Sleeping is what keeps us alive. Sleeping allows us to recuperate and get us ready for the next day. We need it so that we can, think, move and do what we do. Sleep has a couple stages, a lack of sleep can cause many issues and gets heavily affected by our favorites, caffeine and alcohol.

Stages of Sleep

To start, let’s establish the 2 major stages of sleep, rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and Non Rapid Eye Movement (N REM) are both major and important parts of your sleep cycle. Starting with N REM, there are actually 3 stages to non REM sleep. Stage 1 is the transition from being awake to falling asleep, stage 2 is when you are in your light sleep state. During this stage, your breathing calms and your heart rate slows. Muscles loosen and your brain activity also slows down. The third stage is when you are in a deep sleep. This stage often happens right after your light sleep. Your heart rate and breathing are the slowest during this phase, and you become harder to get woken up. Also, your memories of the day are stored during this stage. During REM sleep, your pupils twitch and move quickly under your eyelid. Brain activity rises, you start to breathe faster and your heart rate increases. During this stage, dreams often occur. Sometimes, your body paralyzes some limbs so you don’t act out your dream. Memories are also stored during REM sleep.   

Effects of Sleep

Did you know that we need sleep before studying or learning to prepare the brain? Without sleep, it is very difficult to absorb new information. Getting an insufficient amount of sleep can lead to a 40% decrease in learning capabilities. Along with this, sleep deprivation can cause memory loss which makes learning even more difficult not to mention just forgetting things can be super annoying. A major issue that not many know about is that loss of sleep causes cardiovascular issues. A study shows that during daylight saving time in Spring. The following day people lose their 1 hour of sleep, the percentage in heart attacks increases by around 25%. And the time shift in Fall, the following day people get their extra hour of sleep, the percentage in heart attacks decreases by about 20%. The less you sleep, the shorter your life. 

Caffeine and Alcohol

It’s common knowledge that caffeine keeps you awake, but how does it effect sleep? Caffeine can last for up to 10 hours in your body. This means if you were to have an afternoon sip of your espresso or iced coffee at around 2 or 3. This caffeine could still be active in your body at around midnight. Causing difficulties when trying to sleep. You might be one of the few people who are able to sleep even with caffeine in your body but that does not mean that the quality of sleep that you are getting is good. Caffeine greatly reduces the amount of non rapid eye movement ( NON REM ) sleep you get. You might refer to this as deep sleep. Duing your deep sleep is where most of the benefits of sleep come from. For example, your heart rate slows, your muscles loosen, and your breathing calms. Along with this. Non REM sleep improves mental health, emotional health, and just health, health. So you definitely want as much non REM sleep as possible. 

On the other hand, alcohol puts you to sleep right? Not necessarily. Alcohol is a sedative, and sedatives shuts your brain off, or drastically slows it down but not in a good way. Alcohol can mess with your non REM sleep or can entirely stop it. And even if it doesn’t, you won’t be getting much deep sleep anyways because alcohol causes you to wake up more. Breaking up your sleep.

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Jocelyn B.
September 26, 2023 3:21 am

Dear Kevin 

I am impressed by your post, “Take Back Your Sleep,” because you made me aware of how much sleep is important. The effects of not getting enough sleep, are more severe than one may think.

One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is,” Getting an insufficient amount of sleep can lead to a 40% decrease in learning capabilities. Along with this, sleep deprivation can cause memory loss which makes learning even more difficult not to mention just forgetting things can be super annoying. A major issue that not many know about is that loss of sleep causes cardiovascular issues. A study shows that during daylight saving time in Spring. The following day people lose their 1 hour of sleep, the percentage in heart attacks increases by around 25%.” This sentence, I believe, is quite insightful. I had no idea that a regular lack of good sleep increases the chance of various illnesses and/or problems, such as a heart attack or stroke. It’s very interesting how sleep deprivation can have such a profound impact on a person that it can almost certainly result in death.

Thank you for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next because I enjoyed how I was able to gain new knowledge, that otherwise I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t come across your article.  I am interested in reading what you write next. I really appreciated how you broke down and analyzed the topic. I’m eager to see what you do next.

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