2Sleep A Dynamic Activity Do you ever feel sleepy or "zone out" during the day? Do you find it hard to wake up on Monday mornings? If so, you are familiar with the powerful need for sleep. However, you may not have realized that sleep is as essential to your well being as food and water.Sleep is defined as: A natural periodic state of rest for the mind and body, in which the eyes usually close and consciousness is completely or partially lost, so that there is a decrease in bodily movement and responsiveness to external stimuli. During sleep the brain in humans and other mammals undergoes a characteristic cycle of brain-wave activity that includes intervals of dreaming. Until the 1950’s most people thought of sleep as a passive, dormant part of our daily lives. We now know that our brain are very active during sleep. Moreover, sleep affects our daily functioning and our physical and mental health in many ways that we are just beginning to understand.
3REM SleepWe typically spend more than 2 hours each night dreaming. Scientists do not know much about how or why we dream. Sigmund Freud, who greatly influenced the field of psychology, believed dreaming was a "safety valve" for unconscious desires. Only after 1953, when researchers first described REM in sleeping infants, did scientists begin to carefully study sleep and dreaming. They soon realized that the strange, illogical experiences we call dreams almost always occur during REM sleep. While most mammals and birds show signs of REM sleep, reptiles and other cold-blooded animals do not. REM sleep stimulates the brain regions used in learning. This may be important for normal brain development during infancy, which would explain why infants spend much more time in REM sleep than adults. Like deep sleep, REM sleep is associated with increased production of proteins. One study found that REM sleep affects learning of certain mental skills. People taught a skill and then deprived of non-REM sleep could recall what they had learned after sleeping, while people deprived of REM sleep could not. Some scientists believe dreams are the cortex's attempt to find meaning in the random signals that it receives during REM sleep.
4Lack of Sleep Makes Life Difficult Most of us need 7 -8 hours of continuous sleep to feel good and function well, but we often get far less with today’s busy lifestyles. Sleep deprivation affects our health and our work. Following are descriptive ways insufficient sleep affects us. It causes a sleep dept, reduces performance and productivity, decreases alertness, strains relationships and creates mood changes.Sleep Debt Sleep debt is a new concept that describes the accumulative effect of sleep deprivation. We can shorten our sleep for a night or two without serious consequences, but long-term lack of adequate sleep takes its toll on us. Sleep dept works just like a financial debt. It exists until we repay it with extra zzzzzzs. An example of sleep debt is: If we need 8 hours of sleep per night, but only get 6 hours, we need an additional 14 hours of sleep for the week and we have built a sleep debt of 14 hours!
5Sleep debt influences our daytime functioning Some of the health problems resulting from sleep debt are: high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, sleep apnea, obesity, headaches and digestive problems. Prolonged sleep debt is difficult to erase, since one good night’s sleep does not take the place of many poor ones. We can partially make up for a sleep debt by taking a 20-minute nap, or by sleeping 15 minutes longer each night, or by getting extra sleep on weekends. But the best way to reverse a sleep debt is to try to get the sleep we need each night.
6Reduced Performance and Productivity One of the major functions of sleep is to allow the brain adequate time to organize and store information during REM (dream) sleep to improve thinking skills. The huge amount of facts, thoughts, feelings and ideas we encounter during the day all require processing and storage during sleep to allow us to operate at top performance levels. Top performance includes the ability to: focus well - work with ideas plan ahead - organize information problem solve - handle difficult tasks When we are tired from inadequate sleep, our ability to think clearly, quickly and accurately is strained. Our brain cannot complete its work properly, and our performance and productivity suffer.Click here for some stats.
