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How Sleep Affects the Body

Aurora, IL

Sleeping adequately is a cornerstone of both physical and mental well-being. Although exercise and healthy food are important, sleeping well can boost your productivity and mood. On the other hand, not getting enough sleep can have detrimental consequences, leading to decreased reaction time, worsened mood, and reduced immune capabilities.

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Regular sleep patterns are goldmines for health

Firstly, your brain gives off different types of brain waves depending on your current state. Gamma waves are the fastest brain waves and are issued during periods of intense concentration. Beta waves are created when you are active and alert, and alpha waves are made when you are relaxing but still awake. On the other hand, theta waves are produced during regular sleep and dreaming periods while delta waves are only made during deep sleep. Brain waves are measured in hertz (Hz), with gamma waves reaching speeds of 100 Hz, while delta waves stay in the 0.5-4 Hz range.

Sleep occurs in four different stages, broken up into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and non-REM sleep. The first stage is when you are transitioning from being awake to being asleep, often populated by alpha and theta waves. The second stage is when your body and mind are slowing down and letting you relax after a long day. People are most easily awoken from Stage 1 and 2. Stage 3, filled with delta waves, is deep sleep where your body and mind recover from the events of the day. In fact, your body often goes through important physical and mental repair during this stage. While the first 3 stages are non-REM, the 4th stage does contain rapid eye movement, commonly known as dreaming. During REM, your eyes will move rapidly, hence the name, and your brain activity levels will also return to those of when you are awake. When you are in a dream, all of your muscles are paralyzed barring your circulatory and respiratory muscles. REM sleep is important because it can help consolidate your memories and experiences of the previous day while also preparing your mind for the day to come.

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Teenagers today do not get enough sleep

Many studies show that teenagers today do not get the recommended amount of sleep every night due to a multitude of factors including stress, increased workload, and social media. Teens get seven to seven and a half hours of sleep per night, in comparison to the recommended nine to nine and a half hours. There are a myriad of negative consequences to losing sleep, including a weakened immune system, reduced cognitive abilities, decreased memory power, and an increased risk of diabetes. Getting enough sleep, on the other hand, could have the exact opposite effects: your mood might get better, your productivity would improve, your immune system would become better, and even your skin may look better.

Despite how difficult it can be to get enough sleep with today’s workload and stress, it is always important to try to sleep often and for the right amount of time. Even if you want to binge-watch that one show or finish that last paper, most of the time it’s a better idea to put it off for next morning, as you will feel more refreshed and energetic to tackle whatever it is that you need to finish. Making sure to sleep without interruptions is also important because each and every stage of sleep matters, whether it is REM sleep or light sleep. Overall, sleeping has immense benefits that improve one’s mental and physical well-being.

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