Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Having some "sheepless" nights?

Since pre-school, we’ve all looked forward to the activity of the day: NAP TIME! From Kindergarten to the fifth grade, things couldn’t be better. Sleep was a necessity and each day rounded up to a total of 8 or so hours each night. But as we left the sandboxes and made our ways toward Middle school, we left our behind pleasant dreams. Now, more classes meant more work, which meant less sleep. And for many of us, High School is where we experienced our first all-nighter. Whether it was completing a history assignment, or writing that 10 page senior exit paper, sleep became a thing of the past. The tendency for us to sleep the average amount needed to fully function during the day began to decline as we progressed throughout secondary school. While we believe running off of 5 or 6 hours of sleep is sufficient, Americans now sleep 20 percent less than a century ago. A century ago when children were able to sleep for 8 hours now results to only 6.8 hours. According to the US National Science Foundation, the lack of sleep is also linked to mood swings, depression, anxiety, and other health related issues. In this Nature article with the support of other journals, the importance of sleep is highly stressed bringing into consideration the health and mental effects of loosing too many hours of sleep.
Nature magazine first argues that the medical profession is in part responsible for people not realizing the seriousness of their neglecting to sleep. According to Nature the medical professions have not been attention to their patients who claim to have had any type of sleep problems. Sleep research has shown that sleep is very important when it comes to the body and mind. When we are sleep, the mind is very active with rapid eye movement the reoccurring dreams of us dating a celebrity or winning the billon dollar jackpot. The switch in the brain from sleeping to awakening is called the hypothalamus and when we throw the brain off by randomly sleeping throughout the day or in this case not getting enough sleep at all, neurogenesis slows down and the brain is not able to function well with practical daily activities.
Not only does the lack of sleep lead to the inability to function, but research from Ronald Dahl of Phi Delta Kappan notes that insufficient amounts of sleep also leads to adult diseases such as diabetes, and insomnia. Health effects are also noticeable in adolescents such as ADHD, and even symptoms of epilepsy. An Eastern Virginia Medical School noted that people who sleep 16 minutes less per night than the average sleeper is more at risk of becoming severely overweight. As a problem for most entering freshman, gaining 15 pounds from working and not sleeping is the last thing anyone wants to be worried about. Just think---missing what only seems to be a few measly hours of sleep can ultimately cause a 10 percent increase in body mass index.
Aside from the health proponents associated with the neglecting of sleep are four main mental and physical effects of choosing to sleep less. The first most obvious and common result of lack of sleep is feeling tired. Classes that call for a physical attribution can easily cover up the sleepiness of a person. However, if trying to write a paper at your desk or read a chapter out of a biology book, one is more than likely to fall asleep within minutes. Sometimes, Dahl mentions, even during class, one may not even notice that they are
micro-sleeping in lapse intervals of. Although it seems as if our bodies can function with the minimal amount of sleep, other factors prove otherwise. That’s why on Thursday nights when at the club until three in the morning with an eight a.m. class, sure you’re hyper for a while; consequently, when it is time to wake up, you’re body tries to make up for the lost hours of sleep.
Another symptom proposed by Dahl is tiredness which makes it difficult to complete tasks that requires thinking and processing. The brain is unable to process the information that we take in because the front of the brain (prefrontal cortex) also suffers when we deprive ourselves of sleep. The third, emotional changes, comes in many different aspects. The emotional states of people who do not sleep enough vary depending on what the activity calls for. When it comes to students in school it is easy to become agitated, impatient, and intolerant when they are not completely focused. Research showed when the brain cannot fully function, quick emotional changes becomes out of ones control. It is recognizable in students who are forced to complete challenges especially with word processing. Outside of the learning environment, uncontrollable emotions may also lead “to aggression, sexual behavior, alcohol usage, and risky driving.”
Lastly, most common in
adolescents is the sudden change in ones attention and performance. Even though one may try to succeed in tasks, sleep loss leads to short mental lapses while trying to pay attention. As mentioned earlier, with the quick dozes, it is probable that one will develop ADHD or easily be distracted by almost anything as the mind is unable to perform and maintain control of attention.
So as you get ready to enter into college life, prepare yourself for less hours of sleep; however, do so with consideration. With the competition to stay ahead, stress from multiple tests and papers, and the desire to maintain a social life, keep in mind that sleep is a necessity. It does no good to stay up and cram for a major chemistry test, or that five page English assignment for that 8 a.m. recitation.. It is much safer, if not most satisfying to just sit it all aside and take a nap. Rather than risk gaining 10 pounds per semester stressing over a report, get a good night sleep, and go at it some other time. Wouldn’t it be nice if sleep came as easily as when we were in Kindergarten? While that may only be a figment of the past, adding a few hours can make all the difference. After all, it would not be a good idea to fall asleep during a front row lecture. Such a bad first impression!

*Lawson, Willow. "The sleep equation: even minor sleep loss may make you gain weight.(ASK PT)(Brief article)." Psychology Today 38.6 (Nov-Dec 2005): 20(1). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. 5 Feb. 2007 .
*Dahl, Ronald E. "The Consequences of Insufficient Sleep for Adolescents Links Between Sleep and Emotional Regulation." Phi Delta Kappan 80.5 (Jan 1999): 354(1). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale. University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. 5 Feb. 2007 .
* Nature 437, 1207 (27 October 2005) doi:10.1038/4371207a. 26 October 2005

1 comment:

Daniel Lupton said...

Gabrielle, I think you've done a good job summarizing your article, and you've certainly found some interesting research. In terms of criticism, I think the biggest problem with this post is that it needed another close edit. There are several distracting typos and sentences that just don't make sense. I'm not sure if your draft workshop partners are catching these, but you may want to give your papers a quick run-through (or, better yet, get someone else to mark unclear or difficult passages) before you post them.