Sleep [rate]

Importance of sleep

Sleep plays a vital role in well-being and good health throughout your life. Getting not only enough but quality sleep at the right times can help protect your physical health, mental health, safety, and quality of life.

How you feel while you are awake depends largely on what happens while you are asleep. This is because during sleep, your body works to maintain your physical health and also supports healthy brain function. In teens and children, sleep also helps support development and growth.

The damage from sleep deficiency can harm you over time or can occur in an instant (such as a car crash). For instance, recurring sleep deficiency can affect how well you react, think, learn, work, get along with others, and in worst case scenarios, can raise your risk for some chronic health problems.


Causes of sleep problems

Insomnia is defined as the inability to get the amount of sleep that you need to wake up feeling refreshed and rested. Because different people require different amounts of sleep, insomnia is defined by how one feels after sleeping and not how quickly one dozes off or the number of hours you sleep. For instance, you may sleep for eight hours but if you wake up feeling fatigued and drowsy, you may be suffering from insomnia.

In order to properly resolve insomnia issues, you need to be a sleep detective. While emotional issues such as anxiety, stress, and depression; environmental issues (e.g. alcohol use); physical disturbances (e.g. pain from ulcers); and medical issues (e.g. asthma) contribute to about half of all insomnia cases, your daytime habits, physical health, and bedtime routine can also play a part.


How melatonin works to improve sleep at night

Produced in the brain’s pineal gland and sanctioned by the hypothalamus, melatonin is responsible for controlling the body’s sleep and wake cycles. As the sky gets darker, the eye sends messages to the brain via nerve endings helping the hypothalamus track the day’s progression. And as dusk approaches, the hypothalamus sends signals to the pineal gland to start secreting melatonin- whose production continues as the night advances, peaking in the wee hours and leveling off in the morning. Melatonin thus play an integral role in keeping our bodies on a 24-hour schedule of waking when it is light and snoozing when it is dark.