This is an article writtne by a young personn in Angus, for Young Scot Information on Sleep, written in partnerhsip with Sleep Scotland – please see this article.
Why is Sleep Important?
By Charlotte Bruce
The progression of technology has brought our generation, specifically teenagers, to use our phone a lot more than we should. We totally disregard sleep. For the average human we spend 25 years of our lives sleeping which is why you are more likely to die from sleep deprivation than food deprivation. So, sleep deprivation is a problem for humans because lack of sleep can result in our brains and bodies being affected, for example because you have been sleeping less the part of brain called the locus coeruleus starts to react to the lack of sleep which releases stress hormones and you become more stressed, paranoid and even start to hallucinate, this can cause mental disorders.
So, how many hours of sleep do we need?
It varies between ages, but the average is 7-8 hours. Some of the benefits of sleep include being healthier physically and mentally because sleep gives your body and brain time to regenerate. Another benefit is that our brains have time during sleep to store and organise useful information to use at a later date, which is why you are told to have a good sleep before your exam because the brain is sorting the information you have just learnt. The brain also releases useless information from your brain while you sleep, to make way for more. Which means more memory space to remember new facts for exams.
Having trouble sleeping?
To have a regular sleep pattern you need good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is the monitoring of all behavioural and environmental factors that help sleep progress and factors that can disrupt your sleep. It is important to sleep the regular 7-8 hours every day and to only associate the bed with sleeping, for example it is not a good idea to use your bed to watch TV, listen to the radio, or read. Also make sure that the sleep environment is pleasant and relaxing. The bed should be comfortable, the room should not be too hot or cold, or too bright. The environment will create the balance between getting enough sleep and not spending too much time in bed.
Here, are some tips to maintain good sleep hygiene:
- Avoid napping during the day because it can disturb the normal pattern of sleep and wakefulness.
- Avoid caffeine and food products with caffeine in them, like chocolate.
- A relaxing exercise before sleeping like yoga, can be done before bed to help start a restful night’s sleep.
- Stay away from large meals close to bedtime. Especially spicy meals.
- Light exposure helps maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle. This is because light can register the visual system in the eyes that then start the process of sleep if it is light or dark in the day.
- This is where the overuse of phones at night come into play because the screen projects blue light which tells the visual system that it is day time and so you struggle to start the process of sleep.