Why Sleep is so Important

Can you go to bed at midnight and sleep until noon the next day? If this is a regular pattern, and you are not an infant, you are sleeping too much. Conversely, if you are elderly, midnight to 5:00 am may be all you require. A newborn infant may require up to 16 hours of sleep per day, teenagers need about 9 hours, and 7-8 hours for adults. This decreases slightly as we age past 65, some elderly people may only need 5-6 hours per night.

There is a lasting effect from night to night as well. Getting too little sleep for consecutive nights creates what we call a “sleep debt” which is just like a monetary debt. Many people adapt to a sleep-deprived lifestyle, but that doesn’t come without consequence. Reaction time, judgment, and immune functions are still greatly impaired.

Sleep deprivation, or failure to get enough sleep can be caused by several things and has many severe consequences. Some of the side effects of sleep deprivation include:

    • Irritability
    • Confusion
    • Memory problems
    • Blurred Vision
    • Diabetes
    • Nausea
    • Psychosis
    • Hypertension

The solution to this problem would seem to be an easy one, sleep more! Sleeping more, and most importantly, getting quality sleep, is not an option for millions of people in North America. Caffeine and other stimulants may temporarily overcome the effects of sleepiness, but they cannot do so over extended periods of time. It is estimated that nearly 90 million people in North America suffer from sleep disorders and are not getting proper sleep.

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