Did you know that studies have been done that demonstrate that humans can only go without sleep for between eight and eleven days? In fact, United States military studies indicate that a lack of sleep after this maximum period can result in such severe physical and psychological damage that it can result in death. Fortunately, most of us would simply fall asleep due to exhaustion after only a few days!
Interestingly, science is really only just discovering why we need sleep at all. For decades there has been no clear answer to the question of why humans need sleep, since it seems that we should be able to function without it. Clearly, though, sleep seems to be a fact of animal life, since every bird, mammal, and reptile has regular sleep periods.
One recent discovery strongly suggests that sleep is a fairly active time period for parts of our brains. It seems that our brains also contain a microscopic drainage system that is activated during our sleep cycles. This drainage system flushes away by-products from this mysterious organ. Sleep also seems important for the formation of memories, as some of the information stored in the short term memory seems to be transitioned to the long term memory during sleep. The mechanisms, however, are still unclear, but the conclusion is that we certainly do need regular sleep! It seems that the importance of sleep is about more than just dreaming!
Life without Sleep
What if we aren’t getting enough sleep? The latest findings show that over half of the population functions on less than optimal amounts of sleep and is considered sleep deprived. Here are some of the problems that a lack of sleep can cause:
- Concentration: Even a single night of disturbed and interrupted sleep can have a significant impact on our ability to focus and concentrate on tasks. Many studies have been conducted where sleep-deprived people were given a simple test to complete. They fared much worse than the control group of people who had experienced plenty of sleep the night before!
- Driving: Sleep deprivation can have serious physical and psychological consequences. For those of us who commonly commute to work, this is bad news. Sleep-deprived drivers not only have more trouble concentrating on the road, but also have impaired reflexes. Furthermore, if you are regularly sleep-deprived you may find yourself nodding off or experiencing micro-sleep events behind the wheel.
Getting More Sleep
The good news is that a significant number of people who suffer from regular sleep deprivation can be helped by a simple change. Many people experience a bad night of sleep because the mattress they are sleeping on is just not adequate. It may be too old and weary, too soft for their body type, too hot, or simply uncomfortable.
Changing your mattress, and even your pillow, can quickly result in a better night of sleep. Our mattresses have a lifespan, and if yours has just about reached its end, you need to go out and get yourself a new one! It could also be that your mattress is just not the right type for your body shape and your preferences. Whatever the case, talking to an expert about what kind of mattress you should invest in could do wonders for your sleep!