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How Important is Sleep?

The right amount of sleep and the quality of sleep is critical and has a profound effect on the body and on the mind.  While sleep requirements are highly individualized, adults generally need at least 7-9 hours a night to function optimally.

The body and mind are as active in sleep as they are while awake.  An electroencephalogram, (EEG), measuring brain waves indicates the brain cycles through different states of consciousness during sleep.

The mind moves in and out of dram states and actively restores vital chemical balances.  This is all in preparation for a new day.  The body goes through 4 states of sleep, ranging from light to deep.  The REM (rapid eye movement) cycle or deep sleep is required to process and store information acquired while awake.  Research suggests it  is during this stage the body restores organs, bones and tissues, replenishes immune cells, and circulates a rejuvenating supply of growth hormone.

Clearly, REM sleep is crucial for proper functioning of the body, brain and psyche.  Otherwise, a variety of health issues can arise.  For example, if the amount of growth hormone secretion decreases, weight gain increases.  Lack of proper sleep may inhibit a small, but necessary drop in blood pressure, contributing to hypertension and cardiovascular problems.  Insufficient sleep can impair the body’s ability to use insulin, leading to the onset of diabetes.  In addition to physical problems, emotional and mental impairments are often attributed in part to inadequate sleep patterns.

The quality and quantity of sleep is crucial to health, safety and overall well-being.  Getting a good night’s rest impacts every aspect of life – at home, at work, in relationships, in communities, and behind the wheel of a car.  For these reasons, it is imperative to dedicate at least 7 straight hours to sleep a night.  In addition, a 20-minute power nap in the afternoon will rejuvenate the body and mind, keeping them energized and sharp until the end of the day.  Finally, the ears, shoulders, hips, and ankles must be in alignment during sleep.   Invest in yourself and take the time to find the mattress or sleep system that allows you to accomplish this.

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Written by Brooks Juneau

June 1, 2006 at 7:59 pm

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