While sleeping, the brain conducts unconscious processes that help it retain memories and information. This process also helps the brain improve test scores. It also prunes neural connections, much like pruning a garden to ensure more water and minerals reach the healthier parts. This process allows the brain to focus on connections instead of scattered clumps of information.
A good night’s sleep also helps the body heal. When we sleep, the brain produces more cytokines, which are proteins that help the immune system fight infections. Lack of sleep reduces these proteins, reducing our ability to fight off common illnesses. In addition, research has shown that a lack of sleep can reduce the body’s response to vaccines. Volunteers who were sleep-deprived were half as likely to produce antibodies to the flu vaccine as those who had slept through the night.
While quantity is important, quality is even more important. A full night’s sleep can benefit your entire body, so make it a priority. Getting seven hours of quality sleep every night can improve your overall health. Not only does it repair damaged cells and repair tissues, but it also clears accumulated debris in the lymphatic system, which boosts your immune system.
Not getting enough sleep can also have a negative impact on your heart. Lack of sleep increases cortisol levels, which causes the heart to work harder. Insufficient sleep also reduces immunity, resulting in an increased risk of the common cold or other nasty school bugs.
The body goes through four stages of sleep. First, the REM (rapid eye movement) phase is where you dream most of the time. In the second stage, the body goes into deep sleep, during which you slow your heart rate. This stage is known as slow-wave sleep and accounts for about 25 percent of your total sleep time. It is the most difficult stage to wake up from, and is when sleepwalking, bedwetting, and night terrors take place. Deep sleep also repairs and strengthens the immune system, builds bones, and helps you feel refreshed.
Many Americans do not get enough sleep each night. In fact, one to four percent of highway crashes are caused by fatigue. Unfortunately, four percent of those crashes are fatal. Studies also show that cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective way to treat people who suffer from sleepiness. It teaches people to identify patterns and change them.
Lack of sleep can also lead to increased sensitivity, irritability, and impulsivity. It affects two areas of the brain, the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. Lack of sleep can also affect the ability to recognize emotions and to express them in social settings.
Getting a good night’s sleep is as important as eating the right food and exercising. Research shows that people who don’t get enough sleep have higher BMIs, more stress, and are more likely to become diabetic. In addition, lack of sleep can impair mental performance and inhibit the ability to think and process memories.