A few days back, I got a scolding from mother for not going to bed on time. I was very angry and cried because I wanted to play for some more time. Finally, I had to obey my mom’s orders and go to bed. I had decided to stay awake till late at night in the bed and wake her up to prove her wrong. But when I opened my eyes, it was already morning!! I had fallen asleep within a few minutes.

I ran to the hall and asked mom “Why do we have to sleep?” She said, “Everybody, including all animals need sleep to survive and function. Sometimes we don’t realise it and then get angry for small reasons.”  “Ok. But why is it so important?” I asked. “Sleep allows our body to rest. It is very essential for learning and performing well in your work,” said mom. “Do you remember the day we came back late at night from granny’s house?” asked mom “how drowsy were you in the class? Your teacher sent a note to complain about you. Why do you think that happened?” “I was very sleepy,” I replied defensively. “Yes. Sleep is essential for alertness, maintaining all body-function rhythms, and also for your mental health,” added mom. “Was this the reason I was cranky and cried last night?” I asked. “Yes,” said mom laughingly.
I found it very interesting and decided to get some more information on sleep. In the library, I found many books on sleep. Reading one of the books, I learnt that sleep is of two types, REM and Non-REM.

I found it very interesting and decided to get some more information on sleep. In the library, I found many books on sleep. Reading one of the books, I learnt that sleep is of two types, REM and Non-REM.

Non-Rapid Eye Movement (Non-REM) sleep 

It is also known as “quiet” sleep. During this, important hormones are released for growth & development. It also helps in tissue growth and restoring energy. Maybe this is why young children sleep more than old people?

REM (rapid eye movement) sleep

During this, our eyes move back and forth very quickly beneath our eyelids, whereas the rest of our body is totally relaxed.

Do you know what I found very interesting? REM sleep is when we dream! Some scientists think that dreams help us to organise our memories and emotions. It’s like every night when we go to sleep, we transfer information from temporary cupboard to permanent cupboard (scientists call it short term memory to long term memory). 

Do you know there are five stages of sleep? They are:

  1. Light Non-REM sleep 
  2. Slightly Non-REM deeper sleep 
  3. Deeper Non-REM sleep
  4. Deepest Non-REM sleep
  5. REM sleep

Repetition of alternate REM and Non-REM sleep occurs. This forms a sleep cycle. During our night’s sleep, we go through many such cycles. I read about sleep disorders such as insomnia, where people are unable to sleep due to stress. I also read about sleepwalking,  where people walk while sleeping! Isn’t that scary? What if someone goes out of the house while asleep?

When I came home and told Mom about everything that I read, she was very happy. “This is precisely why your teachers and I tell you to rest well, especially before and during exams. If your brain doesn’t get enough rest, you might not be able to do your best,” said mom.

Since that day, I sleep on time without any arguments. I also follow some practices which help me get good sleep. They are:

  • Avoiding watching scary movies before going to bed
  • Not drinking tea or coffee before sleeping
  • Not exercising before sleeping 
  • Following a schedule for sleeping

Basically, I learnt that sleep is necessary for the perfect functioning of our body. 

Ok, now it’s almost my bedtime. See you later. Good night. Sweet dreams.

-Madhura Naik

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