The Significance of Quality Sleep for Health

Let’s discuss the importance of enough sleep for health. Teenagers need a lot of sleep. How much? That depends on the person but usually about nine hours a night – that’s more than adults!

It’s difficult for teenagers to wake up early and to go to sleep early. Often they feel lively at night when adults feel sleepy. Many teenagers have the energy to play computer games until late at night but can’t find the energy to get out of bed in time for school. Is it just laziness or is it something more? That’s because teenagers’ brains produce melatonin (a hormone which makes you sleepy) later. At night our body produces the ‘darkness hormone’ melatonin which helps us to fall asleep. Most adults start to produce melatonin at about 10 p.m. Research has shown that teenagers start to produce the hormone at 1 a.m. In other words, teenagers are being kept awake by their bodies and there is not much they can do about it. The fact that they play computer games and watch television late at night stimulates the brain even more and makes it harder for them to fall asleep. When you see bright lights, your brain stops making melatonin. That means you can’t sleep well.

One thing is for certain – sleep is extremely important for teenagers for several reasons.

  • Sleep is essential for the release of growth hormones for physical growth and muscle development.
  • Sleep is necessary for good memory and concentration, problem-solving, and decision-making. Teenagers who get enough sleep are more focused during the day. This is particularly important for academic performance or participating in sports.
  • Quality sleep is linked to a strengthened immune system and that helps to fight off illnesses and infections.
  • Sleep helps regulate hormones, including those responsible for stress, mood, emotions, and appetite.
  • Sleep improves overall mental health.

Most teenagers do not get enough sleep. Lack of sleep results in bad moods, irritability, increased stress levels and sometimes depression.

If you have problems falling asleep, you should think about the following:

  • establish a a regular sleep schedule
  • do not drink chocolate, tea and coca-cola in the evening because they have caffeine and they keep you awake
  • do not eat before you go to bed because too much food makes it difficult for your body to relax
  • don’t exercise before bedtime
  • create a comfortable sleep environment
  • minimize screen time before bedtime.

Developing good sleep habits during adolescence sets the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Get quality sleep for health!

Five Stages of Sleep

Every person goes through five stages of sleep. To feel good we need to go through each stage every night.

During stages 1 and 2 you sleep lightly. It is easy for someone or something to wake you. During stages 3 and 4 you sleep deeply. It is not easy for anyone to wake you. You hear no sounds and see no lights.

Then comes the last stage of sleep. It is called REM (rapid eye movement). This is the stage in which you dream. You breathe more quickly than in the previous stages. Your eyes move rapidly under your eyelids and you dream.

There are all kinds of dreams: good ones, bad ones and nightmares. You need your dreams. You dream more if you have a special problem. Dreams help you solve your problem and give you answers to some questions. Actually, you dream four to six
times during the REM stage. Very often you don’t remember what you have dreamt about.

Find in the text the words for:

  • quickly — r…
  • find and answer a problem — s…
  • a very frightening dream — n…
  • take and let out air — b…
  • a period or a step in a process — s…

Answer the Questions:

  1. How many hours’ sleep do you need every night?
  2. Do you fall asleep easily?
  3. What do you do when you can’t fall asleep?
  4. Do you wake up during the night or do you sleep like a log?
  5. Do you sometimes not sleep a wink? When does it happen?
  6. Do you remember your dreams in the morning?
  7. Do you often have bad dreams?
  8. Do you sometimes stay up after midnight?
  9. Do you wake up easily in the morning?
  10. Do you ever feel sleepy in class?
  11. What shouldn’t you do if you have problems falling asleep?
  12. Why is it important to get enough sleep for health?

Idiomatic Expressions Related to Sleep

get off to sleep = manage to fall asleep
We finally got off to sleep around midnight. I had a bad night; I went to bed early enough, but for some reason I couldn’t get off to sleep.

hit the sack = go to bed
It’s been a long day so I’m gonna hit the sack. –  Ok, see you in the morning. What time did you finally hit the sack last night, Molly?

tuck someone in = put a child into their bed, making them comfortable and ready to sleep
I read my daughter a bedtime story every night and then tuck her in.

Sleep tight! = sleep well (a way of saying ‘goodnight’ to someone)
Goodnight! – Sleep tight! See you in the morning. Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbug bite!

out like a light = fall asleep immediately
I was so tired that as soon as I got into bed, I was out like a light. She was out like a light, as soon as we put her in bed.

sleep like a baby = sleep very deeply and peacefully
I always sleep like a baby when I’m on holiday.  I sleep like a baby with my new electric blanket.

sleep like a log = sleep very deeply, nothing can wake you
So you didn’t hear any of last night’s thunderstorm? – Nope. I always sleep like a log. Maria can sleep like a log in almost any place, including airplanes and cars.

not sleep a wink = not sleep at all
Are you OK? – Not really. I didn’t sleep a wink last night. We could not sleep a wink last night because of noise.

toss and turn = experience restless sleep with lots of moving around – usually because you are ill or stressed
He’s got the flu and was tossing and turning all night. Do you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, or do you toss and turn for hours before dropping off?

a light sleeper = a person who wakes up easily in the night
I’m a light sleeper, the slightest noise wakes me up. If you are a light sleeper, ask for a room that doesn’t face the street.

up at the crack of dawn = get up very early
He gets up at the crack of dawn and goes for a run before work.  My Dad used to get up at the crack of dawn every Sunday to go fishing.

have a lie-in = stay in bed longer than usual
I always have a lie-in on Sunday mornings. You’ve got a day off, why not have a lie-in?