The Importance of Sleep
The following behavior health journal delves into the benefits of sleeping more hours. Undoubtedly, the brain is the powerhouse that coordinates the body. Just like any engine in an automobile, the brain requires to be reset. In human beings, there is no better method to rest the brain other than sleeping. From a layman's perspective, people who are tired occasionally go to bed and get up refreshed because sleeping rejuvenates the brain. From a more scientific viewpoint, Saey (2009) reports that sleep is responsible for forging neural connections that help in preserving system memory. As such, this study implies that people who sleep more are likely to boost their memory significantly. Arguably, this aspect can be attributed to the functioning of the hippocampus part of the brain that enhances memory consolidation; converting short term memories to long term memories.
For the most part, however, researchers are unable to exclusively explain how sleep heals the body. Nonetheless, there are numerous research materials that points out to the adversities that are caused by sleep deprivation. To begin with, Lichtenstein (2015) reports that lack of enough sleep may induce or worsen gastro esophageal reflux disease, irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcer disease, colorectal cancer, and liver disease. Furthermore, poor sleeping habits may lead to severe brain and body impairment. When individuals are tired but still refuse to sleep, they force their brain cells to work beyond the optimal limit. In such instances, a burnout is inevitable. Other than that, more research suggests that lack of sleep is associated with mood disorders, obesity, heart disease, and obesity (Alertness Solutions, 2015). Hence, this research proves that sleep is a functional biological aspect in human existence that needs to be taken seriously.
Baseline Description of Behavior
Until I was obligated to come up with this health journal, I was never really keen on observing my sleeping patterns. However, I can attest that occasionally, the number of hours I slept were associated with my physical and emotional feelings. For instance, one of my busiest weeks was week 9. During this week, I had an exam and therefore I had to be up most of the night reading. In total, I slept an average of 4 hours a day this week and it was exhausting. I would come out of the exam hall feeling very tired. Occasionally, I would also feel dizzy and my peptic ulcers would itch a bit. In addition to that, I noted that I had become quite emotional. I would get angry at my friends for interrupting me during my revision sessions. When Friday finally came, I was relieved that the week was over.
In the following week 10, I did not have any specific tasks at hand. So I sought to compensate for the previous week's lack of sleep. On average, I slept 8 hours for that week. I noticed considerable improvements in my lifestyle. Perhaps, the most significant change was on the side of my peptic ulcers. I experienced little or no pain at all during this week. Other than that, I was relatively calm. I chatted with jovially and felt more inclined to attend the end-of-semester party that a friend has decided to host. In general, this was one of my happiest weeks. For the other weeks not mentioned in this section, I occasionally slept an average of 5-6 hours every week. The experience I had sleeping this duration was not quite noticeable. I can positively conclude that I was operating optimally. My thoughts were clear and my body was responding positively to activities that I did.
The first intervention that I applied was meant to investigate the association between sleep and optimal performance. I implemented this intervention by following a study that was intended to decipher the performance and fatigue of nurses who work shifts that exceed 12 hours. In this study, the researchers engaged 80 participants by providing them with wrist-worn actigraphs that recorded the number of hours they slept (Geiger-Brown, 2012). They would also key in their level of sleepiness at the beginning of the shift all through towards the end of the shift. The data from the actigraphs was then plotted using a KSS scale that topped at 7. The higher the score, the higher the fatigue. I sought the same device from a lab and found that my KSS score at the beginning of the day (at 7:00 a.m.) was 2.8. By noon it was at 3.1 and by 7 p.m., it was at 3.4. In essence, this shows that my fatigue levels increased as I stayed away from sleep for a longer period.
The second intervention was borrowed from nursing study that sought to determine the relevance of sleep in healing among adult patients. The hypothesis of the study was that lack of sleep may cause acute stress, which hampers the healing process among hospitalized adult patients. This study was mostly appropriate for me because I suffer from peptic ulcers. The more stressed I am the severe my situation becomes. In the study, the researchers featured 37 subjects across three hospital units (Coakley et al., 2012). The study was majorly qualitative; participants were subjected to interviews. Most of them admitted that noise levels in the hospital irritated them considerably. This is because it affected their sleeping patterns hence making them stressed. I decided to conduct the same study for myself but following a different setting. I got to live with a someone and asked them away for half the week. I noticed that in the period when I was alone in the room, I slept in a sound manner as compared to when my roommate was around. The resultant effect was that during the period in which my roommate was away, I did not have to take any medication for peptic ulcers since there were no such complications.
