Sleep: Vital for Your Health and Longevity

Sleep is a period of rest – averaging 8 hours – with partial suspension of consciousness and physical and mental activity. Physiological activity is reduced and the body is enabled to repair itself by eliminating wastes and replenishing depleted tissues with needed constituents. The pulse rate slows down, blood pressure falls, breathing is slower and deeper, the temperature drops to its lowest level for the day, the basal metabolism is reduced, and the cerebrum (higher brain) is inactive except for dreams.

The amount of sleep needed varies mostly according to age, but everyone should have enough awaken rested and refreshed.

  • the normal adult requires 6.5  to  8 hours of sleep
  • the aged, 6 hours;
  • children of 2-3 yers old, 12-13 hours;
  • infants, almost all of the time.

For person who tire easily, an afternoon nap of about an hour is helpful. Coffee or tea drunk late at night often causes sleeplessness. The habit of taking sleeping pills is bad, as they depress vital functions and produce dependence upon them.

10 Health Benefits of  Sleep

Sleep, we all love it, especially when you wake up from a great night’s sleep. In the past, sleep was often ignored by doctors and surrounded by myths, but now we are beginning to understand the importance of sleep to overall health and well-being. In fact, when people get less than 6 or 7 hours of sleep each night, their risk for developing diseases begins to increase.

1. Sleep Keeps Your Heart Healthy

Heart attacks and strokes are more common during the early morning hours. This fact may be explained by the way sleep interacts with the blood vessels. Lack of sleep has been associated with worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol, all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Your heart will be healthier if you get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.

2. Sleep May Prevent Cancer

People working the late shift have a higher risk for breast and colon cancer. Researchers believe this link is caused by differing levels of melatonin in people who are exposed to light at night. Light exposure reduces the level of melatonin, a hormone that both makes us sleepy and is thought to protect against cancer. Melatonin appears to suppress the growth of tumors. Be sure that your bedroom is dark to help your body produce the melatonin it needs.

3. Sleep Reduces Stress

When your body is sleep deficient, it goes into a state of stress. The body’s functions are put on high alert which causes an increase in blood pressure and a production of stress hormones. Higher blood pressure increases your risk for heart attacks and strokes. The stress hormones also, unfortunately, make it harder for you to sleep.  Learn relaxation techniques to counter the effects of stress. There are also stress reduction techniques for sleep.

4. Sleep Reduces Inflammation

The increase in stress hormones raises the level of inflammation in your body, also creating more risk for heart-related conditions, as well as cancer and diabetes. Inflammation is thought to one of the causes of the deterioration of your body as you age.

Inflammation is an immune reaction on a cellular level to an irritant. Inflammation can show up on our skin in the form of puffiness, wrinkles, enlarged pores, sagging, blotchiness, and reddening of the skin.

Inflammation can be caused by an infection or allergy. However, much inflammation is caused by lifestyle factors that we can control or mediate.

Here are some simple anti-inflammatory measures to help your skin stay young:

  1. Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet.  Eliminate simple sugars and processed foods, while concentrating on healthy fats. These include those found in olive oil, cold water fish and nuts. Make sure you get plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables.
  2. Reduce Stress and Practice Breathing. Practice the relaxation response several times a day in order to reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone which accelerates aging.
  3. Take Supplements.  Taking vitamin and mineral supplements that contain  antioxidants like vitamins C and E and alpha lipoic acid can help combat the inflammatory damage wrought by free radicals in the body.
  4. Exercise.  Getting 30-45 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise five or more times per week may help reduce inflammation.
  5. Use Beauty Products with Anti-Inflammatory Properties. These include topical preparations with coenzyme Q-10, or vitamins E or C; these ingredients help block free-radical damage. In addition, skin products that contain mushroom extract, ginger, ginseng and/or alpha lipoic acid may reduce inflammation and protect cell structures.
  6. Get Enough Sleep.  The National Sleep Foundation maintains that 8 hours of sleep is optimal for healthy adults. Make sleep a priority and you will feel and look better.

5. Sleep Makes You More Alert

Of course, a good night’s sleep makes you feel energized and alert the next  day. Being engaged and active not  only feels great, it increases your chances for another good night’s sleep. When you wake up feeling refreshed, use that energy to get out into the daylight, do active things, and be engaged in your world. You’ll sleep better the next night and increase you daily energy level.

6. Sleep Bolsters Your Memory

Researchers do not fully understand why we sleep and dream, but a process called memory consolidation occurs during sleep. While your body may be resting, your brain is busy processing your day, making connections between events, sensory input, feelings and memories. Your dreams and deep sleep are an important time for your brain to make memories and links. Getting more quality sleep will help you remember and process things better.

7. Sleep May Help You Lose Weight

Researchers have also found that people who sleep less than seven hours per night are more likely to be overweight or obese. It is thought that the lack of sleep impacts the balance of hormones in the body that affect appetite. The hormones ghrelin and leptin, important for the regulation of appetite, have been found to be disrupted by lack of sleep. So if you are interested in controlling or  losing weight, don’t forget to pay attention to getting a good night’s sleep.

8. Naps Make You Smarter

Napping during the day is not only an effective and refreshing alternative to caffeine, it can also protect your health and make you more productive. A study of 24,000 Greek adults showed that people who napped several times a week had a lower risk for dying from heart disease. People who nap at work have much lower levels of stress. Napping also improves memory, cognitive function and mood.

9. Sleep May Reduce Your Risk for Depression

Sleep impacts many of the chemicals in your body, including serotonin. People with a deficiency in serotonin are more likely to suffer from depression. You can help to prevent depression by making sure you are getting the right amount of sleep, between 7 and 9 hours each night.

10. Sleep Helps the Body Make Repairs

Sleep is a time for your body to repair damage caused by stress, ultraviolet rays and other harmful exposures. Your cells produce more protein while you are sleeping. These protein molecules form the building blocks for cells, allowing them to repair damage.

Reference:

  1. Fishbein’s Medical and Health Encyclopedia“, HS Suttman CO., INC, CT., 1982
  2. www.wikipedia.org