World Sleep Day today: Many neurological diseases are associated with lack of sleep; annual event aims to highlight importance

World Sleep Day, observed on 15 March, is intended to highlight the importance of sleep. It is a call to action on crucial elements related to sleep, which include medication for sleep, education to increase awareness and social aspects. The annual event is organised by the World Sleep Day committee of World Sleep Society, the official website says. "(The day) aims to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders."

World Sleep Day today: Many neurological diseases are associated with lack of sleep; annual event aims to highlight importance

Representational image. Wikimedia Commons

The annual awareness event was started by healthcare providers and members of the medical community, who are working in the area of sleep medicine and research. "The goal of the first World Sleep Day was to bring together sleep specialists to discuss and distribute sleep information around the world".

Why was World Sleep Day created? "Time and time again, sleep medicine professionals and researchers came up against the belief that sleep was not important enough in personal health and well-being to be a priority. That coupled with society’s 24/7 flow, the founders of this awareness event aim to celebrate the importance of healthy sleep," the website says.

Why sleep is important

Sleep is the period of time that our bodies use to recharge. However, although we are sleeping, our brains are still active. Sleep is required our bodies and brains to replenish themselves. Sleep experts call this the "sleep architecture", which is a pattern that occurs in ninety-minute cycles when we are asleep, a Financial Express report said.

It is a changing pattern of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. The act of falling asleep starts at the molecular level through a 'neurotransmitter'. This is a chemical that acts on nuerons (nerve cells) in the brain to alert our bodies to the fact that it should be asleep. The neurons then switch off the signals that keep us awake.

Once the neurons have given the signal, says, we pass through four stages of sleep, as well as REM sleep. The brain goes into "overdrive" during the period of sleep, because the brain is working "to clear itself of toxic byproducts that naturally accumulate throughout the day."

The website says, "Many neurological diseases are associated with a lack of sleep, perhaps because when you don't get your zzz's, your brain doesn’t have this chance to cleanse itself."

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Mar 15, 2019 07:57:06 IST