Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rethink the Role of Sleep

Everybody knows that sleep is an important part of everyone’s day, but how important is it? Many of us skimp on sleep, maybe you should think twice before staying up late again. The consequences of losing sleep could be devastating to your health and quality of life.

A lack of sleep can lead to obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. People who consistently lose sleep show alterations in their metabolism which inhibit the ability to manage glucose levels by making cells increasingly insulin resistant. Sleeplessness can lead to an imbalance in the release of stress hormones, including cortisol which leads to weight gain. Sleep deprivation may also lead to a decrease of life expectancy. People who sleep less also have an impairment of judgment and reaction time.

Sleep affects our physical and mental health, and is important for the correct functioning of all the systems of our body. Sleep is needed for our nervous systems to work properly. A lack of sleep makes a person drowsy and unable to concentrate the following day. It also leads to an impaired memory and physical performance. A lack of sleep also results in the reduced ability to carry out mathematical calculations. If sleep deprivation continues, hallucinations and mood swings can occur. The immune system also takes a hit with a lack of sleep. Without sleep the immune system is compromised and affects your ability to fight disease and sickness. So why is sleep important?

Sleep is an essential dynamic process in which our brains are active during sleep. While sleeping, we repair our bodies from the day. We also organize our thought and events of the day. Sleep helps to reduce the levels of stress and inflammation in your body to decrease the risk of heart disease and strokes. Sleep can also help keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check. High blood pressure can cause wear and tear on your body and degenerate cells, which accelerate the aging process. Sleep helps to slow these effects and induces relaxation. Sleep helps regulate the hormones that control appetite. It is important to create a sleep promoting environment and get the recommended amount of sleep.

So how much sleep do you need? Adults need 7-9 hours which varies for each person. If you have problems falling asleep, develop a sleep routine. Turn off all electronics close to bed time. Also, you can try making some tea, resting on a comfortable mattress or reading a book.

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