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  • Sneha Harshe

3 Things I did not know about sleep!

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

Sleep is often considered a sign of boredom, laziness, luxury or even lethargy. Think how would you react, if you see a student sleeping in your classroom, or a patient dozing off while you are talking to him. Our first reaction would be a sudden surge of anger or frustration assuming that the person is just not interested in what we are saying or doing for them.

The truth couldnt be further from this. Sleep is not luxury or comfort. It is a basic, fundamental biological need of life. Just as we need air, water and food to survive, having a good night's sleep is absolutely necessary for us to live like human beings. Here are 3 important things that most people dont know about sleep.

1) Sleep is not only needed, but is vital for our survival.

Think of sleep like a hotel around the time 5:30 to 6 PM every evening. If you see it from the outside, it will look deserted, calm and as if, completely devoid of activity. A peek inside will however show you a cacophony of activity, chefs working, waiters stacking dishes, busboys bustling with clean utensils, managers planning the evening menu, the whole place is actually a chaotic place. The same is the situation of our brain when we sleep. The brain is actually more active in sleep than when we are awake. During we sleep, the brain 1) processes all memories and events that occured in the day, and consolidates those memories by priority, 2) gets recharged on fuel and energy, 3) regulates hormonal cycles to prepare us for the next day, 4) gives some rest to heart, lungs and kidneys by slowing them down a bit and 5) gives us some rest by blocking some of our senses and putting us in deep sleep.

2) Sleep is not for our pleasure, but it is to keep us out of harm's way.

We just discussed what the brain does when we sleep. It is obvious, the brain wont be able to do a fraction of that work when we are awake. A simple reason for this being, our jobs, our tasks, our responsibilities will keep the brain busy throughout, not allowing it to take care of all these housekeeping in the daytime. Therefore, our sleep actually gives brain an opportunity to get our body up and ready for the next day, just like a mother reorganises her home when her children are out playing or in school.

3) Sleep is not a right, and cannot be taken for granted.

A common misconception about sleep is, anyone who works hard will get a good night's sleep. It is not true. Sleep depends on a lot of factors, our physical health, our body clock, our routines, our mental heatlh, presence of illnesses like depression, asthma, enuresis, and even old age! Hard working and exerting members of the community like farmers, laborers, porters can get sleep disturbances despite working very hard throughout the day. Just like we have to work to earn money, to remain fit, to get good marks, we have to work hard to have a healthy sleep habits.

To summarise, remember, sleep is a brain function. It is a proxy sign of our physical and mental health and illnesses like depression. Active efforts and constant healthcare can give us a good, healthy and satisfactory sleep.

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