The Importance of Sleep

By Kaylor Jones

woman sleeping

On average, adults need upwards of seven hours of sleep each night, but many, especially college students, have difficulty meeting that benchmark. While poor sleeping habits may seem sustainable to some younger adults, they can establish a cycle that is difficult to break later in life and oftentimes leads to lasting damage. Sleep is an essential element of good health, and skimping on snooze time can have big ramifications on the body and mind during the waking hours.

Removal of Toxins

Researchers have claimed that during sleep, the brain cleans harmful toxins and waste products that gathered between brain cells throughout the day. The flow of cerebrospinal fluid to the brain drastically increases during sleep in order to wash these waste proteins away, a process which requires too much energy to effectively carry out while the brain is preoccupied during the day. If you can’t think straight after a restless night, it may be due in part to a lack of adequate time to flush these toxic materials out of the brain.

Memory Consolidation

During sleep, the brain forms new neural pathways that are essential to processing and remembering the information gained throughout the previous day. This means that pulling all-nighters to study for a text the next morning may not be as effective as some perceive it to be. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep also has profound effects on procedural memory, or, to put it simply, how to do things. Studies have demonstrated that REM deprivation can inhibit the consolidation of memories regarding complex processes. Sleep is an important part of the process of remembering the information you gain throughout the day, so a good night’s rest after a lecture or two may be the key to improving your subject memory.

Damage Repair

While asleep, the body releases hormones that help repair damage caused throughout the day, whether it be from stress, UV rays, muscle and joint damage and more. Missing out on this biological upkeep can lead to short-term health risks and illnesses. Poor sleep can weaken the immune system and increase the likelihood of contracting sicknesses, as well as increase the recovery time. Blood pressure goes down during sleep as well, giving heart and blood vessels a rest. The less sleep gained during the night, the more time a person’s blood pressure stays up during a 24-hour period, potentially harming one’s cardiovascular health.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.