Sleep- why do we need it? I mean other than the fact that it means you won’t have to witness a very cranky Bhavna when I’ve not had much sleep. There’s got to be more to it than a happy functioning individual. There have been multiple studies on the purpose of sleep and with multiple studies, comes multiple theories. So, let’s explore some of the proposed theories! 1. Inactivity Theoryà also known as adaptive or evolutionary theory, a survival of the fittest tactic allowing animals to stay awake at night so that they would not be killed by predators. 2. Energy Conservation Theoryà reduce the amount of energy reserve so that it is available during necessary times. 3. Restorative Theoryà to replenish during sleep what was used while awake. Sleep allows for the body to rejuvenate itself. Deprived sleep will result in loss of immune function and even death in a matter of weeks. This is because the body is unable to restore major muscle groups, protein synthesis and release growth hormones which occur during sleep. Restorative theory also finds that rejuvenation allows for cognitive functioning; adenosine produced as a by-product of cells’ activities determines the body’s want for sleep. 4. Brain Plasticity Theoryà not entirely understood but critical for brain development amongst infants and young children. The restorative theory is one which I can relate to. As I mentioned, when I am sleep deprived I am easily irritable and can be very cranky. Lack of sleep impedes in my ability to remain in the moment with my clients and also proves to be a challenge when I am trying to find the words to explain a concept or express myself. Other factors such as sleep quality and amount of sleep one gets in a night are also important to sleep. Without exploring these in much detail, the essential point I would like to drive home is that sleep is critical for self-care amongst all, but particularly for counsellors. Our role requires us to be vigilant, present in the moment, alert, and mentally focused while in session. Our response- verbal and nonverbal may be the difference between life and death for some clients. Therefore, it is imperative that we begin to create a sleep regimen and give importance to our sleep not only so that we can stay alert and away from potential threat and give our minds and bodies the break it needs to be able to prepare for the next day; but also to be able to provide the best service possible to our clients.
By Bhavna Verma
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA