The Importance of Sleep for a Healthy Life

Health means proper diet, physical exercise and sleep.

It’s true that most of the time we think that diet and exercise are the critical components of healthy lifestyle, but sleep is also very important.  This process actually determines how much we eat, how we exercise, and how we function on a daily basis, in general. Getting the proper amount of sleep each night will help us function at our best in the next day. Sleep leads us to the road to good fitness, good eating and good health.

The studies of the human sleep couldn’t identify the exact mechanisms of how sleep works, how it rejuvenates the body and mind, but they have demonstrated that sleep progresses through a series of stages in which different brain wave patterns are displayed. There are five stages, the first four of them are known as Nosleep welln-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) Sleep (quiet sleep), while the fifth is the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep (active sleep or paradoxical sleep). Sleep does not progress through the stages in sequence, but it cycles through these stages approximately four or five times throughout the night.

In general, most healthy adults need an average of eight hours of sleep a night, but some individuals are able to function without any problems sleeping six hours each night, while other have to sleep 9-10 hours to be able to deal with daily tasks.

It is not known how sleep helps the body and mind, but it can be easily observed what happens when it is missing. In the initial stage, a person lacking sleep experiences irritability and moodiness. Apathy, slowed speech, impaired memory and an inability to be novel or multitask occur if the person still doesn’t sleep. The experience can continue with hypnagogic hallucinations, which usually occur in the beginning of REM sleep, as the person falls asleep for 5-10 seconds.

Psychologists and other scientists who study the causes of sleep disorders have shown that the lack of sleep determines abnormalities in the functioning of nervous and cardiovascular system and it has a bad influence over the metabolic functions and immune system.

Sleep deprivation inhibits one’s ability to lose weight. The human body creates two hormones- ghrelin and leptin: ghrelin signals the sense of hunger and leptin signals that you’ve had enough to eat. These hormones are regulated by the sleep, and so being chronically sleep deprived disrupts their finely balanced system, making you eat more without feeling full. The result is gaining weight.

If the lack of sleep causes some disorders, on the other hand, some mental disorders and physical conditions, such as hypertension, obesity and diabetes, arthritis etc, alcohol and drug abuse, stress, can cause difficulties to sleep. For example, insomnia appears as a symptom in major depressive disorder as postpartum blues, minor depression, mixed anxiety-depression, SAD and bipolar disorder.

To ensure you a healthy life, there are some rules to follow to make sure that you are sleeping enough. These include keeping a regular sleep/wake schedule; not eating, not drinking caffeine and not smoking near bedtime;  regular exercising and minimizing the noise, the light and high or low temperature in the bedroom.

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