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The Importance of Sleep

Sleep is the power source that keeps our minds alert and calm. Every night and/or while napping, sleep recharges the brain's battery. Sleep clears the mind by removing daily toxins. Sleeping well increases brainpower just as weight-lifting builds stronger muscles, because sleeping well increases your attention span and allows you to be physically relaxed and mentally alert at the same time.

A study in the UK found that a good night’s sleep is roughly the equivalent of 8 weeks of therapy or winning a jackpot of $250,000. It seems strange to measure the value of sleep in these terms, however with so many people not getting healthy sleep, researchers are looking for creative ways to communicate just how important it is.

Lower Body Weight - People with short sleep durations have one of the strongest risk factors for obesity and tend to weight significantly more than those who get adequate sleep. The effect of sleep on weight gain is believed to be mediated by numerous factors including, hormones and motivation to exercise.

Eating Fewer Calories - Studies have shown that good sleepers tend to eat fewer calories and that sleep-deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more. Sleep deprivation disrupts the daily fluctuations in appetite hormones and is believed to cause poor appetite regulation. This includes higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite and reduced levels of leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite.

Brain Function - Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function including: cognition, concentration, productivity and performance. One study found that short sleep can negatively impact some aspects of brain function to a similar degree as alcohol intoxication.

Better Health - Sleep quality and duration can have a major effect on many health risk factors including heart disease and stroke. A review of 15 studies found that people who don’t get enough sleep are at a far greater risk of heart disease or stroke than those who sleep 7-8 hours per night. In addition, poor sleep habits are strongly linked to adverse effects on blood sugar in the general population.

Even a small loss of sleep has been shown to impair immune function. If you often get colds, ensuring that you get at least 8 hours of sleep a night could be very helpful.

Sleep can also have a major effect on inflammation in your body. In fact, sleep loss is known to activate undesirable markers of inflammation and cell damage. Poor sleep has been strongly linked to long-term inflammation of the digestive tract, in disorders known as inflammatory bowel disease.

Mental Health - Mental health issues, such as depression, are also strongly linked to poor sleep quality and sleeping disorders. It has been estimated the 90% of the people with depression complain about sleep quality. Those with sleeping disorders such as insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea also report significantly higher rates of depression than those without.

Emotional and Social Impacts - Sleep loss also reduces your ability to interact socially. Researchers believe that poor sleep affects your ability to recognize important social cues and process emotional information.

Along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of health. You simply cannot achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep. Quality sleep today, prevents the diseases of tomorrow!

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