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On Sleep


Sleep and health

It is now known and widely recognised that sleep plays a significant role in protecting a person’s physical and mental health, quality of life and safety. This is because, during sleep, the body works to support healthy brain functioning and maintenance of physical health, from supporting growth and development, to replenishing muscles, and proper hormonal functioning  Getting sufficient and good sleep is thus crucial in promoting good health and well-being throughout an individual's life.  There are also studies of the importance of sleep in particular circumstances, like that of pregnancy (Chang, Pien, Duntley, & Macones, 2010).


The immediate benefits of getting enough sleep on physical health are several. First, it facilitates the healing and repair of the heart and blood vessels. Secondly, it enhances healthy growth and development since during sleep; a hormone that supports normal growth in is released. Fourthly, getting enough sleep strengthens a person's memory by sharpening skills learned while the person was awake. A new idea can also be well absorbed after sleeping.


Sleep and quality of life

Some researchers also associate the quality of sleep to a person’s lifespan. It is, therefore, also argued that too much or too little sleep is linked to a shorter lifespan. (Loss, 1997). A person who gets enough sleep hence has a higher chance of living better and longer.


Sleep and weight

Those who sleep well also have healthier weights than sleep deprived individuals. The idea of keeping fit by losing weight in persons who are overweight particularly works perfectly here if the persons in question maintained a constant sleeping pattern. Good sleep maintains a healthy hormonal balance that makes one feel full or hungry.  More fat and muscle is lost by getting enough rest because sleep and metabolism are controlled by sections of the brain when it is at rest.


Finally, on the advantages of sleep on physical health, sleep plays a vital role in supporting the functioning of the immune system. The immune system functions properly by fighting against harmful substances when a person gets a good amount of sleep. From studies, it is also evident that having a good sleep enhances learning, problem-solving skills, and creativity.


Sleep deprivation in children

Sleep-deprived children are reported to experience problems in getting along with others in school because of feelings of anger, sadness, and mood swings. They often perform poorly due to lack of motivation and failure to pay attention in class. A good night's sleep, therefore, helps the brain function properly by helping a person learn and remember information. Furthermore, having enough sleep sharpens an individual's attention. Kids, in particular, are more likely to develop ADHD symptoms. These kids have been observed to be hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive. Their peers on the other hand who get sufficient amounts of sleep are more attentive and less impulsive and report to perform better in grades.


Sleep deprivation is described as a state of lacking enough sleep. A person is regarded as sleep deprived if they get less sleep than they need to feel awake and alert (Baglioni, Spiegelhalder, Lombardo, & Riemann, 2010). This condition can either be acute or chronic.  According to researchers, a person may be physically or psychologically damaged due to lack of enough sleep. Fatigue, weight loss or weight gain, daytime sleepiness, and clumsiness are all caused by a chronic sleep-restricted state. Additionally, the brain and cognitive function, deficits in attention and working memory, as well as chronic illnesses such as diabetes are also psychological effects of sleep deprivation. It adversely affects the functioning of the brain. Sleep deprivation can, on the contrary, lead to an increase in energy levels in human bodies, alertness, and enhanced mood.


Studies have confirmed that people who experience short-term sleep restriction have an increased likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes because they process glucose more slowly than people who receive 8 hours of sleep. Furthermore, the brain of a sleep-deprived person has to work for extra hours than that of an average non-sleep-deprived person so as to accomplish a certain activity. This follows the fact that regions of the brain supporting mental faculties like working memory, logical and practical reasoning display more activity in persons who get enough sleep. So basically, brains of sleep-deprived persons try to compensate for effects of sleep deprivation by working harder for longer.  Finally, studies reveal that problems of weight gain such as obesity may be caused by decreased hours of sleep by people. This is linked to the argument that short-term sleep hormones that regulate the metabolism of glucose and appetite. There are a number of strategies that can be used in counteracting the effects of sleep deprivation. Such include the use of caffeine, prophylactic sleep before deprivation, and increasing nightly sleep time. (Vgontzas, & Kales, 1999)


