The Importance of Sleep

By Kayla Mustain

What is sleep?

Sleep is a condition of body and mind that typically recurs for several hours every night, in which the nervous system is relatively inactive, the eyes closed, the postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness practically suspended.

The Sleep Cycle/ REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Cycle

Image result for sleep cycle rem sleep

Stage 1: You are lightly asleep and can wake easily. It is very brief lasts about seven minutes.

Stage 2: Also brief, your brain waves began to rapidly increase then slow back down.

Stage 3 and 4: When you began to enter deep sleep and when your body repairs and boosts immune function.

REM:  It is where most dreams occur and when your brain is most active.

These cycles need to repeat around six to seven times to have a healthy amount of sleep.

Why do you want to have a healthy amount of sleep?

Having a good night sleep improves learning and helps restore your memories. A good night sleep helps heal your heart and repair your blood vessels. A small amount of sleep makes you feel more hungry and increases your blood pressure.

What is sleep like in different cultures?

In several parts of the world, in the afternoon many people’s life comes to a halt to participate in naps.

In most parts of China, most adults and students take a break from work or school at noon every day to take a nap. The reasoning behind this is that at noon, the sun rays are the highest in the sky creating the perfect time to take an hour-long nap. Taking a nap at noon makes the employees more productive, improves their learning ability, and makes them more alert.

In Italy, it is known as a riposo. Between noon and four o’clock, businesses and venues shut down, so the employees can go home to have a lunch and sleep.

In Spain, they call it a siesta, and it is one of the most embraced traditions. It lasts around two hours and also begins at noon. It isn’t just sleeping either. The employees return home and have lunch with their family and friends. It was once a necessity but has recently become a luxury.

In Islamic culture, it is called Qailulah which is a Sunna. It is a short nap usually before Zhuhr prayer. It is a short nap, not a lengthy one.

So why do we not purposefully partake in napping at noon in America?

If you think we should nap more or have a better idea, leave your comments below.


  1. I like the information you’ve provided, but other than learning and better mental performance, why do we need sleep? Does it affect us physically? What happens if we oversleep?


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