There are many theories as to why we sleep. The repair and restoration theory hypothesizes that the reason we sleep is to revitalize and restore the physiological process, to keep the body and the mind healthy and properly functioning.
There is an evolutionary Theory of Sleep, which states that during the younger years of our species, we adapted to sleeping during times that being awake would be hazardous. We would sleep to avoid being eaten by predators.
The Information Consolidation Theory of Sleep theorizes that people sleep to process information. The theory is essentially the brain processes and stores everything you learn throughout the day and the day before. Sleep helps you cement these things into your long term memory, and prepare you to learn for the next day.
Those are the big three, and it can be any of those or all three, but its a concept that can't really be explained because we have no grasp of it when we are asleep. What we do have a grasp on, however, is the effects of sleep and the lack of it.
Its safe to say that almost everyone has experienced some sort of insomnia in their lives. Whether its from high stress from adult life or being excited for something, we have all found ourselves lying awake at night and tossing and turning. Sleep deprivation will affect you immensely. According to the National Sleep Foundation, most people require 7 to 9 hours of sleep to function optimally.
When you are sleep-deprived, the immediate symptom you feel is reduction of energy, cognitive function, and glycogen that you need for daily events. After several consecutive days with little to no sleep, you can suffer hallucinations or delusions which can have dire consequences. Other issues include your hormones changing as well as an increase the levels of cortisol, which slows down healing, increases risks of injury and diminishes memory. Prolonged sleep deficiency may cause heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and strokes.
Sleeping at the right times and having a balanced sleep schedule is very beneficial. Sleeping can protect mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory by a process called memory consolidation, according to a Harvard sleep study. In these studies, people who slept after learning a task did better when tested.
During sleep, hormones are produced that boost the repair of muscle mass, cells, and tissues in children, teens, and adults. Sleep has a definite correlation with puberty and fertility. You will generally be in a better mood. There is a reason why people that did not get a good night of sleep seem more irritable, impatient, and unable to concentrate. Furthermore, drowsy drivers claim 1,500 lives and 100,000 motor vehicle crashes every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That reason alone shows the benefit of having a good sleep cycle.
Now to offer some tips to promote sleep that will help you stay in your Rapid Eye Movement cycle and keep your melatonin production up. Electronic light can affect your melatonin production (melatonin, a drug that helps with sleep regulation), sending messages to stay awake. Computer, television, smart phones, night lights, and room lights can affect this.
Keep your room cool, humans are more comfortable sleeping in a nice cool environment. Eat grains and other foods rich in complex carbohydrates right before bed, because Insulin and blood sugar increases your melatonin. Maintain a sleep pattern, your body has a biological clock if you sleep regularly from 10pm to 6am you will generally start feeling tired round 10 and wake up at 6.
This is actually something you can consciously control. Adrenocorticotropin is a hormone produced as your body's internal alarm clock, it releases several hours prior to waking up. That is why you may wake up a few minutes before your alarm clock at times. Sleep is one of this world's great wonders, no one really knows what it is even though we are in it for 1/3 of our lives. All we know is that it happens for a reason and that reason is beneficial to being an optimal human being.