Saturday, June 6, 2009

Benefits of Sleep

Everyone knows that sleep deprivation can cause problems. When I’m in need of sleep, I feel drained and lethargic. I don’t concentrate well and I tend to be irritable. In order to persuade myself to get a few extra z’s, I’ve been researching the health benefits of sleep.

Heart Health

Apparently the cycle of sleep does something to keep cholesterol levels and blood pressure down. What would happen to the pharmacy industry if we treated high blood pressure with more sleep?

Cancer Prevention

Melatonin needs dark and quiet to be produced in the body. Without it, we don’t get sleepy, and we are at a higher risk for cancer. Sleep also allows the body to repair damaged cells and reduce inflammation in the body.

Stress Reduction

When we’re well rested, our bodies are less likely to produce stress hormones that can cause inflammation in the body and also make it difficult to sleep. Sleep also refreshes the mind to deal with problems in new ways.

Alertness

Sleeping refreshes the mind and the body, allowing us to have more energy and to remain more alert during the day. If we use that energy to do new and active things when we’re awake, we will be more likely to be able to fall asleep at night.

Memory

Our dreams help us to process the day’s information. With proper amounts of sleep our memory functions properly, and we’re better able to make connections and solve problems. Sleep deprivation can cause short-term memory issues similar to dementia.

Weight Loss

Adequate sleep ensures the proper balance of hormones that control appetite. Studies have linked fewer hours of sleep with obesity. Obviously, the fewer hours you are awake, the fewer hours you have available to consume calories.

Less Depression

Serotonin, a brain chemical responsible mood regulation, is kept in balance with proper amounts of sleep. Unfortunately, depression itself can cause insomnia, making it hard to get enough sleep.

Body Repair

During sleep our bodies repair themselves from damage done during the day. That’s why increased rest is recommended when we’re sick. Our body needs the extra time to fight infection and fix itself.

The irony of this article is I am trying to function on about five hours of sleep and a full weekend at this very moment. It’s been humbling to try to work through spelling errors, impatience, and a wandering mind to complete it. To all of you who are trying to skate by on minimum sleep, you’re cheating yourself and those around you. Go to bed! Even a nap is good for you.

Mom, Dad… “I told you so” is not appropriate at this point. :)

Source: Stibich, Mark. “Top 10 Health Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep.” http://longevity.about.com/od/lifelongenergy/tp/healthy_sleep.htm

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