We are often told of the importance of a good night's sleep and how we should try to avoid becoming sleep deprived for whatever reason.
There are many health benefits of sleep but...
Why do we need enough sleep?
- Too many people think of sleep as something that can be sacrificed in favor of everything else. Melatonin is vital but as it is only produced during darkness, you need to make sure your room is darkened at night. Light stimulates that part of the brain that tells the pineal gland to decrease the melatonin level when it is daytime and to increase it when it is night time and dark. You can reduce any light source gradually to improve both the quality of your sleep and the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and get that rest.
- Sleep is vital for your immune system as, along with exercise and diet, good quality sleep is one of the 3 main components that keep your body running smoothly and your immune system strong, ensuring you wake up energized.
Inflammation is one of the greatest causes of health problems today but sleep helps to reduce inflammation. Any increase in your stress hormones, because of lack of sleep, can raise the level of inflammation. As well as heart-related conditions, this can also be a risk factor for cancer, diabetes, arthritis and more.
- Sleep boosts our memories while even naps can make us smarter.
- Suffering from tiredness can increase your stress levels, even causing you to think irrationally.
Here are two new health benefits to add to the list.
- Even a lack of sunlight can affect the quality of your sleep, impacting on that circadian rhythm which is the process that controls the body clock so that you can end up with unfortunate symptoms that are not unlike jet lag – including morning mood swings, low energy, increased appetite plus a feeling of being withdrawn and passive. Take away the sunlight and you experience an increase in the levels of melatonin – that hormone responsible for making you feel sleepy – and a decrease in the levels of seratonin which is often called the happy hormone. A deficiency in serotonin can lead to depression while a sleep-deprived body can cause stress so that all its functions are on high alert. Such a state can increase blood pressure and the production of stress hormones adding to risk factors for heart attacks and strokes. You need sunlight in the day time and real darkness at night.
Sleep deprivation linked to Alzheimer's
A lack of regular deep sleep allows the protein beta-amyloid
to increase in the brain and can trigger Alzheimer's disease
according to a new study.
Matthew Walker of the University of California
in Berkeley tells us: “Sleep helps to wash away toxic proteins at night.
Sleep aids your productivity at work
Yes - even if you have had a heavy night out with drinking, following it with a good night's sleep of at least 7 hours will ensure that your productivity at work the next day will not suffer. A combined study was carried out by Cambridge University
in the UK (and the research organization Rand Europe) on 21 000 employees and found there was no correlation between workers drinking and smoking - and their work productivity, if they had slept for 7 to 8 hours the night before.
Shaun Subel of Vitality Health
, (the health and life insurance company) who commissioned the study, said that the research looked only at short-term productivity effects. However, he went on to say to employers: “If you want your workers to be productive in the long term, you might wish to stop them developing the health problems that are associated with smoking and excessive drinking.
Alarms and snooze buttons
Meanwhile, are you addicted to your snooze button? One survey has found that over a third of those in the US use the snooze button on their alarms 3 to 4 times every morning.
But alarms and that snooze button are not the healthiest way to end your night of sleep and begin your day.
During a sleeping cycle, our bodies shift into different brain level states, of which the most crucial is the REM (rapid eye movement) state. Before we naturally wake up, the brain sends out hormones (such as cortisol and adrenaline) to help us to change from the REM state to a lighter state of sleep. But when an alarm triggers an early and sudden wakefulness, this interrupts our natural waking up process. It can lead to us feeling sleepy for hours or even the whole day ahead.
What is the solution?
One is to set the alarm for the actual time you have to get out of bed, while another solution is to place your alarm far enough from your bed that you have to get out of bed to reach it.
In an ideal world, you could change to a natural waking and bed time schedule where you go to bed and wake up at exactly the same time every night and every morning so that you train both your brain and body without having to resort to an alarm. But how many of us live in an ideal world?
Our own H-Insomnia Formula
is a natural, gentle and safe sleep aid for mild to chronic insomnia.