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January 21, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Science, Health Science, Immunology
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The importance of sleep How sleep affects your mood, concentration and sense of wellbeing

Why is sleep important? Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life and safety During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. The damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant (such as a car crash), or it can harm you over time. For example, ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for hypertension, heart problems, and stroke to name a few... It can also affect how well you think, react, work, learn and get along with others.

Healthy Mind Sleep helps your brain work properly. While you are sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day by forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information. One night of good sleep can improve your ability to learn new motor skills by 20%. Studies show that a good night’s sleep improves learning and problem solving skills. Sleep also helps you pay attention, make decisions and be creative. Eight hours of quality sleep increases your ability to gain new insight into complex problems by 50%. Lack of sleep alters activity in some parts of the brain. Sleep deficiency has been linked to depression, suicide and risk taking behavior.

Healthy Body Sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. Sleep deficiency also increases the risk of obesity...in one study, for each hour of sleep lost, the odds of becoming obese went up. Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don’t get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down therefore you feel hungrier than when you are well-rested. Sleep also affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood sugar level. Lack of sleep results in a higher than normal blood sugar level which may increase your risk for diabetes.

Sleep also supports healthy growth and development. Deep sleep triggers the body to release hormones that boost muscle mass and help repair cells and tissues. And sleep plays a role in fertility. Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. This system defends your body against foreign or harmful substances. If you are sleep deficient, you may have trouble fighting off that cold that is going around...

Daytime performance & safety People who are sleep deficient are less productive at work and school. They take longer to finish tasks, have slower reaction times and make more mistakes. After several nights of losing sleep, even a loss of 1-2 hours per night, your ability to function suffers as if you haven’t slept at all for a day or two. Lack of sleep may lead to microsleep--moments of sleep that occur when you are normally awake. For example, have you ever driven somewhere and then not remembered part of the trip? Some people aren’t aware of the risks of sleep deficiency and may think they can still function well with limited or poor-quality sleep. Studies show that sleep deficiency harms your driving ability as much if not more than being drunk. It’s estimated that driver sleepiness plays a role in about 100,000 car accidents EACH YEAR, resulting in about 1,500 deaths. Drivers aren’t the only ones affected by sleep deficiency. People in all lines of work including health care workers, pilots, mechanics, and assembly line workers can be affected sometimes resulting in human errors linked to tragic accidents.

How much is enough? Age

Amount of Sleep



Preschool-aged kids


School-aged kids

at least 10



Adults (including elderly)


Don’t feel bad...25% of Americans get less than 6 hours of sleep/night

Sleep Hygiene Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. For children, have a set bedtime routine and don’t use the child’s bedroom for timeouts.

Try to keep the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends. Limit the difference to no more than about an hour. Staying up late and sleeping in late on weekends can disrupt your body clock's sleep–wake rhythm. (If you get migraines, it is especially important to follow this rule.) Use the hour (or two) before bed for quiet time. Avoid strenuous exercise and bright artificial light, such as from a TV or computer screen. The light may signal the brain that it's time to be awake. Avoid heavy and/or large meals within a couple hours of bedtime. (Having a light snack is okay.) Also, avoid alcoholic drinks at least 4 hours before bed. Avoid nicotine (for example, cigarettes) and caffeine (including caffeinated soda, coffee, tea, and chocolate). Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants, and both substances can interfere with sleep. The effects of caffeine can last as long as 8 hours. So, a cup of coffee in the late afternoon can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night. Spend time outside every day (when possible) and be physically active. Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark (a dim night light is fine, if needed). Take a hot bath or use relaxation techniques before bed.

What about you...? Do you have problems...

falling asleep? staying asleep?

early morning awakening? Or just not enough time in your super busy life to dedicate 7 hours to sleeping?

If you have problems falling asleep... Create a bat cave Turn off the TV and read before bed Create a bedtime routine (just like we try to do for our children) Take a warm shower and keep your bedroom cool (67-70 degrees)

Clear your mind by writing down everything that is worrying you or create a Grateful Log and write down 7 things each day Exercise early and often Cut out caffeine and nicotine and naps Try over the counter Melatonin supplements or CALM magnesium supplements to promote sleep No naps

If you have problems staying asleep/early awakening... Reset your biological clock by trying to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day and make sure you get at least 30 min/day of exposure to blue sky Go to bed an hour earlier (because we tend to wake up at almost the same time each morning) Trade your alarm clock for a dawn stimulator which works by gradually brightening the room over 30 minutes Practice visualization or sleep-inducing techniques. Focus your attention only on your toes, or visualize walking down an endless stairwell. Repetitive or mindless thoughts will help your brain shut down and adjust to sleep.

No time to sleep... Try for a 20 minute daytime nap ... studies show that it can increase your alertness by a whopping 54%

Install F.lux on your computer (if you have to work before bed). It’s a free computer program that reduces blue light emissions. Quality over quantity-- Try and master good sleep habits so you fall asleep quickly and sleep well as long as you can

Resources 1: National Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/healthtopics/topics/sdd/why.html II: North Carolina State University. http://healthcenter.ncsu.edu/counselingcenter/resources/mental-health-and-wellnesstopics/sleep/ III: Healthy Sleep. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/science/h ow/external-factors

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