.

Sleep rests the portion of the brain used in our emotional and social functioning, allowing us to be at our best after the night.

LACK OF SLEEP AFFECTS OUR PHYSICAL HEALTH.

Animal studies have shown that sleep is necessary for survival. Rates died by the age of 3 - 5 weeks instead of their usual life span of 2-3 years when they were deprived of sleep. They also developed low body temperatures and body sores indicating a compromised immune system.

Human hand-eye coordination has been shown to be very poor in a sleep-deprived person.

Getting adequate sleep encourages the production of the human growth hormone that helps to build muscle mass, thicken skin, and strengthen bones. Sleep is one of the simplest things people can do to avoid accelerated aging.

SLEEP DEPRIVATION KILLS.

Driver fatigue has been blamed for an estimated 100,000 motor vehicle accidents and 1500 deaths each year. Sleep deprivation magnifies alcohol's effects on the body, causing great impairment. The National Sleep Foundation gives some guidelines for determining if you are too drowsy to drive:

* You have trouble keeping your eyes focused.
* You can't stop yawning.
* You can't remember driving the last few miles.

TAKE SOME TIME TO ASSESS YOUR OWN SITUATION.

Are you making your sleep a priority in your life?

If you have been skimping on your sleep, how has it been affecting you, your work, and your family?

What self-care steps can you take to optimize your body and brain?
About the Author
Exuberant Productivity Coach, Suzanne Holman, MAEd, works with financial service professionals, realtors, and self-employed professionals determined to make every hour they work truly productive so they have quality time and abundant energy for fun and family! For a FREE Exuberance Assessment and tips for increasing your productivity and having a more satisfying life, visit
Exuberant Productivity.com
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