Sleep gets a big tick when it comes to making the most of that very important organ: your unique and incredible brain.

It’s vital for learning, good health and your capacity to keep yourself safe. And it’s certainly not ‘lost’ time. Sleep deprivation is actually a form of torture.

So how does sleep work?

During sleep, our brain is actually not completely asleep: there is stuff it can only do when the rest of us is pretty much turned down or knocked out.

Sleep is absolutely crucial for learning: for building your memory. If fact while we sleep, our brains are busy ‘filing’ our memories for us. Therefore, sleep deprivation is a BIG problem if you are in a VCE, VCAL or VET program.

One expert says that without adequate sleep your brain’s ‘inbox’ basically shuts down next day.
(You might look fully awake but it’s more a case of: the lights are on but nobody’s home.)

Sleep also impacts your immune system. The World Health Organisation has recently classified night-shift work as a probable cause of cancer. (Yikes!)

Lack of sleep prevents your cardiovascular system from having a ‘slow down.’ Remember, your heart muscle never gets to completely rest—that would be called death—but it slows down a great deal when you’re asleep.

Sleep is also essential for adequate testosterone (male sex hormone) levels in young men.

One of the other things your brain does while you sleep is to get rid of a toxic protein called beta amyloid that accumulates in your brain tissue during your waking hours. When we are unable to sleep, that toxic crap builds up. This ghastly protein is associated with dementia later in life.

Sleep deprivation starts to kick in once we’ve been awake for more than 16 hours. So if you are awake at 7am then ideally your brain and body needs you to be dozing off again no later than 11pm.

After 20 hours of wakefulness, the research says, you might as well be drunk.

If you are having trouble sleeping, take it seriously. Find out what you can do to change your pattern. Check out the youtube clips below and/or talk to someone who can help you.

6 scientific tricks for falling asleep

The benefits of a good night’s sleep – Shai Marcu