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Sleep is an essential requirement for normal functioning of the human. As a matter of fact, temporary loss of sleep or change in sleep patterns does not have permanent consequences but when it becomes more frequent, it may have serious effects on a person's health especially in terms of mental and physical impairments forms. In the same line of thought, inadequate rest is capable of impairing a person's ability to handle stress, moderating their emotions, ability to think, and in the larger perspective maintain their immune system (Coon & Mitterer, 2010, p. 183). In fact, sleep is very important to a person's overall health and as such that its deprivation has been confirmed as to be very fatal.
The human body has Circadian Rhythms which are biological/natural processes that take place regularly on approximately 24 hour cycle. For instance, sleeping and waking up occur naturally to an internal pacemaker beat that works on a cycle of around 24 hours. Within the cycle, there is a segment that is responsible for sleep which has 5 different stages during the night; Each and every one of these cycles lasts for about 90 minutes and takes place a number of times throughout the period of sleeping. According to Coon & Mitterer (2010), certain sleep stages activate different segments of the brain which play critical roles in maintaining the balance of an individual's body as well as mental well being. For example, during the deep sleep stage, the human body regenerates tissues and body repairs, builds muscles and bones, and emerges to strengthen the immune system.
On the other hand, it also improves a person's learning ability and memory. Quite a number of studies have proven these facts. They have ascertained that the quality of the deep sleep stage highly affects emption, decision-making, creativity, and memory. This is because the paralimbic and limbic segments of the brain are predominantly active (Coon & Mitterer, 2010, p.185). Most people face sleep difficulties and change of sleep patterns from time to time, frequently related to pain or stress.
Butkov & Lee-Chiong (2007) asserts that as people get old, the possibility of sleep disorders increases. Studies have shown that about 50% of people aged over 65 years live with the effects or consequences of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, sleep deprivation symptoms, and periodic limb movement disorder. In much older people, sleep disorders may result to very serious health consequences like hypertension, and thus breathing difficulties during sleep contribute to heart related problems (p. 3). Moreover, this group of people is more prone to accidents arising from sleep deprivation symptoms. Weight changes and particularly weight gain is a common effect of sleep deprivation.
The quality and amount of sleep affects hormonal levels and in particular level of ghrelin and leptin, which consequently affect psychological processes that are depended on these hormonal levels. Furthermore, this relationship complicates the connection between health and sleep. Leptin is a hormone which affects satisfaction and fullness feelings after a meal while ghrelin is an appetite stimulating hormone. However, people suffering from deprivation of sleep have increased levels of ghrelin and reduced levels of leptin. Consequently, they end up feeling hungry all the time and are less satisfied after eating, hence gaining weight.
On the other hand, fatigues among drivers are a high cause for road accidents. Apparently, drowsy driving is one of the effects of sleep deprivation and sleep disorders, and potentially the most dangerous. In relation to employment, long distance travel, irregular working hours, and shift work cause and as such lead to sleep loss and change in sleep patterns. This affects their competency at work and this may be demonstrated by increased accidents, absenteeism, and loss of productivity. Thus, it is important for people to take responsibility of their sleep needs and habits (Butkov & Lee-Chiong 2007, p. 5).