We all know that good sleep is beneficial. Yet, many of us still underestimate the costs of sleep deprivation and the enormous benefits that we can gain from something as simple and natural as sleeping. Lack of sleep has been associated not only with many psychological disorders, but has also been shown to be a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, obesity and substance abuse.
Our waking lives and the time we spend in bed seem like completely different realities. We spend the days engrossed in the activities of our lives – the dramas, the worries, the relationships. And, then we climb into bed and “switch off”. If we drop off quickly, remain unconscious until morning and wake up feeling rested, we say that we had a “good night’s sleep”.
But, the time we spend in bed is not really a time of inactivity or switching off. On the contrary, it is a time of extraordinary activity. During the various cycles of sleep, the body undergoes repair, the batteries of the brain (glia cells) are recharged with nutritional “fuel” and experiences of the previous day are processed and integrated through the processes of dreaming.