Importance of Sleep

Many people have come to think of sleep as a luxury that can be cut back on to make time for other “more important” daily activities without much consequence. However, research seems to indicate otherwise. It is impossible to be in truly good health without getting adequate sleep on a regular basis. Cutting back from the standard eight hours of sleep to four hours of sleep for just one week produces striking changes in glucose tolerance and endocrine function resembling the effects of advanced age or the early stages of diabetes.

Chronic sleep loss may speed the onset or increase the severity of type–2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and memory loss. Researchers in Australia suggest that sleep loss can be similar or worse than drinking too much alcohol. Staying awake for as little as 18 hours affects the body much the same as drinking alcohol to the legal limit. Sleep depravation plays a part in 2 out of 3 auto accidents in the US.

Many body organs are able to rest and recover during quiet relaxation, but the cerebral cortex of the brain that coordinates higher nervous activity is only able to recover during sleep. For the brain, the early part of sleep is the most important. The immune system is also greatly affected by sleep. With proper sleep, it can speed recovery from infections, prevent accidents, and ward off potential heart attacks. The adrenal system does the majority of it recharging and recovery between the hours of 11:00pm and 1:00am. The gallbladder also dumps toxins during this time. If you are awake, the toxins can back up into the liver and cause further health problems.

To get a good night sleep:

Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Get a bare minimum of 7.5 hours each night. (For many people, up to 9 hours is optimum.) You should be able to wake up without an alarm.

Your sleeping area should not be too warm. Not more than 70 degrees F. is best.

Make the room as dark as possible. This is especially important if your work schedule requires you to sleep during the day. Use as little light as possible if you must get up to use the bathroom.

Warming up cold feet may induce more restful sleep. Wearing socks or using an old fashion hot water bottle may help if you have trouble falling asleep.

Avoid alcohol before bed. Alcohol will keep you from falling into the deeper stages of sleep where the body does most of its healing. [ Copyright © 2004 World Image Naturals™, Inc. ]

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