Sleep deprivation has an effect of increasing negative mood and decreasing positive mood. A person who is deprived of sleep is likely to feel more irritable, angry, mentally exhausted, and hostile. S/he may become more irritable, short-tempered, and vulnerable to stress. Such an individual is more likely to react negatively when things do not go well for them compared to someone who gets sleep enough. This negative mood and attitude towards things for breastfeeding mothers can be scientifically explained by increased activity in the integral structure of the brain that regulates experiences of negative emotions such as anger (amygdane), and the decreased ability to regulate that anger. (Borbély, Baumann, Brandeis, Strauch, & Lehmann, 1981) A disconnection between the amygdale and the area of the brain that regulates emotions thus brings about the negative mood that sleeps deprived breastfeeding mother experiences. Additionally, mood and mental states also affect sleep. A feeling of anxiety increases levels of agitation and arousal making it hard for such a woman to sleep. Stress also makes it difficult for her to sleep because she stressed up body remains aroused, awake, and alert. An individual who is in constant anger and stress, therefore, tends to have sleep problems especially if s/he has abnormally exaggerated responses to stress. (Pilcher, & Huffcutt, 1996)

On the contrary, sleep deprivation may also contribute to insomnia and psychological problems. Anger due to lack of sleep often results in a depression in individuals who fail to seek assistance regarding their causes of anger. So, such depressed persons often have trouble sleeping, and without earlier treatment, psychological problems such as chronic insomnia may result from such abnormal sleeping patterns leading to mood disorders.



A breastfeeding mother who has trouble getting enough sleep due to depression, anxiousness, or feelings of being less emotionally responsive may try out some techniques personally so as to improve the condition. She may, for instance, monitor their sleep habits and look for steps of improving their quantity and quality of sleep. Additionally, seeking behavioral interventions and assessments for sleep or mood disorder from therapists may help improve on a person's habit of sleeping. (Chang, Pien, Duntley, & Macones, 2010). Taking measures of ensuring adequate sleep leads to improved mood and general good being, because once a person sleeps well, their mood often returns to normal. Examples of good sleeping habits that could be adopted include maintaining a regular sleep schedule; making few changes to sleep habits despite life's hurdles that come on a person's way of achieving a perfect sleep; and eliminating lots of minor sleep problems through creation of a comfortable sleeping environment, keeping a healthful nutrition balance and exercise, and engaging in relaxing activities when she is about to sleep.


Baglioni, C., Spiegelhalder, K., Lombardo, C., & Riemann, D. (2010). Sleep and emotions: a focus on insomnia. Sleep medicine reviews, 14(4), 227-238.

Chang, J. J., Pien, G. W., Duntley, S. P., & Macones, G. A. (2010). Sleep deprivation during pregnancy and maternal and fetal outcomes: is there a relationship?. Sleep medicine reviews, 14(2), 107-114.

Vgontzas, MD, A. N., & Kales, MD, A. (1999). Sleep and its disorders.Annual review of medicine, 50(1), 387-400.

Loss, S. (1997). Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next evening. Sleep, 20(10), 865-870.

Pilcher, J. J., & Huffcutt, A. J. (1996). Effects of sleep deprivation on performance: a meta-analysis. Sleep: Journal of Sleep Research & Sleep Medicine.

Borbély, A. A., Baumann, F., Brandeis, D., Strauch, I., & Lehmann, D. (1981). Sleep deprivation: effect on sleep stages and EEG power density in man. Electroencephalography and clinical neurophysiology, 51(5), 483-493.


Lack of sleep is related to type 2 diabetes, conorory heart disease, cancer and the list goes on.  Whislt it was previously thought that sleep deprivation and probelms sleeping in general followed these conditions, it is now known the lack of sleep CAUSES them.  If it is possible that it causes such dseases, it is also possible that it causes the phenomenon of BAA.


Sleep and depression Dr. Jason Ellis is the Director of the Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research.


Are there any predisposing characteristics - something inside individuals which makes trhme more vulnerable.(biological)



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