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The Importance of Sleep

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For some, sleep deprivation is a common occurrence, but constantly interrupting the sleep cycle can be dangerous. When we become sleep deprived, it affects us in a multitude of ways:

Mood Swings
Not being able to sleep well can affect our moods during the day. Some of us become irritable, short, and even indifferent. 

Cognitive Function Slows
Cognitive function is also affected by a lack of sleep. Problem solving, memory retention, recall, and focus can all decline when we are robbed of deep sleep or slow-wave sleep at night. Productivity and creativity levels are compromised when our circadian rhythms are interrupted and we fail to achieve the necessary sleep stages. 

Poor Coordination
Physically, a lack of sleep can be detrimental to your coordination. The brain fails to function properly without adequate sleep, so the signals that are being sent to your body are compromised. 

Researchers are trying to find scientific evidence to explain the mysteries of sleep, but the current consensus is that sleep is imperative for a healthy and full life. 


Ten Reasons For A Good Nights Sleep 

1.Sleep helps you feel your best 

The idea that it’s necessary to get eight hours of sleep each night partly comes from studies that asked people how much time they normally spend sleeping. Eight hours is the norm for the amount of time that most people sleep, but on an individual basis, it’s the amount of sleep that allows you to wake up feeling refreshed and able to stay awake during the day. 

2. Sleep protects you from heart disease and Type 2 diabetes 

While it’s normal to go through bouts of disturbed sleep, if you’re routinely waking up groggy over several years, your health may be at risk.
Insufficient sleep can result in an impact on immune function and cardiovascular risk. There’s also a link between weight gain and reduced sleep. Studies have also shown a link between sleep deprivation and increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

3. Sleeping burns calories

How many calories does an extra two hours of sleep burn? Almost 300, according to a study at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. Researchers at the college asked 32 summer students to keep diaries noting how much sleep they got and what foods they ate over a three-week period. The first week, students stuck to their normal eating and sleeping schedules so researchers could see their normal routine. The second week, students were asked to sleep an extra two hours a day. The third week, students returned to their normal routine. When researchers compared the students’ diaries after the third week, they found that the students who got an extra two hours of sleep in week 2 ate nearly 300 calories a day less than in week 1. When they returned to their normal sleep-deprived routines in week 3, they ate more food. 

4. Sleep keeps extra pounds at bay 

A study of 68,000 women conducted at Harvard Medical School revealed that women who sleep five hours a night are 32 percent more likely to gain 30 pounds or more as they get older than women who sleep seven hours or more. 

Common sense says that someone who’s awake and running around should be using up more calories than someone who’s in bed. Running around should make them slimmer, right? But the study, conducted over a 16-year period, revealed that even when the women who slept longer ate more, they still gained less weight than women who slept less. 

5. Sleep boosts your immune system 

Sleeping better may help you fight off illness. Sleep deprivation makes your body’s emergency stress system kick in. In a University of Chicago study, men who were vaccinated while being deprived of sleep (the subjects were not allowed to sleep more than four hours a night) produced less than half the antibodies to the flu virus that vaccinated men who got a full night’s rest did. 

6. Sleep improves brain function 

Not only does sleep deprivation lead to poor health, it also affects your concentration, problem-solving skills, memory and mood. Problems with memory, decreased social interaction and difficulty concentrating can all be linked to lack of sleep. 

7. Sleep helps you look better 

People who are limited to only four or five hours of sleep a night for several nights not only experience more physical ailments, such as headaches and stomach problems, but also undergo changes in metabolism similar to those occurring with normal ageing.  

8. Sleep improves your mood 

People with insomnia produce higher rates of stress hormones than others, according to new research. This puts their bodies in a hyper aroused state that can make it difficult for them to wind down. The inability to sleep causes more stress, which can have a devastating impact. People who don’t get enough sleep can become depressed, and that causes insomnia. Inversely, more and better quality sleep can make you feel happier. 

9. Sleep keeps cravings in check 

Sleep deprivation also influences your food choices, making you crave high-carb and high-sugar foods. This is because sleep loss decreases insulin sensitivity, putting the sleep-deprived at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. So sleeping more may make it easier to fight the cravings! 

10. Sleep improves social interactions

Sleep loss reduces your ability to interact socially. Several studies confirmed this using emotional facial recognition tests.1

One study found that people who hadn’t slept had a reduced ability to recognise expressions of anger and happiness.2

Researchers believe that poor sleep affects your ability to recognize important social cues and process emotional information.

1) J Sleep Res. 2014 Dec;23(6):657-663. doi: 10.1111/jsr.12192. Epub 2014 Aug 13.

2) Sleep. 2010 Mar;33(3):335-42.

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