Why do we need sleep?
Sleep helps the body restore and rejuvenate in many different ways including:
Memory, Learning and Social Processes – Sleep enables the brain to encode new information and store it properly. REM sleep activates the parts of the brain that control learning. The parts of the brain that control emotions, decision-making and social interactions slow down dramatically during sleep, allowing optimal performance when awake.
Nervous System – Some sleep experts suggest that neurons used during the day repair themselves during sleep. When we experience sleep deprivation, neurons become unable to perform effectively and the nervous system is impaired.
Immune System – Similarly, sleep also enables the immune system to function effectively. During deep sleep, the body’s cells increase production while proteins break down at a slower rate. Without proper sleep, the immune system becomes weak and the body becomes more vulnerable to infection and disease.
Growth and Development – Children need much more sleep than adults. Growth hormones are released during sleep, so sleep is vital to proper physical and mental development. The effects (positive and negative) of sleep for babies and children are magnified. Tired children are often cranky, fussy and become easily frustrated and difficult. It is often easier for adults to interpret and remedy the effects of tiredness in children than for them to listen to their body’s own signals for more rest.