Sleep is the one area many people think they can skimp on but has the biggest impact on their overall health. Sleep is not just for people who want to feel more rested. It is a necessary component, some argue, of making sure the brain and body function properly.
Sleep is one way the body and brain restores itself to balance. When we don’t sleep well, we often feel off kilter, even off balance, trying to get our footing for the day. Many theories point to the need for good sleep in REM to function during the day. Sleep helps the brain physiologically restore mental functions and may help people be more productive during the day. When the body is tired, it cannot function optimally. Toxic waste is also believed to be flushed out during sleep, which is why 6 to 8 hours is the norm for adults and more for young children who need additional sleep to grow healthy and strong.
Evolutionary theory of sleep suggests that when the brain is at rest, there is energy conserved. This means during sleep, the body is able to rest, but when awake it is combating constant information and material being handed to it left and right. Animals who have few predators, for instance, like lions, often sleep up to 15 hours per day. Animals with many predators sleep no more than 5 hours per day because they have to stay alert. This may explain why humans need a certain amount of sleep, although some argue that evolutionary principle is outdated.
The brain processes a lot of information during the day. One theory suggests that sleep gives the brain time to prepare for the next day by dumping things it does not need, consolidating the rest, and making room for new stuff. This makes sense if a person believes someone who has Alzeheimer’s may have been impacted by sleep deprivation. It can affect the ability to recall and remember information, one of the main tenets of the disease.The brain is very tricky when it comes to what it needs. It knows it needs sleep but the heart and body will it to keep going beyond its capacity. Drug use an perpetuate lack of sleep for days on end, sometimes, or insomnia with poor sleep. Sleep-deprived mothers and business folk who work long hours, or those who work overnight shifts, understand the great challenge of not getting enough (or good enough) sleep. Making sure the brain works properly is key to helping people in recovery who need support for the healing journey ahead. Ensuring proper sleep with medication and therapy can help a person feel more confident in recovery.
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