Through studies conducted on animals, scientists have been able to establish that sleep is essential for humans. It is quite evident that the animals need sleep for them to survive. In this particular case, the animal under study was the rat. The normal lifespan of a rat is two years. However, rats that are deprived of the REM sleep stage may die after 5 weeks. The rats which are deprived of all sleep stages may die in as little as 3 weeks. A look at the sleep deprived rats shows that their bodies display abnormality in temperatures. The paws and tail may develop temperatures which are abnormally low and they may also have sores. The lack of sleep affects the immunity system and this is one of the reasons as to why the sores develop.
What happen if we are deprived of sleep?
We need to get enough sleep if we want our bodies to function properly. This has a positive influence on how our nervous system functions. People who are sleep deprived and drowsy are not able to concentrate. They end up having memory lapses, hampered physical performance and some may not be able to carry out calculations accurately. In some extreme cases of sleep deprivation, one may start hallucinating or experiencing mood swings.
What does sleep do for us?
According to the experts, when we sleep, the neurons get a chance to shut down and carry out some self-repairs. Without the sleep, the neurons end up getting polluted and depleted as a result of the cellular functions taking place in the body. As we sleep, the brain gets a chance to make neuronal connections which may otherwise degenerate as a result of the lack of activity.
When we are in deep sleep, there is an increased production of growth hormones. There is also reduced protein breakdown and increased cell production. Proteins are responsible for the repair of cells damaged by ultraviolet rays or even stress and this is why deep sleep can also be referred to as beauty sleep. During deep sleep, the part of the brain that deals with social interactions, decision making and emotions experiences reduced activity and this helps in optimizing emotions when we are awake. Researchers established that some nerve signalling patterns that took place during the day in rats were actually repeated when the rats were in deep sleep. This repeat in patterns improves learning at the same time encoding memories.