The Importance of Sleep

sleeping1I probably don’t need to tell people who juggle online studies, work and family that it is important to make sure you carve out enough time for sleep.  We all know how spacey and “out of it” we feel when we miss sleep.  Sleep deprivation can be very dangerous.  Yet, recently, UCLA professor and sleep expert, Jerome Siegel questioned whether sleep had any correlation to physiological and neural functions.  In short, do we really need to sleep?

Siegel points out that many species of animals experience periods of sleeplessness as part of their normal lives.  And he questioned whether sleep may be more necessary for some species than others.  Because, Siegle postulates, if some animals can endure long periods of sleeplessness while others simply cannot, there must not be one single purpose for sleeping that is the same across all species.  He points to baby dolphins and whales that migrate for months without sleep.  Yet on the other side of the coin, the Brown Bat sleeps roughly 20 hours a day.  Both species do not seem to differ in their ability to survive and propagate in spite of the dramatic difference in sleep intake.

Siegel’s best guess is that each species sleeps in accordance with cycles that best correlate to their interaction with their environment and that sleep cycles are dictated by how they best help the individual species to be efficient in their habitat.  Thus, nocturnal animals like coyotes and raccoons sleep all day and awake at night when the hunting or foraging is best.  Similarly, humans – with eyes that work far better when it is light – sleep at night when the sun is down because they operate with greater efficiency in the light of day to cultivate crops and hunt.

But in today’s modern world, where we are not all involved in cultivating crops and hunting, and where we have developed artificial light sources, humans are not so tied to the daytime/nightime cycle of sleep and awakening.  Does this mean we will slowly grow to need less and less sleep?

Ask someone who is studying online while working and raising a family!

3 Responses to “The Importance of Sleep”

    • Find Time to Sleep

      I can’t speak for anyone else, but as a daycare provider I would definately say we need our sleep, even animals need to sleep. I beleive their are people including myself who do not get enough sleep mainly because of their busy lifestyles.

      A lot of our sleep habits are due to our environment and what we are conditioned too in our everyday lives and work habits. Some people sleep or 8 or 9 hours everyday, while others cannot sleep that long. If I go to sleep early, then I wake up early, unless I’m sick.

      As a daycare provider I see children that need to take naps or they become irritated and unruley and that’s because their tired. Other children may rest but they don’t sleep. When you talk to their parents you learn they don’t take naps at home either.

      I believe a lot of our sleeping habits (people) are based on our lives and what we are accustomed too. Personally when I’m up all night without sleep but still have to work and do my homework my eyes burn and my face hurts, and just like the child who becomes irratated, it’s the same for me, the only difference is, I know I’m sleepy.

  1. Elizabeth Lumpkin

    Something I have struggled with for years and have yet to understand, are the physical changes I go through when I have not gotten enough sleep. For me enough sleep is 9 to hours a night. A bit more than the average adult. On an average night in a n average week if i’m not in bed by 10:30 pm I start to feel anxious, sick to my stomach, lightheaded, irratable, I get brain fog and even delusional, shake uncontrollably, and there have been times when I passed out. If the week has been rough I need to be asleep much earlier. There are obvious reasons you need sleep but it is scary to think how much harm you could actually be doing yourself without it.

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