The Benefits of Sleep and the Brain

There is a reason why the Bible says “He gives His beloved sweet sleep.”  Sweet sleep! Today we will look at the benefits of sleep and the brain, examining why sleep is sweet, and what the effects are on our everyday life.

Noted Professor, Doctor, and author, Dr. James Maas says it best in the book he co-authored entitled: Sleep for Success’.  I was particularly impressed by the title of the book; it seems that even though there are only three words in the title, the message is clear. A portion of the book reads as follows:

Most of us are sleep deprived, causing reduced concentration, lowered productivity, poorer quality of work and athletic performance. We also experience an increase in moodiness, stress, accidents, and illness.  Our well-being and quality of life is significantly compromised.

This list represents the adverse effects lack of sufficient sleep will have on the human body.

Symptoms of Insufficient Sleep

Heavy eyelids during the afternoon
Sleeping extra hours on weekends
Using caffeine to stay alert
Using an alarm to get out of bed

If you experience any of these symptoms, then that means that you are one of the millions of Americans who are sleep-deprived.  We all need to take note of this, because we need to realize that it is a blessing to be able to sleep.  It is the time when the body revitalizes itself and performs functions that can only occur when we sleep.

Sleep in babies

As parents, we know how important it is for our babies to sleep.  Even if we are not medically inclined, we do know that they seem to grow during the time they are asleep. So sleep time is important for them.  We also notice that when they become drowsy they tend to become cranky, and this can irritate a caregiver.  Experts say that when babies struggle with going to sleep it is because they have been overstimulated.Sleep and babies

Sometimes they become overstimulated because of vigorous play close to nap or bed time, or because there has been big changes in their routine, or perhaps they are in a crowd. This excitement causes the brain to release chemicals into their bodies, and brings about this reaction.

Prior to doing my research, I must admit that I wondered why my grand-baby fussed so much when he wanted to sleep.  I even thought that it was because he missed his mother. We must ease up on the play and keep things calm.  I find that soft music and a rocking motion usually gets the job done.  Do you use any other solutions?

Sleep in Children

I think many parents overlook the importance of sleep for their children. Similar to babies, children should not be overstimulated prior to bedtime.  From my own experience, I know that it is necessary to “force” children into their bed, if not they would stay up all night.

However, if you want your children and grandchildren to perform at their peak at school, or at play, they need to be fully alert, energetic, in a good mood, and cognitively sharp. Sleep promotes good academic and athletic performance.

A good bedtime story is very appropriate especially for small children.

Sleep in Adults

Recent medical research proves that sleep deprivation literally “makes you stupid, clumsy, stressed out, unhealthy, and will shorten your life.  You must be able to concentrate, remember, have great reaction time, make critical and creative decisions, communicate persuasively, and be productive all day long.”

I do not need to elaborate on this statement given by the experts, because both you and I can attest to its truth.

Sleep in Elderly

As adults get older, sleep becomes even more important because it helps to improve their (our) concentration and memory.  Doctors say that a good night’s sleep allows the body to repair any cell damage if any, and refreshes the immune system. These two factors help to prevent disease and promote longevity.

This is a short overview of how sleep or lack of sleep affects the brain. Don’t skimp on a good night’s sleep either for yourself or for your children.  Sleep on It…and you will find greater creativity, less stress, and an overall better quality of life.

In my next blog, I will give you suggestions for improved sleep.

Sleep on It!

Judy

Comments 6

  • Oh yes!

    Sleep is incredibly important and is a vital part of having a healthy, balanced life.

    It is also vital to see sleep as something to be enjoyed, because if you view it in that way, you are more likely to sleep more too!

    Thanks =)

    • Thanks for stopping by Lawrence.

      I agree with you that we should view sleep as something to be enjoyed. We understand how babies and children think that they would be missing something by going to sleep, but as adults we need the recognize that it is an essential part of our health.

      Many people suffer from sleep disorders, whether physical or mental, so we are thankful for a good night’s sleep.

      Judy

  • Judy, here I am shortening my sleep time to work on my website and then I came across your article (smile). It is true though that sleep is indeed sweet and when we miss this “sweetness” in our lives we are in fact moody and less productive.

    Two questions though, do you think it matters the time of day or night that we sleep? Or, is it enough to get the 8 hours in?

    • Hi Josephine, thanks for stopping by.

      Personally, if I have missed any sleep during the night, my body will tell me during the daytime, and so I “catch up” with a nap and end up feeling refreshed.

      Bear in mind, however, that our bodies has an ‘internal clock’ which does not like to be disturbed, and during the night when you are fully rested, the body and mind are still at work. For instance, if you go to sleep with a question on your mind, many times you wake up with the answer – hence the term “sleep on it”.

      Another tip (this might be hard to do, though): try to avoid using cell phones, e-readers etc. right before you go to sleep, because this keeps the brain too active and sometimes you wake up during the night.

      Remember, it is a blessing to be able to sleep.

      Judy

  • Great review of why our brain needs sleep! I’ve written on something similar with my website, except my niche is about high blood pressure. Lack of sleep not only is bad for your brain, but also your heart!
    What do you think about taking natural supplements like melatonin to try to restore normal sleep patterns? I’ve had friends who struggle with severe insomnia and they are desperate for ways to be able to get to sleep.
    Also, do you think it is possible to get too much sleep?
    Thanks for an awesome article!
    Sam

    • Hi Sam,

      Thanks for visiting my site. Regarding melatonin as a natural supplement, melatonin has been found to help promote natural sleep patterns, but should be used as directed. I do not have any personal experience with it because I do not have a sleep problem, but research supports the fact that it does help. However, it should not be given to children, especially boys, and should not be taken during the day because it causes drowsiness. I would recommend taking a look at Natures Sunshine Products for the ingredients in their Melatonin. http://judyshealthstore.mynsp.com.

      You asked about too much sleep. I believe that it is possible to get too much sleep, but it is sometimes a sign of another ailment, one of which could be depression. Hope this helps.

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