Benefits of Sleep!
Consistently getting a good night’s sleep is vital to great health and a sense of wellbeing. I say consistently because one or two nights a week of good sleep is just not enough. Our quality of sleep depends on many factors, two of which are when we sleep (day or night), and quantity of sleep (hours a night we sleep). We all have experienced how great we feel after a good night’s sleep, yet sleep is often not thought about when we think about our overall health.
Surprisingly when we sleep things don’t just shut down, actually the opposite is true. Our bodies and brain are hard at work. According to Dr. Merrill Mitler a neuroscientist at NIH(Nation Institute Of Health), “Sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness, and mood”
Not getting enough sleep can negatively impact our ability to solve problems and attention to detail. Our productivity at work could suffer from lack of sleep.
We feel better when we sleep well. It impacts our heart, weight, mind, and more.
- Heart Health
When we sleep our heart rate goes down as well as our blood pressure giving our heart a chance to rest. We are at a greater risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease when we don’t get enough sleep – regardless of age, weight, smoking, and exercise habits.
While it is not completely understood why it is researchers know that lack of good sleep causes interruptions in biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammation. Oversleeping can be just as bad for us as well.
This is true for younger as well as older people. One study found that even adolescents who didn’t sleep well have a higher risk of being overweight, having higher blood pressure, and hypertension.
Not sleeping enough has been linked to a higher risk factor for obesity. It has been found that people who don’t sleep enough have a bigger appetite and will eat more than people who are well-rested. Sleep and lack of it can cause higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates the appetite.
This is true for both children and adults.
- Mental acuity and concentration:
Our ability to solve problems make rational decisions, concentration, cognition, and memory all improve when we get quality sleep. Lack of getting quality sleep has been compared to alcohol intoxication.
Having insomnia 3 nights a week or more for a month has been shown to have a negative impact on exhaustion, irritability, and concentration.
Our minds are busy when we sleep. Our memories are strengthened. Through a process called consolidation we even practice skills learned when we were awake.
The Stages of Sleep:
There are four or five stages of sleep, depending on who you ask. The first 3 or 4 stages are called non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM). The last stage of sleep is known as rapid eye movement sleep (REM). Since it is always the last stage of sleep that is REM, for the purpose of keeping this as simple as possible we will consider 4 total stages of sleep.
1. Stage one:
Helps us transition from wakefulness to sleep. Our muscles start to relax, heart rate, breathing slow down, our core body temperature drops. Brain waves also start to change and become less active. This stage usually lasts only a few minutes.
2. Stage 2:
This is the longest stage of the sleep cycle. Our bodies go into an even deeper state of relaxation, along with even slower breathing and our eye movements stop.
This stage is the longest stage of sleep.
3. Stage 3:
Deep sleep begins. Our muscles are the most relaxed, breathing, heart rate, and our brain waves are at their lowest levels. This is considered the restorative state of sleep. Your energy is being restored, your cells are being repaired as well as tissues and muscle. You need to complete this phase to feel rested and refreshed.
4. Stage four REM:
This is stage is where we see rapid eye movement. Our brain waves, heart rate and breathing all begin to speed up. Our muscles remain in a paralytic state. We dream at this stage and our brains process information. It is believed that this stage is important in memory consolidation and learning. It is believed that this stage of sleep is where our brains process our emotions and helps us to regulate them.
So, what happens if we don’t get enough sleep:
- We are not as alert
- We can feel sleepy during the day
- Our memories and thinking can be impaired
- We can feel moodier causing more conflicts with others
- We can become less likely to participate in daily activities or exercise
- More likely to have accidents.
- Can contribute to:
- high blood pressure
- Heart failure or Heart attack
So, does anyone not understand how important sleep is?
Sleep is definitely one of the 5 pillars of personal health. Make more time for sleep and you can make more out of your time by being more focused and alert. You will be awake, refreshed, and ready to take on the challenges in life. With a better frame of mind and a stronger healthier body, you realize a tremendous gain in the quality of your life.
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