The Importance of Sleep!

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March is National Sleep Awareness Month! We all know how we feel when we don’t get enough sleep. Let’s face it, many of us don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes that insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. Let’s look a bit more closely at the facts surrounding sleep.

What happens when we sleep?:
-Blood pressure drops.
-Muscles are relaxed and receive more blood flow.
-Tissue growth and repair occurs.
-Hormones are released (such as growth hormone).Energy is provided to the brain and the body.(1)
 
How much sleep do we need?
Well…it varies by age.

Sleep

What happens when we don’t sleep?:
Accidents occur: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S. The problem is greatest among people under 25 years old.(2)
Sleep loss impedes cognitive function: Lack of sleep impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving.(2)
Lack of sleep is linked to depression.(2)
Loss of sleep can lead to weight gain: Recent research has focused on the link between sleep and the peptides that regulate appetite. Not only does sleep loss appear to stimulate appetite. It also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods.(2)
Sleep deprivation can lead to serious health issues: Chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for:
– Heart Disease
– Heart Attack
– Heart Failure
– Irregular Heart Beat
– High Blood Pressure
– Stroke
– Diabetes(2)
Chronic sleep deprivation can also jeopardize your ability to heal.  Just one night of less than six hours of sleep negatively affects the expression of more than 700 genes the next day.  This leads to weakened immunity, increased inflammation and decreased cell repair(3)

Sleep facts and teens:
The Better Health Channel offers the following advice for teens:
The typical teenage brain wants to go to bed late and sleep late the following morning.  Work on adjusting your body clock and check out these tips:
– Choose a relaxing bedtime routine, for example, have a hot bath before bedSleep Pic
– Avoid loud music, homework, computer games for about an hour prior to bedtime
– Start your bedtime routine a little earlier than usual (for example, 10 minutes)
– Avoid staying up late on weekends.(4)
– Make your room a sleep haven.  Keep it cool, quiet and dark (1)
– Don’t eat, drink or exercise within a few hours of your bedtime.(1)

References
1. http://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/what-happens-when-you-sleep
2. http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/10-results-sleep-loss?page=1
3. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-healing-factor/201303/the-healing-significance-sleep
4. www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bharticles.nsf/pages/Teenagers_sleep
5. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-healing-factor/201303/the-healing-ignificance-sleep

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