The Importance of Sleep

The Importance of Sleep

3 things lack of sleep does 

1. Sleepiness slows down your thought processes. Scientists measuring sleepiness have found that sleep deprivation leads to lower alertness and concentration. It’s more difficult to focus and pay attention, so you’re more easily confused. This hampers your ability to perform tasks that require logical reasoning or complex thought.

Sleepiness also impairs judgment. Making decisions is more difficult because you can’t assess situations as well and pick the right behaviour.

 

2. Excessive sleepiness impairs memory. Research suggests that the nerve connections that make our memories are strengthened during sleep. “Sleep embeds the things that we have learned and experienced over the course of the day into our short-term memory,” says Avelino Verceles, MD, assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the school’s sleep medicine fellowship.

It appears that different phases of sleep play different roles in consolidating new information into memories. If your sleep is cut short or disrupted, it interferes with these cycles.

When you’re sleepy, you may forget and misplace things often. And the inability to focus and concentrate caused by sleepiness further weakens memory. “If you’re not able to concentrate on what’s at hand, it’s not going to make it into your short-term memory and then long-term memory,” says Allison T. Siebern, PhD, a Fellow in the Insomnia and Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Stanford University Sleep Medicine Center.

 

3. Poor sleep makes learning difficult. Sleep deprivation affects your ability to learn in two ways. Because you can’t focus as well, it’s more difficult to pick up information, so you can’t learn efficiently. It also affects memory, which is essential to learning. In children, sleepiness can lead to hyperactivity, also hampering learning. Teens may lose the focus, diligence, and memory capacity to perform well in school.

 

The Biggest Danger of Sleepiness: Slowed Reaction Time

Sleepiness makes your reaction time slower, a special problem when driving or doing work or other tasks that require a quick response. You don’t need to fall asleep at the wheel to be a danger -- drowsiness alone can be as dangerous as driving drunk. Driving while sleepy is like driving with a blood alcohol content of .08% -- over the legal limit in many states. And drinking and drowsiness are double trouble when driving because sleep deprivation magnifies the affects of alcohol.

The people at highest risk for fatigue-related auto accidents are teenagers and young adults, especially men. Shift workers who work at night or work long or irregular hours and people with untreated sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and narcolepsy are also at high risk.

A slowed reaction time can endanger lives in other ways. In a 2009 study done with cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point, researchers from the University of Texas in Austin found that sleep deprivation hampered information-integration. This is a function of the mind that relies heavily on split-second, gut-feeling decisions. The researchers noted that this could be a particular concern for firefighters, police officers, soldiers, and others who are often sleep deprived on the job.

 

The Impact of Sleepiness on Mood and Mental Health

Lack of sleep can alter your mood significantly. It causes irritability and anger and may lessen your ability to cope with stress. According to the NSF, the “walking tired” are more likely to sit and seethe in traffic jams and quarrel with other people. Sleep-deprived people polled by the NSF were also less likely than those who sleep well to exercise, eat healthfully, have sex, and engage in leisure activities because of sleepiness.

“Over time, impaired memory, mood, and other functions become a chronic way of life,” says Siebern. “In the long term, this can affect your job or relationships.”

Chronic sleepiness puts you at greater risk for depression. They are so closely linked that sleep specialists aren’t always sure which came first in their patients. “Sleep and mood affect each other,” says Verceles. “It’s not uncommon for people who don’t get enough sleep to be depressed or for people who are depressed to not sleep well enough.”

 

How Do You Know if Sleepiness Is a Problem?

Because individual sleep needs vary, experts say the best way to gauge whether you’re getting enough sleep is by how you feel. “You shouldn’t feel sleepy when you wake up,” says Verceles. “You should be energetic throughout the day and slowly wind down as you approach your usual bedtime.”

Krakow suggests assessing your day-to-day abilities and quality of life. “Ask yourself if your cognitive performance is where you want it to be,” he says. “Are you having conflicts with other employees or your boss over your memory, attention, or concentration -- and particularly your productivity?”

 

The Importance of Sleep

“You’re putting energy in the bank when you go to sleep,” says Barry Krakow, MD, medical director of Maimonides Sleep Arts and Sciences, Ltd. in Albuquerque, N.M., and author of Sound Sleep, Sound Mind: 7 Keys to Sleeping Through the Night. “On a cellular level, the body is literally repairing and restoring itself. Without it, you can’t do what you want -- physically or mentally.”

Lack of sleep is linked to a number of unfavourable health consequences including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and depression. Some psychiatric conditions can cause sleep problems, and sleep disturbances can also exacerbate the symptoms of many mental conditions including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

 

How does sleep affect Mental health?

Sleep and mental health are closely connected. Sleep deprivation affects your psychological state and mental health. And those with mental health problems are more likely to have insomnia or other sleep disorders.

Americans are notoriously sleep deprived, but those with psychiatric conditions are even more likely to be yawning or groggy during the day. Chronic sleep problems affect 50% to 80% of patients in a typical psychiatric practice, compared with 10% to 18% of adults in the general U.S. population. Sleep problems are particularly common in patients with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/sleep-and-mental-health

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/emotions-cognitive

https://www.verywellmind.com/how-sleep-affects-mental-health-4783067

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