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Sleep plays the most vital role in optimal health and well-being throughout life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times is essential to safety and helping protect mental and physical health for enhanced quality of life!
During sleep, the body uses oxygen to support and maintain healthy brain function and physical health. In children and teens, quality sleep is necessary for development and growth of the body and organs.
The damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant (such as a car crash), or it can bring major harm over time: undetected, until it’s too late. Ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for a surprising number of chronic health problems, along with drastically and subconsciously affecting how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.
Studies prove that quality sleep dramatically improves learning, whether it’s math, playing piano, perfecting your golf swing or driving a car. It also helps you pay attention, make decisions, and be creative! While you're sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. It's forming new pathways to help you learn and remember that information.
Sleep deficiency alters activity in some parts of the brain; therefore, if you're sleep deficient you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency also has been directly linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior.
Children and teens who are sleep deficient may have problems getting along with others. They may feel angry and impulsive, have mood swings, feel sad or depressed, or have strong lack motivation. They also may find it difficult to pay attention, resulting in high stress and lower grades.
Disease & Illness - The entire immune system relies on sleep for maintenance and life. This system defends your body against foreign or harmful substances; therefore, ongoing sleep deficiency can change the way in which your immune system responds. For example, if you're sleep deficient, you may have trouble fighting common infections.
Sleep is essentially involved in repair and healing of the heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency greatly increases risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
It also increases the risk of obesity: a study done on teenagers showed that with each hour of sleep lost, obesity odds went up! It’s been proven to affect all age groups this way; this is because sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don't get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up, while leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you're well-rested. Sleep also affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) level. Sleep deficiency results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, which may increase your risk for diabetes!
Growth & Development - Sleep has so many important roles: it triggers the body to release the hormone that promotes normal growth in children and teens. This hormone also boosts muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues in children, teens, and adults, making it the key player in puberty and fertility.
After several nights of losing quality hours of sleep, even a loss of just 1–2 hours per night, ability to function during the day suffers as though the body hasn't slept for a couple days! People who are sleep deficient are less productive at work and school: they take longer to finish tasks, have a slower reaction time, and make more mistakes.
Lack of sleep also may lead to microsleep. Microsleep refers to brief moments of sleep that occur when you're normally awake. Microsleep cannot be controlled and usually isn’t detectable before it’s too late. Have you ever driven somewhere, and then not remembered part of the trip? If so, you may have experienced microsleep.
Even if you're not driving, microsleep can affect how you function. If you're listening to a lecture, for example, you might miss some of the information or feel like you don't understand the point. In reality, though, you may have slept through part of the lecture and not been aware of it.
Many are unaware of the great risks linked to lack of sleep, and in fact do not even realize there is a deficiency at all. Individuals with limited or poor-quality sleep typically are not able to decipher what optimal body function feel and looks in comparison to how they are used to living without that quality sleep.
Drowsy drivers may feel more than capable of driving, yet studies show that sleep deficiency harms your driving ability as much as, or more than, being drunk. It's estimated that driver sleepiness is a factor in about 100,000 car accidents each year, resulting in about 1,500 deaths.
Drivers aren't the only ones affected by sleep deficiency. It can affect people in all lines of work, including health care workers, pilots, students, lawyers, mechanics, and assembly line workers.
For more information on the importance of sleep to your health please click here.
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