“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our
Thomas Dekker (1572-1632)
SLEEP. A natural periodic state of rest for the mind and
body, in which the eyes usually close and consciousness is completely or
partially lost, there is a decrease in bodily movement, responsiveness to
external stimuli, an increased rate of anabolism (the synthesis of cell
structures),and a decreased rate of catabolism (the breakdown of cell
structures). Sleep is a time for the body‘s revitalization that helps meet the
demands of the waking hours.
Quantity of sleep
Different people sleep for different lengths of time. For some, 4 hours a night
is adequate to function normally. Others require as much as 10 hours each night.
The average is somewhere around 7 and a half hours.
Functions of sleep
While we sleep our pituitary gland releases large amounts of growth hormone.
This amount peaks at about one hour after falling asleep and gradually
decreases towards dawn. So, sleep seems to be a state marked by physiological
processes of growth and rejuvenation of the organism‘s immune, nervous,
muscular and skeletal systems. During sleep, the body‘s metabolic rate
decreases which allows it to preserve energy to support our busy lifestyle and
There is also evidence that sleep restores mental alertness
and memory. When you sleep, portions of your brain shutdown or lower their
activity rates. This is advantageous because your brain uses chemical neuro
transmitters to send messages along neurons. Sleep allows these
neurotransmitters to be replenished so you can think clearly and quickly. A
comparison might be to pouring new oil in a car to keep it running smoothly.
All-in-all sleep is necessary for physiological and mental
health. That is why the problems and damages of deprivation of sleep or the
missing relaxation in sleep are numerous and have far-reaching consequences.
Suffering from sleep disorder or a non-restorative sleep can bring about
multiple negative consequences: affected concentration and working capacities,
limited perception, indisposition, nervousness and fractiousness. In the
long-term sleep disorder can even lead to depression and hallucinations. Being
well rested and relaxed not only affects the subjective sense of well-being but
also the social capacity and strength, in the family, with friends and in