January 23, 2019 6 min read

Sleep. A lot of people crave it, there are those who take it for granted, and there are those who just bear with it just because it’s part of being alive. But just how important is sleep to your health?

The Different Stages Of Sleep

Generally speaking, a person goes through five stages in their sleep to complete a single sleep cycle. A person goes through roughly four cycles of sleep in an average 8-hour sleeping pattern, and being able to utilize whole sleep cycles fully is important to a person’s health and well-being.

  • Stage 1: Light Sleepis when your body is just feeling the beginnings of being asleep. This is also the stage where people commonly experience muscle spasms similar to the sensation of falling. It is during this stage that people are easiest to wake up because they don’t feel that they’ve slept at all.

  • Stage 2: Preparation For Deep Sleep is when your body’s core temperature begins to drop as you prepare for deep sleep. Your muscles are fully relaxed and your heart rate has slowed down.

  • Stage 3: Deep Sleep is when deep sleep begins. This is the point in your sleep where it is harder to wake you up as you are already well within your sleep cycle. Delta waves, which are the slowest brain wave patterns are being created and this is also the point where you experience night terrors and sleepwalking.

Giving your body the rest it needs is important for your health

  • Stage 4: Continuation of Deep Sleepis the deepest part of your sleep. When you’re roused in the middle of stage 4, you will feel disoriented and unsure of what is happening around you since your brain is creating mostly delta waves at this point.
  • Stage 5: Rapid Eye Movement (REM) is when your body detoxifies and heals itself from the stresses that you have gone through in the day. It is characterized by the rapid movement of your eyes, increased breathing, and increased brain activity. This is the part of your sleep where voluntary muscles are temporarily paralyzed so that you can avoid harming yourself while you are in your dream state. A person’s REM sleep extends longer and longer the more sleep cycles s/he experiences throughout his/her sleep.

The delta waves are responsible for the body’s digestion, heart rate, and is incredibly helpful in ensuring that the immune system is working at optimal level. It produces what is called restorative healing which helps in giving you better quality of sleep, and feeling refreshed the moment you wake up. The transition from deep sleep to REM sleep is crucial in ensuring that the body is able to cope with the stresses of everyday living, and it also helps in memory retention and the brain’s ability to focus on tasks later on in the day. It is also during this stage where stress is addressed and the body is able to heal and restore itself before embarking on the things that needs to be done the following day.

Importance Of Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep has more to it than just simply winding down your body after a day chock full of activities. It is your body’s natural way of healing itself, and it is also incredibly helpful in keeping your body’s immune system in check so that it can keep diseases and infections at bay.

  • Sleep Deprivation Can Make It Impossible To Focuswhen your body is deprived of the sleep it needs to recharge and heal itself, you may find it difficult to focus on the tasks you have at hand. There have been studies that show that some people are improperly diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) because their behavior manifests the same attributes as ADHD. It is always best to check all the boxes out before making a final conclusion because it is hazardous to a person’s health to be misdiagnosed with a disorder when there could be an underlying problem that’s causing the symptoms to manifest.

Focusing on your work can be a more difficult when you lack sleep

Not getting enough sleep can affect your weight

Losing sleep can also affect your immune system

  • Sleep Affects Your Weightthe amount of sleep you get affects the amount of energy you have in your body that you can use for physical activities, more specifically, for working out. You will feel heavier and would also tend to gravitate to food that can produce easy-access energy such as carbohydrates and sugar, which can give an energy boost when needed but can also greatly affect your weight. Sleep deprivation affects two hormones in your body: ghrelin, the hormone that tells you when you’re supposed to eat, and leptin, the hormone that tells you when to stop. When you lack sleep, you have more ghrelin and less leptin. That’s a recipe for definite weight gain.
  • Sleep Affects Your Immune System when you sleep, your body releases cytokines which are proteins that help you get better sleep and which also serves as a protection from infections and inflammations in the body, and also helps manage your stress levels. Lack of sleep suppresses the immune system’s response which can lead to the development of cough, colds, and other bacterial infections. Lack of sleep can also increase your chances of developing type II diabetes and heart disease because it can increase your insulin levels and it can also increase your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Sleep Affects The Brainwhen you sleep, you rest your body and your mind becomes more active in processing all the information that you have gathered throughout the day and forms them into memories. It is also during sleep that you are able to retain these information for later use which is why cramming for a test the night before usually leads to poor test results because you are unable to focus and are unable to recall the things that you studied from the night before. Lack of sleep also affects your fine motor skills, and also affects your performance throughout the day.
  • Sleep Induces The Release of Human Growth Hormonesleeping allows your body to heal from the physical, mental, and emotional engagements that you have gone through during the day. It allows your body to release human growth hormones that helps in repairing damage tissues and also helps in regeneration and multiplication of cells, as well as protein synthesis, which allows the body to replace cells that have degenerated over the course of time. It helps to maintain the health of body tissues and also helps in improving physical performance.

All those late nights spent reviewing will be put to waste if you don't get enough sleep before your exam (or interview!)

Looking to build muscles? Getting enough sleep will help you achieve your goals

How To Get More Out Of Your Sleep

In order to get more out of your sleep, you have to learn to let go of the things that have happened during the day to allow your mind to focus on its healing and restorative functions. Doingyoga and meditation can help in relaxing the mind before sleep and in releasing the tension from the body. Creating a routine before sleep also helps in preparing yourself for sleep as it gives you time to wind down and feel the familiar pattern of preparing for bed which will naturally make it easier for you to fall asleep once you’re in bed.

You should also avoid eating fatty and big meals before bedtime because it distracts your body from fully focusing on healing because it also has to digest the huge amount of food in your system. Caffeine is also best avoided because it keeps you on the edge and can also increase feelings of anxiety.

Enjoying The Best Way To End Your Day

Sleep is a gift that is given to us as an opportunity to restore ourselves and feel renewed every day. It is important to take the benefits into consideration when planning our days to make sure that as adults, we get at least seven hours of sleep per day. Our body is the only place we can live in, and taking care of it means getting it enough rest. It goes through so many things throughout the day that taking the time to allow it to regenerate is one of the best things that we can do for it to stay healthy and strong.

Sleeping is a luxury that you can definitely afford

So prepare your bed and take in the healing process that sleep affords you. Enjoy every moment and feel the rejuvenation that it provides you the moment you wake up from a good sleep. Love your body and it will definitely love you back.