FIP – Why do we sleep?

This week we are learning about sleep, as in how it affects our brains and ultimately how we function and get through the day with or without it.  We were given a TED Talks video to watch titled “Why do we sleep?” in which Russell Foster gave three possible theories of what in our daily lives is affected the most by sleep and what purpose does sleep have.

Out of the three theories, I mostly agree with the third one he presented, which included information processing, memory building, and learning (functions of the brain).  Many statistics have shown that those who are sleep deprived also tend to suffer from a considerable amount of stress.  A lack of sleep can add to this stress by making it hard to concentrate and remember things throughout the day.  This could easily make someone want to resort to caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and/or harmful drugs.  Another negative effect for a loss of sleep is excessive weight gain.  Lack of sleep has also been linked with either the cause of or adding to the severity of mental illnesses.  Russell Foster explained how a lack of sleep does not only affect your daily functions, but it affects your long-term well-being.

Personally, my sleep habits tend to change throughout the year.  Sometimes I can get my body on a good sleep schedule and manage to get enough sleep throughout the week.  Of course, there are many times when I stay up too late working on homework and only end up getting about 6 hours of sleep those nights.  Overall, I could definitely try to get into bed earlier, put down my electronics and hopefully fall asleep at a more decent time than I usually do.

If I were to set a realistic goal for the amount of sleep (in hours) that college kids should be getting every night, I would say about 8 hours.  In my opinion, this would be enough sleep for students to wake up feeling refreshed, yet still giving them enough time for homework or other activities to do throughout the day.  Of course, it would be a miracle if college students got enough sleep each night, but we can dream.

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3 thoughts on “FIP – Why do we sleep?

  1. Sleep is definitely a major component on how we function throughout the day. I agree with you that a lack of sleep does make it harder for a person to focus which consequently affects how they perform on daily activities. A lack of sleep as well does cause more stress on a person which in turn can lead them to have an unbalanced emtional state as well as negative effects on cognitive abilities. With a lack of sleep a person has a harder time making decisions as well as simply staying awake no matter how hard their body tries. People who constantly suffer from sleep deprivation can start suffering from chronic illness later on. In class, we talked about how people who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation take micronaps, meaning they fall asleep for instances without even realizing it. Micronaps are an example of the bodies inability to stay awake and a way to recuperate the body from a lack of sleep. Sleep is important because each night our body undergoes restoration and without it we can face many long-term problems down the road.

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  2. Hello!
    I really enjoyed reading your post! I also think Foster’s third theory about information processing was most convincing.
    In your post you mentioned the importance of getting our bodies on a good sleeping schedule. This is an important part of our functioning and this cycle is known as our Circadian Rhythm. Our circadian rhythm manages our 24 hour sleep/wake cycle. This cycle can be disturbed by environmental factors. You talked about putting down the electronics before going to bed. This is a very good idea since the blue light from the screen can alter our cycle.
    As college students, it is very hard for us to get the proper amount of sleep but it is absolutely essential! As we discussed in class, during sleep, brain maintenance and physical recuperation occur. In stage 3, brain activity occurs in pulses and it is believed that brain maintenance occurs during this time. During stage 4, we recuperate physically and when we do not get enough sleep, we do not spend enough time in stage 4 sleep and feel physically deteriorated the next morning.
    You made great points in your post and now we know some more information about sleep and why it is essential.

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  3. I can relate to your sleeping habits. We try to be good and get enough sleep, like we know we should, but it doesn’t always pan out that way. As you said, “We can dream.” Although 8 hours is always thrown out as how long a person should sleep, it’s actually only an average. That number will vary by individual, which could be more or less than 8 hours. For example, 6 hours could even be optimal for someone. If you feel that is not enough for you, however, managing your time differently, cutting back your schedule a bit (if possible), or following some of the tips about how to get to sleep easier (e.g., no screens 30 minutes before bed) could help you reach the number of hours that works best for you.

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