Getting good quality sleep every night is imperative to both good physical and mental health. It is often said that restful sleep is the glue that keeps us functioning normally as human beings.
In this article, Sleep and Physical Health, I will describe the four specific consequences of sleep and physical health and my accompanying article will deal with four specific consequences of Sleep and Mental Health.
1. Sleep and Memory – Researchers have found that not getting enough sleep distracts the brain from focusing and being able to retain information. According to accepted authorities there are three parts to “making memories” – the acquisition phase, the consolidation phase, and the recall phase. While the acquisition phase and the recall phase happen while we are awake, it is believe that sleep is required for the consolidation phase of forming memories, or in other words, making facts or episodic-type memories stick. So, keeping late hours and “cramming” for a test as a student may not be the best strategy to performing well with recall. Better to make sure that a restful night of sleep is had before that big test.
2. Sleep and Learning – Similar to sleep and memory, it’s very difficult to learn new facts, ideas, or concepts without having first gotten adequate sleep. An interesting study was done with bees to illustrate the lack of ability to learn appropriately when not getting enough sleep. The bees’ sleep was interfered with, which caused them real difficulty in remembering experiences they had learned a day previous. It is widely accepted that this is the same with humans.
3. Sleep and Moods – All of us have experience the temper and bad mood of someone who has “woken up on the wrong side of the bed”. Lack of sleep causes irritability, and disorientation. Not getting enough sleep can cause individuals to become quite emotional. Sleep deprivation is tied to depression as well. In fact, those who are repeatedly awakened during the R.E.M. sleep state can become very angry. Extended periods of sleep deprivation can even cause hallucinations or delusions and even death in extreme cases, when it was used as part of certain types of ‘cross questioning’. It just makes sense that getting enough sleep can mitigate some of the stresses we face on a daily basis, and help to keep emotions and moods on a more even keel.
4. Sleep and Creativity and Imagination – Having good quality sleep on a consistent basis does lend itself to better creativity and imagination. The phrase “sleep on it” is actually very sound advice. During sleep our subconscious can go to work to help us solve problems. Often dreams can provide insight that we hadn’t considered during waking hours. Dreams are often the product of our imaginations, wrapped together with portions of true experience. There is an interesting BBC article covering notable examples of “dream discoveries”. Get your sleep and create something wonderful! Look out for it soon in our March Newsletter – 5 Dream Discoveries.
Some of the reasons for sleep are plain common sense, while others have yet to be discovered. For now though, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night (for adults) is the best recipe for good, sustainable health and longevity.
As we know of course, most disturbed nights are caused by someone snoring – both partners actually having a disturbed night, but for different reasons. This is so easy to prevent and with little cost. A range of NHS approved remedies from SleepPro, such as their high quality but inexpensive mouthpieces will soon solve the problem. They have a record of working well, do it quickly and are a low cost solution that is readily and quickly available without prescription.
However make sure that you keep in touch with your GP or local Clinic because they’ll give you good advice on how to stop snoring and check out if it’s caused you any health problems.
By John Redfern