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How Important Is Sleep To Us?

John Barnes By John Barnes on
Badge: Author | Level: 2 | Other Health & Wellness Expertise:

The topic is sleep. I have placed it under 'health/wellness', and my study has proven it very important to your health! I was curious to find out more about sleep, considering that on average people spend 24 years of their life asleep! A few friends and I at University took turns limiting ourselves to certain amounts of sleep and we monitored the effects. We originally intended the 6 of us to take turns every Saturday night with each category, i.e. person 1 has 0 hours sleep, person 2 has 2 hours sleep and so forth, but realised that it was difficult to stay awake all night, yet easier to do so when we stayed awake together. We then revised our experiment so that every Saturday and Sunday night we all limited ourselves to the same amount of sleep, apart from the 0 hours sleep group, where the symptoms were obvious after one night without sleep. We went to bed with a few extra minutes than the allotted time, to give us time to fall asleep, and if anyone didn't get enough sleep, then their behaviour was omitted from the table. This method proved very effective as I could make sure nobody overslept. My foghorn saw to that! Here is my table of results:

10+ hours sleep: We awoke refreshed, and happy. Bags under the eyes appeared lighter, and smaller.

8/9 hours sleep: We awoke, and got up fairly quickly. A few yawns, and people grew tired at 9 and 10pm.

6/7 hours sleep: We awoke tired, and yawns were often present. Bags under the eyes were darker and more visible. Symptoms such as heavy eyelids, yawning, and irritability became increasingly apparent. Tiredness grew between 4 and 8pm.

3/4/5 hours sleep: Different symptoms were recorded. All had dark eye bags, yawned frequently, and were very irritable. Two people complained of being dizzy and light-headed, and another had bloodshot eyes. The majority couldn't concentrate for large periods of time, while a few had trouble performing simple tasks such as packing their bag, or buying bread and milk from the local shop. Tiredness lingered throughout the day, some fell asleep early afternoon, while the rest fell asleep between 6 and 8pm.

1/2 hours sleep: We awoke, and noticed a lack of symptoms until around 4pm, at which point tiredness and yawning became increasingly obvious. Many people fell asleep during mid afternoon of the second day.

0 hours sleep: After overcoming the inital urge to sleep the first night, most felt vibrantly awake until between 2 and 4pm of the next day, at which point we were overcome with the urge to sleep, and in 2 cases cannot remember what they did at that time, even after being told by others.

If you are wondering why each category is 2 hours of sleep apart from the previous one, it is because every 2 hours of sleep involves 1 REM cycle of deep sleep, thus nourishing your bodies need to rest. The truth is that people can develop habits where they have different sleeping patterns, and due to lifestyle and age some need slightly more sleep than others. I have a friend who gets 3 to 4 hours sleep on weekdays and then 16-20 hours sleep on the weekend, yet he often shows symptoms of tiredness and is very irritable. Lack of sleep will result in frequent yawning (which is actually the body's attempt to get more oxygen), irritability, bloodshot eyes, an inability to concentrate or perform menial tasks, and in extreme cases death. After researching on the internet, I found that the general opinion was that 8 hours sleep is the required amount. After looking at my experiment, i can see why. I believe that 6 hours is the least amount of sleep you should get, 8 hours is the standard amount you should be getting regularly, and 10 hours will allow you to recover, and leave you feeling refreshed, if you're very tired.