Why Sleep is Important to Public Health
Sleep is essential to our health and it has multiple connections to our physical and mental well-being. Sleep plays a major role in restoring chemical balance in our bodies, maintaining optimal levels of hormones, and preparing our brains for the next day. It also has significant effects on memory and brain function.
Many people think that sleep is a passive process, but it is a complex biological process. Our bodies are constantly receiving and processing information as we go about our daily activities. The amount of sleep we need varies, but it is generally determined by the way we feel during the day. If we get too little or too much sleep, it can affect our cognitive ability and mood. This lack of sleep can contribute to many problems, including fatigue, heart disease, stroke, depression, and obesity.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends seven to eight hours of sleep per night, with at least three hours of rest at night. People who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be irritable and emotionally volatile. They are also more likely to make risky financial decisions. Lack of sleep can also affect the immune system and decrease your ability to focus. A person who does not get enough sleep is more susceptible to catching colds and infections.
Sleep is a vital part of growth and development during childhood and adolescence. Children spend a lot of time in Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep, which increases tissue growth and blood supply to muscles. Deep sleep, on the other hand, helps the body repair damage. During deep sleep, our bodies synthesize proteins. These proteins are then recycled in our glymphatic systems, which are like the city’s sewage system.
Research shows that a good night’s sleep improves cognitive function, reduces stress, and increases concentration and problem-solving abilities. A person who is tired may have lower energy, be more prone to making risky financial decisions, and be more irritable. Also, a lack of sleep can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative brain diseases.
Although the importance of sleep is widely recognized, more research is needed to understand how it impacts public health. In addition, more emphasis should be placed on the role of sleep in clinical and public health practice, in school and work settings, and in inpatient care.
Those who are employed in the medical field are especially at risk for sleep deprivation. Night shift workers often disrupt the body’s circadian rhythms. Studies have shown that individuals who have interrupted their regular sleep patterns have a greater chance of developing cancer. Additionally, a recent study from Israel revealed that medical residents who were sleep-deprived were more likely to experience negative emotions, resulting in a higher arousal level and more emotional turmoil.
Many adults also experience hormonal fluctuations, such as menopause, which can interfere with their sleep. Hormones that are not fully metabolized during the day can be stored in the liver, causing mental and physical problems. Premenstrual syndrome, hot flashes, and even arthritis can affect the body’s ability to rest.