Sleep And Its Role In Maintaining Health

Sleep is a vital component of good health. In fact it is as important to your health as diet and nutrition. It is important for the body and the mind to function properly throughout the day and it protects the quality of life. The right amount and right quality of sleep improves memory, behavior, attention and overall mental and physical health. The amount of sleep required by the body changes with an advancing age. For example for a newborn baby 16-18 hours of sleep per day is recommended whereas for an adult 7-8 hours of sleep per day is recommended. Sleep is divided into two basic types, rapid eye movement sleep and non-rapid eye movement sleep. Each type goes through different stages.

  • Non- Rapid eye movement sleep – The sleep begins with the non-rapid eye movement sleep which begins with a sleep that can be awakened easily by noise and other disturbances. In this stage, the heart and the breathing rate begin to slow with eyes moving slowly and relaxed muscles. In the second stage, the brain waves become slow and no eye movements occur. The third stage of sleep is a deep state in which it is difficult to be awakened. Basically, the waves of the brain and the heart rate becomes more slower and the muscles are relaxed.
  • Rapid Eye movement sleep – This is the unique phase of the sleep in which the eyes move in the different directions, even though the eyelids are closed. In this type of sleep, the heart rate and the blood pressure increases and the breathing becomes irregular and rapid. Dreaming begins in rapid eye movement sleep and it is thought that during this type of sleep the legs and the arms muscles are temporarily paralyzed. Also, the rapid eye movement sleep increases the activity of the brain region to learn and making memories.

Sleep has many health benefits such as it reduces stress, helps in maintaining weight, and can make you look more beautiful as well. Sleep plays a role in regulating the exposure to stress and its effects. Stress is closely related to the impaired sleep and a good amount of sleep can help you reduce the symptoms of stress. Stress is highly linked with several chronic diseases and by reducing the effects of stress from life, sleep is beneficial in reducing the risk of several diseases. Insomnia which is one of the sleep disorders can be caused due to stress as stress makes it difficult for a person to fall asleep or to stay asleep.

Also Read: Do You Know That Anxiety Can Be Dangerous?

Multiple theories have explained the role of sleep in the growth and the repair of the body. The restorative function of sleep releases hormones that play predominant anabolic function such as the growth of hormones that are associated with the brain state and the state of consciousness in which a person is engaged in cognitive and behavioral responses. A good night sleep is required to form the pathways in the brain for new learnings and memories. It is not only required to form a pathway but it is also necessary for the pathway to function properly. Lack of sleep affects the thinking process and hence makes it harder for a person to concentrate on things properly. Lack of sleep also triggers the production of various hormones and causes abnormalities in their functioning. Sleep deprivation has a serious impact on the quality of life and on the organs of the body. Numerous researchers have suggested that there are more than 80 different types of sleep disorders and millions of people are affected by these disorders. Some of the common sleep disorders include:

1. Insomnia

Insomnia is a most common sleep disorder and it is a condition when it is hard for a person to get to sleep or to stay asleep. Occasional bouts of insomnia are experienced by many people and one in every ten suffer from chronic insomnia. It can be short term or long term and tired, irritability, problems with concentration and problems with memory are some symptoms of insomnia. primary insomnia, and comorbid insomnia are two types of Insomnia. Primary insomnia involves sleep problems that are not associated with any health problem. Whereas, comorbid insomnia involves sleep problems that are associated with health issues, pain, or due to medicine.

2. Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a chronic sleep disorder in which a person’s breathing is interrupted while sleeping. Snoring, daytime sleepiness, tiredness, dry mouth, sudden awakenings and restlessness during sleep are some of the symptoms of sleep apnea. Obstructive and central apnea are two types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a caused due to the complete or partial airways blockage. Central sleep apnea is caused when the brain fails to signals the muscles to breathe. Those who suffer from central sleep apnea often experience insomnia and recurrent awakenings.  

3. Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder in which people feel more sleepy, more often but have disrupted sleep as well. Those who suffer from narcolepsy experiences excessive daytime sleepiness. Reduced amount of hypocretin in the specific part of the brain is said to be the cause of this sleep disorder. Some other symptoms of narcolepsy include sleep paralysis, sleep related hallucinations and muscle weakness.

The importance of sleep should be known to everyone as it plays a vital role in maintaining good health. Share this post with your family and friends and create awareness. Stay Safe, Stay Healthy!!

Photo of author

Jim Carson

Jim Carson is the writer for the mental health section of He is certified in clinical mental health counselling and has conducted cognitive behaviour therapy for war veterans struggling with PTSD. Professionally and personally, Jim is an astute observer of human behaviour that reflects well in his work.