7Strained Relationships Heavy job demands versus neglected personal time can cause conflict in our relationships. When work-time challenges personal time, we minimize time for our self or family and friends. We can become overwhelmed and do not have the energy and patience to deal with day-to-day problems. Chronic sleep deprivation creates a destructive cycle. We become more tired, more tense and short-tempered, then we have more conflicts with others and we accomplish fewer tasks each day. Shift in MoodsFrequently emotional symptoms are: difficulty relaxing increased tendency to worry inability to maintain a balanced perspective heightened feelings of frustration and nervousness increased tendency towards bouts of anxiety and depression
8100,000 patient deaths per year Some StatsThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) estimates that sleep deprivation causes:100,000 Car Accidents per year100,000 patient deaths per yearNHTSANAS
9How Much Sleep Do We Need? Sleeping well is often a result of having good sleeping habits, which parents are responsible for teaching to their children. The child’s sleeping pattern – whether or not it sleeps and for how long – affects the entire family. That is why good sleeping habits and rules about bedtime are importantHow much sleep each person needs is up to the individual.newbornhrs.3 mos.13 -156 – 12 mos.12 -143 yrs.10 -12teens8 -10adultsClick here to learn about Circadian rhythms.
10Circadian RhythmsSleep is influenced by the circadian timing system, a bundle of neurons, embedded deep in the brain, that regulates production of a sleep-inducing chemical called melatonin and sets natural bedtime and rise time. In general, body functions that occur rhythmically every 24 hours are called circadian rhythms. The body’s primary biological clock is the suprachiasmatic nucleus located in the hypothalamus. It regulates many of the body’s internal, or endogenous (produced within the organism), rhythms. The external light/dark cycle, in other words, the hours of daylight (diurnal cycle) and hours of darkness (nocturnal cycle), is particularly important in maintaining regularity of the CTS. The sleep/wake cycle is particularly susceptible to becoming disrupted by changes in external light/dark cues. The sleep/wake cycle is one of the endogenous rhythms of the body.Click here to learn about why teens need more sleep.
11Why Teens Need More Sleep The hormone, Melatonin, regulates sleeping and waking patterns. Lack of sleep damage’s peoples ability to learn, respond, create, and to stay healthy. Teenagers have a particular problem with lack of sleep. During these years, the body’s rhythm, their biological clock, has a different pattern. The production of the hormone Melatonin occurs later at night in teens. This makes it harder for teens to fall asleep early. Early start times for school and social habits can create a sleep deficit. It’s biological The severity and prevalence of teens’ sleep deprivation is causing a growing concern among researchers, educators and parents. A recent study of 3,120 Rhode Island teenagers found that 85 percent were chronically sleep-deprived and accumulated a minimum 10-hour sleep deficit during the week. Forty percent went to bed after 11 p.m.; 26 percent said they usually got less than 6.5 hours on school nights. Teenagers need at least 9.25 hours of sleep to function properly in school, compared to the 8 hours of sleep needed by adults.
12Walking During Sleep; Somnambulism Sleepwalking is a sleep disorder characterized by walking or other activity while seemingly still asleep. Sleepwalking most often occurs during deep non-REM sleep (stage 3 or stage 4) early in the night. It can occur during REM sleep near morning. In children, the cause is usually unknown but may also be related to fatigue, prior sleep loss, or anxiety. In adults, sleep walking is usually associated with a disorder of the mind but may also be seen with reactions to drugs and/or medications, alcohol and medical conditions such as partial complex seizures. The sleep walking activity may include simply sitting up and walking around, or complex activities such as moving furniture, going to the bathroom, dressing and undressing. Some people even drive a car while actually asleep. The episode can be very brief (a few seconds or minutes) or can last for 30 minutes or longer. Note: It is not dangerous to awaken a sleep walker, although the person may be disoriented for a short time on awakening.
13The FutureSleep Research is expanding and attracting more and more attention from scientists. Researchers now know that sleep is an active and dynamic state that greatly influences our waking hours. We can expect many benefits from research that will allow us to truly understand sleep’s impact on our lives.Test Your Needs To find out more about your sleep needs and to see if you need to make changes in your sleep habits, visit the following sites to become a new you.