The third intervention I applied took on a more educative perspective. Here, I followed research conducted by scholars who wanted to establish a connection between adequate sleep and academic performance. They collected data of 54,111 subjects across 71 institutions (Becker, 2012). From the findings of the study, they concluded that students who slept an average of 8 hours a day registered better performance than those who slept for shorter periods. I applied the same intervention but in a different context. I found content related to my course material and attempted to cram 3 pages. I found two sets of contents. I read the first document after a long tiring day and attempted to write down what I had learnt the next day. For the second document, I attempted to cram it immediately after I woke up and wrote down concepts I had learnt the next day. I discovered that I had retained most of the concepts I had learnt immediately after waking up as compared to that which I read after a tiring day.
My behavior and attitudes towards sleep can be elaborated using the scope of three different theories. These include the health belief model, the social cognitive theory, and the trans-theoretical model. According to the health belief model, negative health conditions can be avoided if individuals take the correct action to prevent it. Similarly, the model argues that is totally possible for individuals to take actions to improve their health condition. In this context, this model implies that individuals can prevent the adversities that are caused by poor sleeping patterns by seeking more hours of sleep. Furthermore, this is possible because all people have to do it to create time to sleep. On the other hand, the social cognitive theory provides that individuals can learn good habit by observing what other people are doing. In other words, this theory implies that people often learn and become sensitized during social interactions. With reference to this, I can attest that I was prompted to sleep more by observing the benefits that it held for subjects in the research that I went through in the process of completing this project.
The trans-theoretical model of behavior change in healthcare follows 6 main stages. Before I started this project, my precontemplation stage involved thoughts that I needed to live a healthier life. And if sleep was part of the solution, I would have to work on it. My contemplation stage followed suit when I stumbled upon research that claimed human beings needs an average period of 8 hours of sleep. Comparing this to my schedule, I only slept an average of five hours. My preparation stage followed suit when I learnt of how people can get more time to sleep by actively managing their time throughout the day. I listened to Laura Vanderkam on principles of time management and learnt that no matter how ?busy' I thought I was, I could always create time to sleep. However, my action stage did not come until I began taking deliberate actions to increase the number of hours I slept. This involved hard choices such as missing some of my favorite television programs. The last stage is called the maintenance stage. To achieve this, I had to create a routine. By following a routine, I would automate the process and make it simpler to follow all while bolstering my health significantly.
In summary, sleep is a crucial aspect of human life that enhances optimal functioning and good health. Based on research and my personal experience, it can be concluded that sleep promotes better brain functioning. Apart from that, sleeping for longer hours relieves the body from fatigue. For learners, eight or more hours of sleep enhances memory coordination, which improves performance. Other than that, longer periods of sleep have been credited for promoting healing while preventing the contraction or worsening of diseases, especially gastrointestinal illnesses.
Amanda Bulette Coakley PhD, R. N., Christine Donahue Annese MSN, R. N., & Sharon Bouvier MS, R. N. (2012). Exploring the sleep experience of hospitalized adult patients. Creative nursing,18(3), 135.
Becker, C. M., Adams, T., Orr, C., & Quilter, L. (2008). Correlates of quality sleep and academic performance.Health Educator,40(2), 82-89.
Geiger-Brown, Jeanne, et al. "Sleep, sleepiness, fatigue, and performance of 12-hour-shift nurses."Chronobiology international29.2 (2012): 211-219.
Lichtenstein, G. R. (2015). The Importance of Sleep.Gastroenterology & hepatology,11(12), 790.
Saey, T. H. (2009). The Science of Slumber. Science news.
The Importance of Sleep. (2013). Alertness Solutions. Retrieved from http://aspiria.myworklifeportal.com/Mcmasteruni/importance-of-sleep.pdf