All About Sleep
Sleep makes you strong, makes you feel good. It is an important element of human flourishing and well-being, both subjectively and objectively. Sleep is necessary for a healthy and balanced life. Your body and your brain are active when you sleep. We need to sleep long enough (quantity) and well enough (quality) to function well during waking hours. Nearly all physiological and behavioral functions in humans occur on a rhythmic basis, which in turn leads to dramatic diurnal rhythms in human performance capabilities. Sleepdex is dedicated to raising awareness of sleep issues and encouraging people to take sleep seriously.
Most adults need around seven or eight hours of sleep every night to function well. Although many people claim they require less, doctors who study sleep find only 10% require significantly more or less sleep. A chronic lack of sleep and untreated sleep disorders may be factors in the development of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes.
"Sleep rock thy brain" – Shakespeare, Hamlet
Sleep is an active behavior. Your body and your brain are active when you sleep. Biochemical and neurobiological functions take place all night long. Contrary to popular belief, the brain does not "shut down" during sleep.
Why do we sleep? Why did Mother Nature make us need to sleep every night? There is no scientific consensus on the evolutionary reasons for sleep. It’s a mystery. But you can’t resist it for long. Sleep deficit can be cured only by getting some sleep.
Only in the past few decades have scientists begin to unravel the mysteries of sleep. During the 1950s investigators first documented rapid eye movement (REM) and started to describe the brain states that make up the stages of sleep.
Further investigation into basic neurobiology, behavioral and physiological emergent systems, and epidemiology revealed much about sleep. Advances are occurring at an unprecedented rate in the 21st century and scientists are learning more about sleep. Medications have been developed to help people sleep and the discovery of orexin neuropeptides in the 1990s may soon lead to a new class of sleep medicines.
Many mysteries remain. Scientists still have an inadequate understanding of the physiology of sleep and the pathology of sleep disorders. Further, although depression and neurodegenerative diseases are associated with abnormal sleep, nobody knows if there is a cause-and-effect in place, and if so, which way it runs.
Sleep for Health
Millions of people suffer from long-term sleep disorders, the occasional bad night’s sleep, and everything in between. There are dozens of sleep disorders, and many ways sleep interacts with other illnesses and wellness. Sleep is tied up with the immune system, which is why we tend to sleep more when ill.
About one-third of Americans have symptoms of insomnia but less than 20% of those cases are identified by their doctors. Sleep deficit has become one for the most pervasive health problems facing the United States. Insomnia, both primary and secondary, can result in car accidents and industrial mishaps. It reduces motor, mental, and cognitive functions affecting performance at home, work, and school.
Other common sleep disorders include apnea, chronic snoring, narcolepsy, and restless legs syndrome. There are dozens of sleep disorders of various levels of seriousness – parasomnias, dyssomnias, and more.
Even if you don't have a true sleep disorder, you can improve your sleep habits and enjoy the benefits of better sleep. Our list of sleep tips can start you on your way to better nights.
During sleep the body suppresses appetite. Why else would you be able to go so long without eating? It isn’t because you use fewer calories while asleep. You use about the same energy as when you are awake and resting, and everyone has found that just by lying around the house all day they still build up an appetite. There is a surge in growth hormone at night. And sleep disorders are tied up with obesity as both a cause and an effect.
Sleep for fun
We firmly believe that many people can enhance the qualities of their lives by appreciating and celebrating sleep. We want to recognize sleep as a pleasurable and inexpensive activity – an indulgence at times. Sleep is fun. Remember that.
"O Sleep, rest of all things, mildest of the gods, balm of the soul..."
(Iris to Hypnos. Ovid, Metamorphoses)