Sleep and Sleep Deprivation - Essay Sample

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Wesleyan University
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According to Martin, sleep is a human characteristic like eating and drinking (466). Everyone does sleep, and it is a common fact that occupies one third and two-thirds of a human life and a babys life. Not only do human beings sleep, even animals whether aquatic, winged, or terrestrial are known to partake sleep at one point in the day. Therefore, rest is a common factor that brings all living organisms together. The author further argues that sleep is not a characteristic of human behavior; instead, it is a universal characteristic of complex living organisms (466). Martin also posits that living organisms have different patterns of sleep because of the distinctive design of electrical activity in the brain. However, rest has several common characteristics recognizable in almost all living organisms. One component of sleep is that living organisms adopt a specific sleeping posture. For instance, bats and sloths sleeping pattern involves hanging upside down from a tree. A lizard settles on a branch, closes its eyelids, curls up its tail, retracts its eyeballs, and maintains the sleeping posture for the whole night. Additionally, monkeys and human beings sleep while lying down (Martin 467). The author argues that human beings can sleep in various positions such as while sitting down or standing, but such postures do not offer the necessary relaxation that arises from sleep when one is lying. Martin further notes that another characteristic of sleep in all living organism is that they all return to the same place each night. There is a tendency of living organisms to choose a common area of sleeping because the sleeping location serves as security. Birds usually sleep on ledges while small mammals sleep in burrows that protect them from predators. Human beings on the other hand sleep in secure places that are private (468). Another characteristic of sleep is reduced responsiveness to sight, sound, and different stimuli (Martin 468). For instance, a sleeping reef fish can be lifted from the ground to the surface of the ocean without waking up. The regular cycle of waxing and waning is another characteristic of sleep. Living organisms adhere to a repeated sequence of 24 hours, which they sleep and wake up. A majority of living organisms rest when the environment is unfavorable for particular activities such as play and the search for food. However, other living organisms utilize a reverse pattern of sleeping during the day and waking during the night. Martin also displays how different organisms interchange sleep patterns due to various environmental conditions. For instance, dolphins utilize unihemispheric sleep, which allows one part of the brain to sleep while the other stays awake to enable the dolphin to take a turn to catch a breath of air and return to sleep. Human beings cannot utilize the unihemispheric sleep, but they can sleep with their eyes open because the brain is the one that sleeps not the eyes.

Sleep is a significant part of human life, and it should not be ignored regardless of economic situations or life hurdles that humans face. Sparacino provides a considerable article that details the importance of sleep to human beings. Rest is essential for maintaining a healthy heart, mind, and weight. Sleep improves memory. Sleep initiates a process called consolidation that enables the human brain to strengthen and practice skills while one was awake (Sparacino). The chances of learning a new skill are high when one conducts the activity after sleep. Moreover, enough sleep extends the life of a person. A study of women between 50 to 79 years in 2010 proved that more deaths occurred in women who slept less than five or more than six hours per night (Sparacino). Sleep also curbs inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, premature aging, and diabetes. People who sleep fewer hours have higher blood levels than those who sleep ample hours. Creativity is also linked to proper sleeping patterns. Sleep enables the brain to reorganize and restructure memories, which may spur the creativity of an individual. Athletes improve their performance by sleeping for adequate hours. At Stanford University, football players who slept for 10 hours a night for eight weeks were found to have minimal instances of fatigue and improved their sprinting time (Sparacino). Sleep also sharpens the attention of a human being. ADHD-like symptoms are common in kids who lack enough sleep. Children who slept less than eight hours per night were found to be inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive (Sparacino). Insufficient sleep affects a drivers performance resulting in fatal accidents. For this case, sleep has been found to play a crucial role in avoiding such collisions since it boosts reaction time and decision-making.

Sleep deprivation has been found to cause detrimental effects on the lives of human beings and the environment. According to Dement and Vaughan, sleepiness is a fundamental drive of nature that must be met same as other human needs (500). As soon as one wakes up, the brain starts calculating the time needed to sleep to pay off the days work. The authors conducted a study where they restricted the hours of sleep of ten volunteers to five hours for seven days. They found out that the tendency to fall asleep was greater each successive day. Therefore, the authors formulated the term sleep debt, which means accumulated lost sleep must be paid back. Sleep deprivation results in severe and impaired daytime sleepiness. Sleep debt results in the making of poor decisions while performing relevant tasks such as driving. A Stanford professor participated in a bicycle race that took several days. The professor did not sleep for enough hours and decided to travel. While driving, he began to snooze, and it was harder to keep his eyes open. Hours later the professor lost control of the car and it overturned (503). Additionally, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker sank because the master was sleepy and the ship lost turn without the realization of the master (498). Dement and Vaughan found out that road accidents due to alcoholism were also linked with sleep debt. The authors through a study of Stanford students found out that the lack of sleep and a dose of alcohol added to the system results in more sleepiness. Therefore, the research concluded that road accidents were not only caused by alcohol but by sleep debt (504)

Thus, sleep has a lot of significance to our lives, increases our attention, and avoids accidents from happening. In the case where the professor was engaged in a crash due to lack of sleep, the situation could have been otherwise if the professor took time and slept for enough hours without driving. Sleep improves our attention and our ability to handle various tasks. If the third mate in the Exxon Valdez had enough sleep during the day, he would have controlled the ship and prevent it from sinking. The two instances are clear illustrations of the consequences of sleep deprivation on the lives of human beings and the environment. The oil spillage in the ocean caused the death of a significant number of aquatic animals. The accident could have been avoided if the third mate had slept. It is essential for people to know about sleep and sleep deprivation despite these tough economic times that regard sleep as laziness. People need to be educated on the importance of sleep to our lives both externally and internally. The knowledge in sleep and sleep deprivation will fill a broad gap in the society that is neglected due to the ignorance that society has placed on sleep.

Works cited

Dement, William, and Vaughan, Christopher. Sleep Debt and the Mortgaged Mind. The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection between Health, Happiness, and a good Night's Sleep. New York: Delacorte Press, 1999: 497-505. Print.

Martin, Paul. A Third of Life. Counting Sheep: The Science and Pleasures of Sleep and Dreams. United States of America: Thomas Dunne Books, 2002: 462-470.Sparacino, Alysa. 11 Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep. Health, 21 Jul. 2013,,,20459221,00.html#curb-inflammation-0. Accessed 6 Nov 2017.

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