Did you know that a third of your life is actually spent in sleeping? And did you know that the amount of energy saved everytime you sleep is so unsubstantial? Getting the normal eight hours of sleep only amounts to about 50 kilo calories, or what is equivalent to the energy that can be had for eating a piece of toast. If that is the case, what then is the fuss about getting enough sleep in order for our body to have a chance to recharge and recuperate from its daily activities?
“Why do we sleep?” is a question that has eluded many scientists and researchers for many centuries. Until now, they still cannot give a definite answer as to why we sleep. All they could offer is the fact that sleep is absolutely essential in maintaining the normal and healthy function of our brains. We have to sleep in order to develop normal levels of cognitive skills such as speech, memory, innovative and flexible thinking.
A better way to understand the significance of sleep would be to ask the question, “What happens if we don’t sleep?” Now, we can come up with several answers to this question based on our very own experiences.
Lack of Sleep
Most people exhibit unpleasant behavior such as being sluggish, irritable, grouchy, and forgetful when they don’t get enough sleep. Obviously, lack of sleep has serious effects on our brain functions. Sleep deprivation results in the inability to focus and concentrate, or having a shorter attention span compared to when we are fully rested. Inadequacy of sleep impairs certain parts of the brain that are responsible for the control of our cognitive functions, our ability to respond to stimuli, in making decisions and rational judgments. But lack of sleep is not only a matter of having an “off day”, or being irritable, or lacking energy. Who would have thought that lack of sleep can be a contributory factor attributed to a number of disastrous events such as the Chernobyl Nuclear Tragedy and the Challenger Shuttle Explosion? Sleep deprivation, when taken to the extreme, can lead to human error and catastropic consequences.
Sleep deprivation weakens or slows down our cognitive functions. It poses very serious risks to our mental, emotional and physical health.
But what causes lack of sleep in the first place?
Disorders such as insomia and sleep apnea have been the leading causes of sleep deprivation. These conditions have been associated with stress, obesity and high blood pressure, among others.
Due to the serious consequences of sleep deprivation, an equally serious thought should be given to the need to manage our sleeping habits and the various factors that influence our bedtime behavior. Once you have exhausted all means and tips to get a good night’s sleep such as avoiding caffeine and daytime naps, or relaxing before bedtime — you may need to take another step, this time, towards the option of medication. If sleep remains elusive inspite of the dozens of techniques you’ve used, taking sleeping pills may already be a good option for you to consider. Sleeping pills are sedative drugs which are used to relieve anxiety, stress, depression, and even muscle tension by slowing down the central nervous system. This medication is nothing new and dates back many centuries when opiate laudanum, barbituates, benzodiazepines, and non-benzodiapines were introduced. There are several over-the-counter sleeping pills available in the market. These medications may not carry the same risks of drug dependency and sleeping pill overdose as other products released decades ago. However, certain medical conditions such as liver and kidney problems may have adverse reaction with the use of the current crop of sleep-inducing drugs. Frequency of use may influence the effectivity of the medication. Caution and proper consultation with a physician is strongly advised. Some side-effects of sleeping pills are dizziness and prolonged drowsiness. It may also cause dry mouth, severe allergic reaction, facial swelling, lightheadedness, abdominal pain, rash, nausea, vomiting, depression, reduced interest in sex, chest pain, sleep-driving, over-eating, blurred vision, and low-blood pressure.
All of us deserve to find quality rest and relaxation that only sleep can provide. The easiest way to start getting that rest is by sticking to a regular sleeping habit and by practicing a healthy lifestyle. Living a good life is not just about the fun and excitement of activities done while you are awake. Living a good life also means having enough time in the sack.