As we all know, almost one third of a person’s life is spent on sleep. In a fast-developing time, it seems wasteful to have an eight hours’ sleep a day. Some people may ask, since it is so, why not reduce the amount of sleep? Absolutely, the answer is no. We can’t curtail our sleep as we wish because inadequate sleep has serious short and long-term health consequences.
Short term consequences of insufficient sleep include poorer memory, deficits in information processing and problem with attention and impulse control. Depression, anxiety and poor self-esteem are also by-products of inadequate sleep.
Long-term consequences of chronic insufficient sleep must not be neglected, neither. Insufficient sleep in childhood and adolescent has been linked with later psychological problems such as suicidal thoughts, substance abuse and the potential for increased body mass index and high cholesterol. In addition, insufficient sleep in adolescence may be associated with the rewiring of the prefrontal cortex in the brain and set up poor sleep habits that may persist into adulthood.
Then what are the benefits of getting enough sleep? Is sleeping just a waste of time? Of course not. Research shows that sleep may lead to increased knowledge or less forgetting, especially for kids with more time in deep, slow wave sleep. According a study conducted by Wilhelm I, children can remember and understand better after a good night’s sleep. In his research, he found out that children after a day of wakefulness could only complete half of the test he had taught them before, while children after a night of sleep performed perfectly. This study also tells us why staying up late will affect our efficiency.
Adequate sleep can also prevent you from chronic disease like cardiovascular disease (CVD). In one such large, population-based study, individuals who reported fewer than 6 hours of sleep had a 15% higher incidence of CVD compared to those who reported sleeping between 7-8 hours. Besides, adequate sleep has been associated with lower blood pressure in cross-sectional studies and smaller overall incidence of hypertension in population studies.
For ladies who love to be beautiful, getting fat may be a nightmare. In fact, besides eat less and exercise more, you can reduce the risk of obesity by having enough sleep. Statistics has shown that women who reported sleeping less than 6 hours per night over the course of 16 years gained significantly more weight compared to women that slept at least 7 hours. Conversely, for each additional hour of sleep an individual’s body mass index (BMI) decreases by 0.35 units.
Although most of us know full well the importance of adequate sleep, few people can suit the action to the words. Population-based studies estimate that one in three adults in the United States report sleeping fewer than 7 h per night. So what can we do about sleep deprivation?
School-based sleep education program should be developed. Knowledge acquisition can lead to positive behavioral change. If people are taught the importance of sleep in a young age, they will pay more attention to it.
Delay the school start time. The early school start time in combination with the biological delay in adolescents’ circadian rhythm is closely contributing to sleep deprivation among adolescent student. Later school start time is a great way to improve the student’s efficiency.
Getting enough sleep means a lot. It can get you out of bad mood, prevent you from terrible disease and keep you fit. However, our sleep status is not good enough. We should take actions like delay the school start time and develop sleep education to improve it.
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