The Importance of Sleep

All living organisms have a 24-hour cycle in their physiological processes called circadian rhythm. In our case as human beings, the circadian rhythm is basically “running in the background of [our] brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It’s also known as [our] sleep/wake cycle.” (cf. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/what-circadian-rhythm) This is body wisdom–something which is non-thematic in operation and doesn’t have to be thought of to be effected. It is part and parcel of everything that naturally and spontaneously comes about within our biological network. In practically all instances, it is deemed important for the well-being of our psycho-physical condition to listen–and listen attentively–to what our body tells us. The body reacts to the environment and a sensitive individual knows when there is too much or too little of something. Failure to listen to body wisdom often leads to a risky, even detrimental, aftermath.

Taking sleep as something that basically belongs to the workings of body wisdom, we now live in a civilization where it seems like people, in general, have already become desensitized to the circadian rhythm. By and large, busy people in almost all walks of life have already set aside and deprioritized the importance of sleep. It is something we can postpone at the moment and reconsider at a later time. There are a lot of responsibilities to attend to. Too much pressure beating the deadline while engaged in a project. Reports being accomplished within a certain period of time and submitted on or before a specified date. Within the vortex of all these circumstances, we have already gotten to a point wherein sleep has become a matter of choice. In other words, we can choose to sleep or not to sleep.

The common notion that has developed through the years in the present era is that sleep robs us of the capability, creativity, and consistency required to be classified as an “ace performer” in whatever productive endeavor we have engaged ourselves in. In this sense, sleep is relegated to the sideline of insignificance. Sleep, while one is deeply involved in a make-or-break undertaking, is a negative factor that can affect the final outcome of such an undertaking. Hence, the unwritten law is, there is no room to slacken the pace and disrupt the momentum of an activity that has been going on until the last leg is finally achieved.

This scenario is further intensified by the presence of modern-day workaholics. These are performers whose velocity of movement to accomplish the tasks assigned to them has created an adverse environment. They don’t only disregard the importance of sleep but likewise the normal ingestion of health-sustaining nutrients and the physical exertions necessary to keep their bodies fit and strong. Sleep, in particular, is taken as tantamount to laziness, negligence, and apathy. If ever the circadian rhythm “accidentally” hits their head, a nap is good enough to satisfy an unnecessary call.

All this conditioning is an absolute desecration of the importance of sleep. The general principle that sustains the non-negotiable value of 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day to the conduct of a healthy human life stands firm and strong. According to research studies done in the UK and Italy, “[t]he healthy amount of sleep for the average adult is around seven to eight hours each night. . . . Those who generally slept for less than five to seven hours a night were 12 percent more likely to experience a premature death. People who slept more than eight or nine hours per night had an even higher risk — 30 percent.” (https://www.healthline.com/health/science-sleep-why-you-need-7-8-hours-night#live-longer)

Furthermore, studies on the benefits of getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep have yielded results diametrically opposed to the common workaholic notion that sleep decreases efficiency and creativity and thus detrimentally affects productivity. The truth of the matter is spelled out in the following (cf. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-reasons-why-good-sleep-is-important):
1. Poor sleep can make you fat.
2. Good sleepers tend to eat fewer calories.
3. Good sleep can improve concentration and productivity.
4. Good sleep can maximize athletic performance.
5. Poor sleepers have a great risk of heart disease and stroke.
6. Sleep affects glucose metabolism and type 2 diabetes.
7. Poor sleep is linked to depression.
8. Sleep improves your immune function.
9. Poor sleep is linked to increased inflammation.
10. Sleep affects emotions and social interactions.

In conclusion, there is really no sane way to controvert the importance of sleep as a major factor in leading and sustaining a healthy lifestyle. Along with good nutrition and consistent exercise, 7 to 8 hours of sleep is an inviolable linchpin of a life worth living.

(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 18 July 2019

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