The Importance of Sleep
From Science to Market
As living beings our bodies run according to a natural cycle, a large part of which is sleep. Underlying the actions of sleep and wakefulness is an intricate web of biorhythms that remain well fueled when the sleep-wake cycle is steadfast. The function of sleep is so critical and largely misunderstood, that an entire branch of medicine has been spawned to study human sleep and treat sleep disorders.
A major misconception about sleep is that your body and mind are at rest. Truth is your mind is very alive, very active as well as various systems of your body. The sleep cycle is comprised of two types of sleep, REM and non-REM. During the night you pass through an architecture of sleep stages nested within REM and non-REM, each of which fires distinct neurological functions.
The Circadian Rhythm is not your sleep cycle—it’s an entire life force dictated by time, season and episodes of light and dark. Your natural state of sleep is during the night, when it’s dark. If you think you can trick your body into changing that rhythm when you take a night shift job, think again. This rhythm drives whole species of mammals and plants; sets your biological clock and is the rhythm that allows plants and animals to anticipate seasons.
When Your Sleep Cycle is Disturbed
Research can prove, measurably, that when you lose sleep to interruption or you simply don’t allow yourself enough that you can adversely affect many aspects of your life. If you’ve ever suffered insomnia or any measure of sleep disturbance, even pulled an all-nighter in college or stayed out late at a party, you know first hand the impediments to performance and productivity the following day. That’s just part of the problem. Chronic sleep disruption can cause:
- Progressive depression
- Motor function problems
- Irritability, aggression and severe mood swings
- Lack of concentration
- Lack of coordination, leading to accidents
- Chronic absenteeism and tardiness at work or school
- Dependence on sleep aids
- Use of legal and illegal stimulants
Sleep as an Industry
Just as an entire branch of medicine is devoted to sleep health, so to an entire industry is devoted to sleep. The list of sleep related products you can buy is endless, the volume of prescription sleep aids, over-the-counter sleep aids, and various related non-pharmacologic therapies all dedicated to helping you sleep, plus the services of the couple of thousand sleep labs scattered across the country, the technicians and the machinery used to treat some sleep disorders is a multi-billion dollar business: estimated at $76.7 billion by 2019, if you had any questions about the importance of sleep.