Sleep is as vital to you and I as oxygen, water, and food. An interesting fact to note is that you can actually go longer without food than you can without sleep before it starts to seriously affect your health. In particular, sleep deprivation affects your brain, and it doesn't take very long for it to do so.

Our brains depend on sleep, and quality sleep at that, to maintain optimum function and stability. Everything from your memory to your emotional stability, which all starts in the various brain centers, rely on you getting high quality, bountiful amounts of shut eye.

Research has even shown that going over 24 hours of sleep deprivation can seriously impact your brain's ability to function. More than 24 hours, and you are talking temporary insanity-like symptoms. Youch.

That just goes to show how vital R&R is for our brain and body to recuperate from a day's worth of thinking, problem solving, and dealing with situations that require you to focus and "be present".

Other research has linked lack of quality sleep to obesity and difficulty in maintaining a healthy weight. When we don't get enough sleep, not only can we not focus properly and perform at high levels of concentration, but we also have a more hearty appetite. We tend to crave carbohydrates more for that energy fuel that we missed out on which a night of quality sleep would have given us.

There is also a lot of evidence that sleep deprivation lends itself to increased stress levels, depression, mood swings, fatigue (surprise) and a host of other unsavory problems that inhibit us from optimal functioning during the day.

And when it comes to naps, it seems like those in Mexico and other countries where the mid day "siesta" is common place, have the advantage over us Americans who work right on through our tired times of the day. New experiments have shown that mid day naps can actually increase your ability to memorize things. The boost to memory only occurs it seems, in those that actually dream while they take their nap.

Those that did not show dreaming activity in the areas of the brain that light up during dreaming actually did not show improved memorization skills like those that dreamt during their nap. What does this say? That dreaming also plays an important role in our mind's ability to focus, memorize and perform critical tasks.

The reason behind this discrepancy amongst dreamers and non dreamers is that scientists think we problem solve in our dreams. They theorize that we piece together things that we couldn't consciously piece together during our waking hours, and that dreaming actually adds to our ability to problem solve and figure out complex issues that we might not otherwise be able to figure out on our own.

I've even heard theories that we may actually lose our minds if we somehow lost our ability to dream during sleep, and that this is part of the reason why we lose all ability to function properly when we can't sleep.

It's fascinating to contemplate the ways in which sleep impacts our performance and our outlook during the day. I can say from personal experience that I am much brighter and have a better disposition after a good night's sleep, and I can perform mentally demanding tasks much more efficiently. I think the same goes for anyone, and this is why it's so important that you get your solid 8 hours every night if you possibly can.

Author's Bio: 

Danna Norek is the owner and frequent contributor to several weblogs and websites that are dedicated to natural supplements, herbal remedies, and beauty. You can find more information on natural sleep aids here at Melatrol Natural Sleep Aid Review and also you can find ways to increase your energy, brain power, and youth restoring hormone, HGH at HGH Enhancers.