My audience is your average college student or young adult who casually comes across the essay. Weather they find it on a blog or other social media site. Most likely, it would not appear on a journal website nor newspaper. I would assume the readers to stop and look through my essay. The majority of my problems came in the beginning of my essay. I had trouble coming up with a topic for my essay in the beginning. I also had trouble with getting my opening paragraph to sound how I wanted and making the rest of the paper flow along. Keeping a more casual tone was also a problem at times, which is one of the weaknesses of the essay. A strength of my paper would be that is have many examples of how sleeping is beneficial. My being a student-athlete who needs to get good sleep to perform well in practice. Because my essay is very casual the sources are referenced within the text and I have a few of them posted below. Enjoy!
While we may not often think about why we sleep, most of us acknowledge at some level that sleep makes us feel better. We feel more alert, more energetic, happier, and better able to function following a good night of sleep. As a college athlete, I know first-hand how hard a practice can be the day after getting little to no sleep the night before. However, the fact that sleep makes us feel better and that going without sleep makes us feel worse only begins to explain why sleep might be necessary. Getting enough sleep is essential to living a healthy lifestyle.
One way to think about the function of sleep is to compare it to another part of our lives: eating. We’ve all had those late night munchies where, for whatever reason, we consume anything we can get our hands on. When, not surprisingly, the two are much related. Both eating and sleeping are regulated by powerful internal drives. Going without food produces the uncomfortable sensation of hunger, while going without sleep obviously makes us feel sleepy. And just as eating relieves hunger, sleeping relieves sleepiness. Still, the question remains: Why do we need sleep at all? Is there a single primary function of sleep, or does sleep serve many functions?
Scientists have explored the question of why we sleep from many different angles. They have examined what happens when humans or other animals are deprived of sleep. In other studies, they have looked at sleep patterns in a variety of organisms to see if similarities or differences among species might show something about sleep’s functions. Yet, despite decades of research and many discoveries about other aspects of sleep, the question of why we sleep has been difficult to answer.
The lack of a clear answer to this question does not mean that this research has been a waste of time. In fact, we now know much more about sleep in general, and scientists have developed several promising theories to explain why we sleep. In light of the evidence they have gathered, it seems likely that no single theory will ever be proven correct. Instead, we may find that sleep is explained by two or more of these explanations. The hope is that by better understanding why we sleep, we will learn to understand sleep’s functions more and enjoy the health benefits it affords.
One of the earliest theories of sleep, sometimes called the adaptive or evolutionary theory, suggests that inactivity at night is an adaptation that served a survival function by keeping organisms out of harm’s way at times when they would be particularly vulnerable. The theory suggests that animals that were able to stay still and quiet during these periods of vulnerability had an advantage over other animals that remained active. These animals did not have accidents during activities in the dark, for example, and were not killed by predators. Through natural selection, this behavioral strategy presumably evolved to become what we now recognize as sleep. A simple counter-argument to this theory is that it is always safer to remain conscious in order to be able to react to an emergency (even if lying still in the dark at night). Thus, there does not seem to be any advantage of being unconscious and asleep if safety is paramount.
Although it may be less apparent to people living in societies in which food sources are plentiful, one of the strongest factors in natural selection is competition for and effective utilization of energy resources. The energy conservation theory suggests that the primary function of sleep is to reduce an individual’s energy demand and expenditure during part of the day or night, especially at times when it is least efficient to search for food.
Research has also shown that energy metabolism is significantly reduced during sleep. For example, both body temperature and caloric demand decrease during sleep. Such evidence supports the proposition that one of the primary functions of sleep is to help organisms conserve their energy resources. Many scientists consider this theory to be related to, and part of, the inactivity theory.
What seems to be the biggest explanation for why we sleep is based on the long-held belief that sleep serves to restore what is lost in the body while we are awake. Sleep provides an opportunity for the body to repair and rejuvenate itself. In recent years, these ideas have gained support from empirical evidence collected in human and animal studies. The most striking of these is that animals deprived entirely of sleep lose all immune function and die in just a matter of weeks. This is further supported by findings that many of the major restorative functions in the body like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release usually occur during sleep.
In addition to sleeping at night, there are always the mid-day naps you’re always trying to fit in. Naps are split into three main groups: planned, emergency, and habitual. Planned comes into play when you set a specific time aside to sleep, before you’re tired knowing you will be sleep deprived in the future without it. Emergency is when drowsiness keeps you from being able to function at your normal capacity. Lastly, habitual is practiced when a person takes a nap at the same time every day. Any one of these short naps of 20-30 minutes is said to have a great improvement on alertness and performance with making you feel groggy.
Furthermore, short naps during the day can help you at night while driving. Most people are aware that driving while sleepy is extremely dangerous. Still, many drivers press on when they feel drowsy in spite of the risks, putting themselves and others in harm’s way. While getting a full night’s sleep before driving is the ideal, taking a short nap before can reduce a person’s risk of having an accident.
Depending on the person, a regular day’s work may cause fatigue and performance impairments, especially for night shift workers. In a 2006 study, researchers at the Sleep Medicine and Research Center affiliated with St. John’s Mercy Medical Center and St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis, MO, looked at the effectiveness of taking naps and consuming caffeine to cope with sleepiness during the night shift. They found that both naps and caffeine improved alertness and performance among night shift workers and that the combination of naps and caffeine had the most beneficial effect. James K. Walsh, PhD, one of the researchers who conducted the study, explains, “Because of the body’s propensity for sleep at night, being alert and productive on the night shift can be challenging, even if you’ve had enough daytime sleep.” “Napping before work combined with consuming caffeine while on the job is an effective strategy for remaining alert on the night shift.”
Discovery Fit & Health suggests that if you find you need a nap every day, take it at the same time so your body can develop a rhythm that incorporates the nap. If you try to take a nap but are unable to sleep, simply resting with your eyes closed may help restore some alertness and energy. It’s also possible to use naps to temper the negative effects of an anticipated sleep deficit. For instance, if you know you are going to be up late because of special plans, take a prolonged nap of two to three hours earlier in the day. This has been shown to reduce fatigue at the normal bedtime and improve alertness, although it may throw off your normal sleep rhythm temporarily.
In today’s world, we always hear about staying up all night and having the time of our lives. Or the common phrase of “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” When in reality, we need that sleep to keep us going. As college students and young adults, there are always going to be those days where we do stay up and don’t get as much as we most likely need. But, on the other hand, without it, we wouldn’t be able to function as well as we can. So, next time you are feeling exhausted or tired in that lecture hall, go ahead and doze off for a bit. Who knows, maybe the time you gave your brain to rest will result in knowing everything you just missed.