My opinion of sleep and how I actually go about it are different from each other. Generally, I get everything I planned for that day done before I allow myself to sleep, especially if there is homework involved. However, I fully believe people should reorganize their life, so they are able to get enough sleep each night. I believe this for several reasons: the consequences of sleep deprivation are serious, may improve vitality, and sleep is the time to allow the brain to reorganize the days’ events. Getting enough sleep is more important than getting less sleep in order to fulfill your day.
The consequences of sleep deprivation are serious and can even be deadly. Contrary to popular belief, long term sleep deprivation does not make a person go crazy or even show psychotic symptoms. Long term symptoms include impairment of memory, perception, and motivation. In our textbook, Dement explains one experiment he helped with. Randy Gardner, a high school student, wanted to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest time awake. Gardner was awake for 264 hours. A lot of Dement’s theories about sleep deprivation resulted from this marathon. Based on EEG readings from the end, Dement believes Gardner was in a sleepwalking state some of the time. This is because people lose motivation and the ability to control what they are doing. Sleep deprivation also leads to microsleeps. Microsleeps are “nod offs” that last much less than five seconds and which people do not actually notice they fell asleep. I believe microsleeps are the most dangerous, because surgeons, pilots, and drivers can have these while performing surgery, piloting a plane, or just driving and something serious can go wrong which ultimately leads to death.
Sleep may increase vitality by helping a person live a healthier life or even living longer. More research must be done to fully prove the latter. Many people experience after a good night’s rest relaxed, focused, and able to take on anything. This feeling is what people strive for in the morning: increased vitality. This in turn is an important part of motivation. Without either, people do not have the need to fulfill goals. Multiple studies have provided information that proves the theory that good sleep sets the brain up for positive feelings. Without much sleep, people are much more irritable and have a downer mood. Good/enough sleep improves a person’s vitality and mood.
Sleep is necessary for dreaming and allows the brain to organize and process the day’s events. In the textbook, Dement discusses his theory of dreaming: dreaming is the result of the brain making sense of what it does in the everyday waking life. The brain takes meaningless nerve activation and creates it into something that does have meaning and coherence. I believe this ties into the idea that animals (and people) dream about survival strategies. While dreaming, some people report being able to solve a problem or making sense of something that has confused them recently. This leads to animals also, and we can conclude they dream about how to better hunting or hiding from prey. Random bursts of nerve activity are continuous and usually have no meaning; however, once the signal is relayed to the cortex, they are no longer random and have meaning.
Good sleep is hard to define. I interpret good sleep as getting enough (generally nine hours for myself) with no restlessness and waking up energized and ready for the day. Sleep is important, because consequences of sleep deprivation can become serious; it improves vitality, and allows the brain time to make sense of its activities. I fully believe “good sleep” is more important than merely just getting enough to make it through the day and fulfilling the day’s plans. There is always tomorrow to worry.