Stop yawning. 3 reasons why you need more sleep

By today's standards, it seems catching winks resembles more "catch and release."

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  • Life certainly dictates its own pace. As the demands of busy schedules pile up, it seems a good night's sleep is the first thing to go. The lack of adequate sleep knows no boundaries. Young people suffer from the same decline of proper sleeping habits as often as their parents. And in an effort to compensate for lost time, the loss of sleep carries its own consequences. Sleep is essential not only to getting through daily life, but also improving the quality of it. Here are 3 reasons why a good night's sleep is worth your time.

  • 1. Your mind needs quiet time

  • During the day, our senses are constantly bombarded with sights, sounds, tastes, and smells. You may think you are used to it by now, but the only way your brain is able to process and organize that information is through sleep, specifically during the REM stage.

  • When you sleep, your brain is not being inundated with all sorts of information thus allowing it to strengthen the neural connections it's already made during wakefulness. If you turn your back on sleep, you would still be able to form connections and memories, but they would be weak and unstable, disrupting your brain's ability to retrieve information.

  • According to a Harvard articleby Dr. Robert Stickgold, "Research suggests that sleep helps learning and memory in two distinct ways. First, a sleep-deprived person cannot focus attention optimally and therefore cannot learn efficiently. Second, sleep itself has a role in the consolidation of memory, which is essential for learning new information."

  • As tempting as it may be for your student to pull an all-nighter in preparation for tomorrow's exam, she would be better suited to go to bed early, get a healthy amount of sleep and wake up earlier to study for her exam.

  • 2. Your physical performance significantly decreases

  • "Not getting enough sleep has been linked to a laundry list of mental and physical health problems, including those that stem from an impaired immune system," wrote Denise Mann in her WebMD article, Can Better Sleep Mean Catching Fewer Colds? Our immune system is designed to protect us from colds, flu, and other ailments, but when it is not functioning properly, it fails to do its job. The consequences can include more sick days."

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  • You may also have to pay a few more visits to the doctor, since your immune system and sleep are heavily linked. Sleep deprivation hinders the production of T-cells, which are basically the cells in your body that fight off infection and viruses. So, not only do you feel miserable and tired, but you have to pay for it (literally) as well.

  • Our body is designed to trigger signals at times of need. It signals when it is hungry and needs energy, and it signals when it is tired and needs to be rested. Just as poor eating habits create an adverse effect on the body, so can inadequate sleeping patterns.

  • 3. You have a better attitude

  • Did your temper get out of hand today? Are you feeling stressed and out of focus? Is your outlook on life negative and cynical? Maybe the answer is to get in your eight hours. People have reported significantly better attitudes when they get enough sleep, not to mention lower levels of stress, depression and anxiety.

  • There is no simple answer as to why sleep affects your mood, but it has to do with your energy. It takes energy to go through your daily life, and when you don't have sufficient energy to do that, you become frustrated and stressed.

  • We all need our sleep, but the amount varies with age. According to the National Sleep Foundation, toddlers around one to two years need an average of 11 to 14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. School-aged children around the ages of 6 to 13 years need approximately 9 to 11 hours of sleep.

  • Ironically, this is the age where responsibilities and activities that occur outside of the home demand much of your child's time. So it's important to teach your children the importance of time management to better maintain a healthy sleep schedule. You want to establish healthy sleep habits now that can carry your child into his later years.

  • For adults, the predominant number is eight hours. By the way, honoring a healthy sleep schedule is a wonderful example for your children. If they see you regularly pulling an all-nighter to get a project finished, the lesson is learned quickly.

  • Not only does sleep make you feel good, it's a necessary component to functioning properly. Sleep strengthens your mind, your body, your immune system, and your disposition. So, grab your pillow. You're not just sleeping, you are building a better, stronger and healthier you — one dream at a time.

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