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By Jesse Utz 

Sleep: is it necessary?

 


Most parents realize this not long after bringing their newborn home. A lack of sleep is something that must be overcome as we pray and wait to see if our child will actually sleep through the night tonight. As those kids grow up, yes, they do start sleeping all night long, all morning long, all afternoon long and then we start praying for some awake time with them. As parents we also lose sleep when our teenagers are awake. First dates for our daughters and sons can bring us to a new place of sleeplessness, as we wait for their return or a phone call. Sleeplessness seems to be just part of raising a child.

We know we still have to go to work. Whether the cries of a baby, the stress of a situation or the waiting to know if our loved ones are safe, sleep can be missing as we prepare to go into the workplace the next day. Most of us have been there. There are the lucky ones that, no matter the situation, they will sleep.

Some studies have shown that eight hours is the recommended restful sleep most people should have. There are also studies that show less and more are also beneficial. But all the studies I have ever read say that long-term sleep deprivation has huge consequences to one’s health in the long run. But so does too much sleep. In one study, it showed too much sleep tends to lead to obesity, lack of social skills and higher risk of heart issues down the road. Those studies were done on adults; what happens if we throw children into the mix.

Let me just answer this now. Yes, sleep is necessary and some, no matter how little, makes all the difference in the world. But what I found doing some research is this. Our bodies are naturally designed to sleep during the night. Those who got only four hours of restful sleep at night are more mentally equipped for the day than someone who got eight hours of sleep in the daylight. You see, our bodies want to sleep and recharge when it is dark out. Some say it is our DNA, some say it is our body in tune with nature, and others say it is what God intended for us. But the bottom line is that we are healthier if we sleep at night. It was found that those who sleep during the day are less productive and are at higher risk of all things that end lives early. Those who do not sleep at night are more likely to develop heart issues, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and mental health issues, compared with those who sleep for an average of six hours a night. The reason behind this is our bodies are more active during the daylight hours, mentally and physically. Sleep, at night, is good.

I have been sleep deprived at some times in my life and I know that I am very much more likely to make a mistake when I lack rest. Power naps are good also. Especially in children. Remember nap time in school? There was a reason that this occurred. Students were more productive and more socially engaged after a short, quiet time. Even if they did not sleep at all, they were more engaged in the activity afterward. So, what happened to naps?

OK, so maybe I wrote this whole column during a time when I was tired and that is why it was on my mind, or maybe I see an unrested workforce out there trying their best but fighting against their very human nature. Sleep is good, naps are good, but during the right time it can make a world of difference to our health and to society as a whole. So what am I saying? I am saying, stop staying up all night, sleep, go take a nap. I am going to take a nap right now. Zzzzzzzz.

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