Importance of Sleep: New Study Says Modern Society 'Needs to Rest'

sleeping cat
A cat sleeps on a cushion at the cat cafe in New York April 23, 2014. The cat cafe is a pop-up promotional cafe that features cats and beverages in the Bowery section of Manhattan. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Doctors can't stress enough the significance of sleep. Scientists said modern life and tiring routine pose great danger for the health. People nowadays sacrifice sleep to accomplish more tasks in the day.

Scientists from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Manchester and Surrey universities said people today need to recognize the problem and take it seriously. Lack of sleep causes a lot of health problems like cancer, heart diseases and more.

Studies discovered that the brain's memory functions drop to 15 percent when the body has only four to five hours of sleep. Sleep helps the brain use and recover information. Researchers suggested if an individual already feels extremely sleepy or tired but needs to review or memorize more info, it would be best to rest first.

"Some research has suggested that sleep restriction over many years may affect metabolism, increasing the risk of obesity and type-2 diabetes," Siobhan Banks, University of Pennsylvania's psychiatry professor, said in a report from Men's Health. Sleeping for only five to six hours increases an individual's chance to be overweight by 69 percent.

During sleep, the body produces melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep cycle. If the normal sleep pattern is disturbed, the decrease in melatonin synthesis will weaken cancer-fighting antioxidants in the body.

Prof. Russell Foster of the University of Oxford said people these days are getting two hours less sleep than 60 years ago. Prof. Foster added he knew some teenagers who take sleeping tablets at night and drink several energy drinks in the morning.

Another culprit that nabs away sleep from people nowadays is too much light exposure in homes, television screens and mobile devices.

"It's a big concern that we're being exposed to much more light, sleeping less and, as a consequence, may suffer from many chronic diseases," he noted as reported by BBC.

Prof. Foster, along with the other experts, concluded people might not feel or see the immediate effects of lack of sleep. But in the long run, the consequences will show and it will bring extreme health problems.

The researchers sound off that there needs to be a call for action in the government and the people regarding the importance of sleep.

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