“Why do we sleep” may sound like a silly question. We sleep because we need to sleep. What do you mean by “why do we sleep”. Nature has a purpose for everything - we may or may not be aware of it.

According to National Sleep Foundation website “We tend to think of sleep as a time when the mind and body shut down. But this is not the case; sleep is an active period in which a lot of important processing, restoration, and strengthening occurs. Exactly how this happens and why our bodies are programmed for such a long period of slumber is still somewhat of a mystery. But scientists do understand some of sleep’s critical functions, and the reasons we need it for optimal health and wellbeing. “

Our bodies require sleep to restore and rejuvenate, to grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesize hormones. One of the vital roles of sleep is to help us solidify and consolidate memories. The incredible number of bits and pieces of information taken in by the brain during the day are transferred from more tentative, short term memory to stronger, long-term memory - a process called ‘consolidation’.

We are all unique creations of nature and so each person’s need for sleep would also be different. But we all know young children need more sleep than teens who in turn need more than the adults. While adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, babies and toddlers need roughly 12-17 hours, school age children between 9-11 and teenagers between 8-10.

Feeling rested and rejuvenated after a night’s sleep is everyone’s goal. Sleep satisfaction - how satisfied someone is with his or her sleep, is a subjective evaluation. It may be independent of sleep quality or quantity. Someone may sleep less hours than average person but still be very satisfied with the experience. It may be helpful to compare sleep satisfaction to dining satisfaction. If you enjoy gourmet meal that’s cooked exactly to your tastes, it’s highly satisfying. On the other hand, a meal that’s cooked correctly but disagrees with your personal tastes would be less satisfying, even though there is nothing technically wrong with it.

A missed night of sleep is a common experience. No matter what the reason may be, the end result of a sleepless night is the same: your body has been deprived of an essential component for good health and energy. A single night without sleep isn’t usually a big deal, but longer term frequent too little sleep can result in accumulation of sleep debt that can affect your appearance, immune system, and even the way your brain functions.

The relationship between mood disorders and quality of sleep is a complex two-way street. Just as negative or low mood states can make it virtually impossible to get a good night’s sleep, frequently interrupted or insufficient sleep can lead to bouts of depression or anxiety.

According to NHS website “Most people experience problems with sleep in their life. In fact, it’s thought that a third of Brits will have episodes of insomnia at some point. The causes can include physical conditions, psychological conditions or a combination of both.

Sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good night-time sleep quality and full daytime alertness. Some good sleep hygiene practices are:

Going to bed and waking up at the same time ever day

Making sure the temperature of bedroom is cool and not very warm

Keeping the bedroom dark and quiet

Establishing a regular relaxing bedtime routine - taking warm shower or bath, reading a book, listening to relaxing and calming music

Making sure that the sleepover environment is pleasant - mattress and pillows should be comfortable

Exercise regularly during the day

Do not watch TV or use devices before going to bed

Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime

Steer clear of food that can be disruptive right before sleep