What is sleep?

Sleep is a naturally recurring state of mind and body, characterized by altered consciousness, relatively inhibited sensory activity, reduced muscle activity and inhibition of nearly all voluntary muscles during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and reduced interactions with surroundings.Sleep occurs in repeating periods, in which the body alternates between two distinct modes: REM sleep and non-REM sleep.Sleep is a highly conserved behavior across human evolution.

Why is sleep important?

Sleep is undoubtedly one of the most essential requirements for the human body to function properly. It plays a very important role in ensuring the wellness of the human body, both physically as well as mentally. In fact, the importance of sleep is clear from the fact that it helps you with maintaining a good lifestyle throughout your entire lifetime. Not only does it help you maintain your physical and mental health, it also helps in maintaining a decent and healthy lifestyle along with ensuring safety from a number of fatal diseases.
While sleeping, our body finally gets its share of rest, and it also gets ample time to rejuvenate from all the wear and tear that it went through during the entire day. Not only this, the body is in its own working condition when we are sleeping, as this is the time when it supports the healthy functioning of the brain as well as physical attributes of our body. How many times have you been suffering from a headache, and then you slept for some time and found the pain to have vanished? This is the effect that a sound sleep session has on your mind as well as body.Sleep is not only important for grown-up individuals and people who go to work, but it is also very essential for small babies and children in their growing-up years, as well. In small children, sleep supports the growth as well as development of their minds and bodies, and hence is a non- negotiable activity necessary for all human beings.

What are the adverse effects of not getting proper sleep?

Sleep aids in the proper functioning of the human brain, and its deficiency can cause several different health issues in people. There are several chronic health issues which arise when the human body is not getting its desired rest and sleep. This, in turn, affects the way an individual’s body works and also affects their entire personal as well as professional life cycles.A person’s ability to make decisions, remember things, pay attention, as well as think creatively are all dependent on the amount of sound sleep they are managing to get on a daily basis. There are several behavioral issues also associated with lack of sleep, and this includes becoming a recluse both at home or school. Lack of sleep drains your mental abilities and puts your physical health at real risk. Science has linked poor slumber with all kinds of health problems, from weight gain to a weakened immune system.

Causes of sleep deprivation

In a nutshell, sleep deprivation is caused by consistent lack of sleep or reduced quality of sleep. Getting less than 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis can eventually lead to health consequences that affect your entire body. This may also be caused by an underlying sleep disorder. Noticeable signs of sleep deprivation include excessive sleepiness, yawning, irritability, daytime fatigue.

Ideal duration of sleep

By the time infants reach the age of two, their brain size has reached 90 percent of an adult-sized braina majority of this brain growth has occurred during the period of life with the highest rate of sleep. The hours that children spend asleep influence their ability to perform on cognitive tasks.Children who sleep through the night and have few night waking episodes have higher cognitive attainments and easier temperaments than other children.
Children need many hours of sleep per day in order to develop and function properly depending on their age. The amount of sleep as recommended by National Sleep Foundation in the US is
  • Newborns (0–3 months)     14 to 17 hours
  • Infants (4–11 months)     12 to 15 hours
  • Toddlers (1–2 years)     11 to 14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3–4 years)     10 to 13 hours
  • School-age children (5–12 years))     9 to 11 hours
  • Teenagers (13–17 years)     8 to 10 hours
  • Adults (18–64 years)     7 to 9 hours
  • Older Adults (65 years and over)     7 to 8 hours