Sleep is a period of reduced consciousness, from which one can be easily aroused. For sleep to be satisfactory, the quality matters more than quantity. This quantity varies from person to person, with age and with activity.
So the question is why do we need sleep ? What happens during sleep ? Would it be wise to stay up to boost productivity ?
Sleep is restorative to both body and mind. A few days of sleeplessness will lead to irritability, cognitive disturbances, and sometimes even seizures.
So why do we need sleep ?
Memory – better sleep well or you will be forgetful. During sleep memory is consolidated to be stored in the longer term. The brain decides what to keep and what to discard. Sleeplessness leads to poor memory and poor cognition. This is why studying all night for exams and not sleeping enough does not make sense.
Mood and Cognition – With insufficient sleep, the activity and function of the brain changes in a way that one has difficulty making decisions, problem solving, controlling emotions and coping with change. Remember how irritable you get when you haven’t slept well for a couple of days ? There are definite reciprocal connections between sleep, depression, suicide and risk-taking behavior.
Health – A number of restorative hormonal changes occur during sleep everyday. Imbalances in hormones such as Ghrelin and leptin can lead to a ravenous appetite and obesity in those who do not sleep well. Growth hormone released during deep sleep, repairs damaged cells and tissues. Further hormones that regulate inflammation and immunity are also adversely affected by the lack of sleep.
Thus a lack of productive sleep will leave one irritable, forgetful and sick. In the long term any temporary boost to productivity will lose its advantage. It is important that one prioritizes sleep and maintains proper sleep hygiene for a healthy mind and a healthy body.
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