Archive for the ‘Sleep…precious Sleep.’ Category

ZZZzzz … Isn’t sleep such an enjoyable thing to do? Most of our days on this earth is spent on sleeping. Why is sleep then so so important? Insomnia is deemed by many as a unbearable torture!! I can’t sleep. Have we thought of making sleep as a habit? Perhaps, many of us are already practicing it.

So what is sleep and why are we into it in such a big time? In Wikipedia “SLEEP” means –

Sleep is the state of natural rest observed in humans and throughout the animal kingdom, in all mammals and birds, and in many reptiles, amphibians, and fish.

In humans, other mammals, and many other animals that have been studied – such as fish, birds, mice, ants, and fruit-flies – regular sleep is necessary for survival. The capability for arousal from sleep is a protective mechanism and also necessary for health and survival.

Let’s take a look at the function of sleep. What do we gain from having this ritual that we call “sleep”?


Sleep may be a dynamic time of healing and growth for organisms. For example, during stages 3 and 4, or slow-wave sleep, growth hormone levels increase, and immune function changes. In some studies, sleep deprivation led to decrements in immune function, and extreme, extended deprivation to altered metabolism.[citation needed] But sleep deprivation has not been conclusively shown to significantly impact organ, muscular, cardiac or other somatic function in ways that suggest that any of these systems are primarily influenced by sleep.

Anabolic/catabolic cycle

Non-REM sleep may be an anabolic state marked by physiological processes of growth and rejuvenation of the organism’s immune, nervous, muscular, and skeletal systems (but see above). Sleep might restore neurons and increase production of brain proteins and certain hormones. Wakefulness may perhaps be viewed as a cyclical, temporary, hyperactive catabolicawaken?” instead of “Why do we sleep?” yields a different perspective of how sleep and its stages contribute to a healthy organism. state during which the organism acquires nourishment and procreates. Also, during sleep, an organism is vulnerable; when awake it may perceive and avoid threats. Asking “Why do we


According to the ontogenetic hypothesis of REM sleep, the activity occurring during neonatal REM sleep (or active sleep) seems to be particularly important to the developing organism (Marks et al., 1995). Studies investigating the effects of deprivation of active sleep have shown that deprivation early in life can result in behavioral problems, permanent sleep disruption, decreased brain mass (Mirmiran et al. 1983), and an abnormal amount of neuronal cell death (Morrissey, Duntley & Anch, 2004).

Memory processing

Many scientists believe that memory depends on sleep. REM sleep appears to help the consolidation of spatial and procedural memory, while slow-wave sleep helps with the consolidation of declarative memories. When experimental subjects are asked to memorize academic material, especially if it involves organized, systematic thought, their retention is markedly increased after a night’s sleep. On the other hand, the effectiveness of mere rote memorization is similar with or without an intervening period of sleep. Some memory theorists argue that saving memory directly into long-term memory is a slow and error-prone process, and propose that cerebral input is first saved in a temporary memory store, and then encoded and transferred into long-term memory during sleep (Zhang, 2004). But although many findings support these ideas, many sleep scientists do not believe that sleep’s primary function is related to memory. They point out that many of the studies cited by proponents of this theory are contradictory or confounded by the side-effects caused by the experimental manipulations. A more salient issue is that only a handful of studies have shown that sleep actually influences brain plasticity, the mechanism underlying remembering and forgetting (Benington and Frank, 2003).


One view, “Preservation and Protection”, is that sleep serves an adaptive function. It protects the individual during that portion of the 24-hour day in which being awake, and hence roaming around, would place the individual at greatest risk. Organisms do not require 24 hours to feed themselves and meet other necessities. From this perspective of adaptation, organisms are safer by staying out of harm’s way where potentially they could be prey to other stronger organisms. They sleep at times that maximize their safety, given their physical capacities and their habitats. (Allison & Cicchetti, 1976; Webb, 1982).

But this theory does not explain why the brain disengages from the external environment during normal sleep. A more advantageous adaptation for animals would be to seclude themselves but remain quietly awake to avoid predation. In fact, animals who are preyed upon usually disengage from the external environment to a lesser degree. Another argument against the theory is that sleep is not simply a passive consequence of removing the animal from the environment, but is a “drive”: animals alter their behaviors in order to obtain sleep. Therefore, circadian regulation is more than sufficient to explain periods of activity and quiescence that are adaptive to an organism, but the more peculiar specializations of sleep probably serve different and unknown functions.

These theories are not mutually exclusive; each may contain truths that may be validated in the future. Recent studies show that sleep is phylogenetically ancient (Shaw et al Science 2000, Hendricks et al Neuron 2000). Thus, to understand the function of sleep, we must study simple animals that predated arthropoda and chordata phyla, as well as the roles of proteins and enzymes in basic metabolism. Some sleep features are unique to mammals (e.g. REM sleep and thermoregulation) and so probably did not occur in sleep-like states of primordial metazoa.

Let’s forget the complex jargons and stuff. We all need and want sleep. How do we get it without encounter difficulty. Simply put…the following tips may just help you sleep better.
1.Sleep only when you’re sleepy
….This reduces the time you are awake in bed.

2.If you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something boring until you feel sleepy
……Sit quietly in the dark or read the warranty on your refrigerator. Don’t expose yourself to bright light while you are up. The light gives cues to your brain that it is time to wake up.

3.Don’t take naps
……This will ensure you are tired at bedtime. If you just can’t make it through the day without a nap, sleep less than one hour, before 3 pm.

4.Get up and go to bed the same time every day
…..Even on weekends! When your sleep cycle has a regular rhythm, you will feel better.

5.Refrain from exercise at least 4 hours before bedtime (sex not counted)
…..Regular exercise is recommended to help you sleep well, but the timing of the workout is important. Exercising in the morning or early afternoon will not interfere with sleep.

6.Develop sleep rituals
…..It is important to give your body cues that it is time to slow down and sleep. Listen to relaxing music, read something soothing for 15 minutes, have a cup of caffeine free tea, do relaxation exercises.

7.Only use your bed for sleeping and sex
…..Refrain from using your bed to watch TV, pay bills, do work or reading. So when you go to bed your body knows it is time to sleep (or have sex).

8.Stay away from caffeine, nicotine and alcohol at least 4-6 hours before bed
….Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Coffee, tea, cola, cocoa, chocolate and some prescription and non-prescription drugs contain caffeine. Cigarettes and some drugs contain nicotine. Alcohol may seem to help you sleep in the beginning as it slows brain activity, but you will end end up having fragmented sleep.

9.Have a light snack before bed
……If your stomach is too empty, that can interfere with sleep. However, if you eat a heavy meal before bedtime, that can interfere as well. Dairy products and turkey contain tryptophan, which acts as a natural sleep inducer. Tryptophan is probably why a warm glass of milk is sometimes recommended.

10.Take a hot bath 90 minutes before bedtime
…..A hot bath will raise your body temperature, but it is the drop in body temperature that may leave you feeling sleepy.

11.Make sure your bed and bedroom are quiet and comfortable
……A hot room can be uncomfortable. A cooler room along with enough blankets to stay warm is recommended. If light in the early morning bothers you, get a blackout shade or wear a slumber mask. If noise bothers you, wear earplugs.

12.Use sunlight to set your biological clock
…….As soon as you get up in the morning, go outside and turn your face to the sun for 15 minutes.

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