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Do Not Underestimate the Health Importance of Sleep

We sleep for almost a third of our lives and take sleep for granted. However, most people are not aware of the huge importance of sleep for many vital functions in the body. The fact is that sleep is a free medicine that has no side effects, makes you fit for fighting and wards off diseases.


When we sleep, a long series of regenerating reactions happen in the body, making us healthy and disease free. To get the most possible out of sleep you should go to sleep at pretty much the same time every night and get up at the same time, and sleep in a cool, dark room. Adults need around 7 hours of sleep, whereas children need quite a bit more, depending on their age. If you get enough sleep in the correct environment, sleep will have a healing, preventative and restorative effect in many areas

When you sleep, the body’s energy consumption is lessened by reduced body temperature. When this is lower, the body does not need a lot of energy to keep going, which is why you do not have to eat at night. This is an evolutionary trick, found in almost all mammals; when it is dark it is hard to find food, so lowering energy consumption by lowering body temperature makes sense. 

Contrary to this, the body’s ability to lower the body temperature is disturbed if you do not sleep enough. A series of controversial studies showed this. In this, scientists prevented rodents from sleeping for weeks, by either giving them electrical shocks or putting them on a platform that tilted as soon as they closed their eyes. The animals died after a very short time, because their body temperature rose explosively; when they were not able to sleep their body’s thermostat completely failed.

Rebuilds Tissue

Sleep has been proven to have a big, beneficial effect in this area. When we are awake the organs are constantly working, which slowly breaks them down. The benefit of sleep on rebuilding them is very significant; during sleep we produce hormones that contribute to the restoration of the brain and vital organs. Furthermore the reduced energy consumption allows the body plenty of down time to do construction in the body.

importance of sleepA Strong Immune System

One of the effects of lack of sleep on the immune system is reduced production of certain chemicals. Interleukin-6 is one of these; an infection fighter that has also be proven to play an important part in the killing of cancer cells. 

Studies on rats have shown that they will develop various infections and die very quickly when robbed of sleep. The reason may be that the immune system’s white blood cells and antibodies stop reacting as they are supposed to.

Storage of Information

As mentioned before, another benefit of sleep is that it is vital for rebuilding the brain. This is especially true of the dream phase of sleeping; it is mainly here that we store events in out memory. During the so-called REM sleep we play a sort of film that works by directing the various information to the proper parts of the brain. 

Without sufficient sleep the information is not stored properly, making it much harder to recall events later. If you sleep too little your ability to learn will be greatly lessened. You might not have issues solving tasks that you are used to, but performing new ones might be much more difficult. 

importance of sleepEverybody knows the feeling of not being able to concentrate when being tired. However, new studies show that we also store information in the brain when we are awake, where scientist previously thought this only happened during sleep.

Cardiovascular Benefits

New studies show that another benefit of sleep is that it keeps our veins in good shape, making them able to expand and contract as they are supposed to. 

This means that not getting enough sleep can cause serious illnesses in the long-term. In the studies, the scientists followed a group of people, who slept at different amount of hours every night. 

 

The results showed that almost a third of the people who slept less than five hours every night had pathogenic atherosclerosis in their veins. In participants that slept an extra hour every night the number fell to every tenth, and the risks were by far the lowest in the people who slept more than 7 hours. 

 

The reasons for these results are not yet determined, but one possibility could be higher blood pressure in people who slept less. High blood pressure makes the risk of atherosclerosis higher.

Regulates Your Appetite

Recent studies have shown that bad or too little sleep can be a major contributing factor to obesity. An American study showed that people who sleep on average 7.7 hours every night were generally thinner than those who slept less. When we sleep the body reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol that regulates the appetite. 

If our blood contains a lot of this hormone we become hungry and feel like eating almost anything, which can cause over intake of calories. Whether you can sleep your way to weight loss is yet to be determined, but getting enough sleep will definitely help. Sleep is proven to have other weight related benefits; it increases the body’s sugar and fat burning functions

importance of sleepKeeps Your Spirit Up

The importance of sleep on your mood is immense. If you do not get enough sleep for more a longer period of time, it is guaranteed to be effected. There are many reasons for this, one being that lack of sleep causes hormonal imbalance

A French study showed that it took only six days with only four hours of sleep every night, to completely change a person’s hormonal profile. The hormonal profiles where similar to those of very aged people and people with depression.

Helps You Perform Better

This is true in every aspect of life, but especially for demanding physical activities. Lots and lots of sleep is a high priority for all elite athletes.


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