We know that sleep significantly affects the brain and the rest of the body, and that it is important for physical and emotional health and well-being. Yet, we know surprisingly little about sleep’s specific purpose and function — other than observing that people are less tired, and function better, after a good night's sleep, and feel worse and function poorly when they don’t sleep well. 2 Sleep is important in the consolidating learning and memories, and may be important in maintaining brain health as we age.3,4 Only in the last 30 years have physicians and scientists systematically explored sleep disorders.
Unfortunately, individuals who do not get adequate sleep lose insight into the effects the sleep deprivation is having on their day-to-day functioning. Only when their sleep problems are corrected do they realize how bad they had it. Given the increasingly fast-paced nature of our society, there is growing concern about the prevalence and effects of sleep deprivation.5
2.Rechtschaffen A. Current perspectives on the function of sleep. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. 1998;41:359-390.
3. Tononi G, Cirelli C. Sleep function and synaptic homeostasis. Sleep Med Rev. 2006;10:49-62.
4. Bonnet MH. Acute sleep deprivation. In: Kryger MH, Roth T, Dement WC, eds. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:54-66.
5. Banks S, Dinges DF. Chronic sleep deprivation. In: Kryger MH, Roth T, Dement WC, eds. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:67-75..