Benefits Of Sleep The Importance Of Sleeping

Sleep is a very important part of healthy living. Most doctors recommend that adults get at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night to receive the full benefits of sleep. But when you’re depressed, sleep may not come easily. Unfortunately, a lack of quality sleep and rest can lead to further health and emotional problems.

The Importance of Sleeping

One of the biggest benefits of sleep is that it allows time for your body to recover from the strain and stress of daily life. During sleep, your body repairs cell damage from sun exposure, pollutants, infections and other irritants. Your immune system and brain cells are rejuvenated during sleep. Sleep also works to help keep your blood pressure and cholesterol at baseline levels and reduces inflammation in your cardiovascular system.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your body lets you know. Short-term symptoms of sleep deprivation include impaired motor skills – which, if you’re driving, can be just as dangerous as driving drunk. Other symptoms include irritability, memory loss and an inability to process new information.

The importance of sleeping shouldn’t be underestimated. Long-term effects of chronic sleep deprivation are severe. Because you’re cheating your body out of the time it needs to repair itself, years of going without enough sleep have been linked to serious health problems, like obesity, diabetes and heart disease, as reported by researchers from the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Sleep and Rest: Stages of Sleep

A typical sleep cycle contains five stages of sleep:

  • Stage 1 (drowsiness): Only lasting 5 to 10 minutes, stage 1 is marked by slowed muscle activity and slow movement of the eyes under the eyelids. People are easily awakened during stage 1.
  • Stage 2 (light sleep): During this stage, eyes stop moving, body temperature drops and heart rate slows.
  • Stages 3 and 4 (deep sleep): It’s not easy to awaken people from deep sleep. If they are awakened, they’re often groggy. During deep sleep, the body works to restore energy and immune function.
  • Stage 5 (REM sleep): Marked by rapid eye movements, REM sleep allows the body to process emotions, relieve stress and retain memories. Dreams occur during this stage. The average person goes through three to five REM episodes each night.

Of the five stages of sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep are the most important for providing restorative benefits to your body.

Sleep and Depression

People with depression often experience problems with sleeping. Usually these problems involve insomnia – difficulty falling and staying asleep. People with depression may also wake up early in the morning. Because insomnia interferes with the restorative benefits of deep sleep and REM sleep, the person’s physical and mental health often worsens. Fortunately, treatment with antidepressants, therapy or other techniques often helps both insomnia and the underlying depression.


Resources

Better Sleep, Better Life. (2008). The benefits of sleep. Retrieved May 28, 2010, from www.better-sleep-better-life.com/benefits-of-sleep.html.

Healthy Sleep. (n.d.). Benefits of sleep. Retrieved May 28, 2010, from healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep.

Saisan, J., de Benedictis, T., Barson, S., Segal, R. (2008). Understanding sleep. Retrieved May 28, 2010, from helpguide.org/life/sleeping.htm.