Sleep: Why is it essential?

Woman at sleepHealthy sleep is as important to your health as diet and exercise. Many adults fail to get a healthy amount of rest, and still believe that it is merely an inconvenience. It may also be an important predictor of how long you will live, as important as whether you smoke, exercise, or have high blood pressure.

A good night’s sleep can:

  • Increase your ability to think clearly and function at a higher level.
  • Improve memory and your ability to learn.
  • Boost athletic performance by as much as 30%.
  • Protect your heart and decrease your risk of heart disease.
  • Improve your ability to fight off infection.
  • Increase your ability to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

What is healthy rest?

It is a combination of enough and quality of sleep. Restful sleep involves several stages in proper amounts. But how much is enough? The consensus among sleep researchers is that adults need (on average) about eight hours each night.

Adults need to rest about one hour for every two hours they are awake, which means that most of us need around eight hours of rest a night. Some people need more and some need less, and a few people seem to need a great deal more or less, but research suggests that people who rest about eight hours, on average, tend to live longer.

The normal sleep cycle.

In addition to the amount of sleep you need, you also need restful and complete sleep through a normal rest cycle. This means that you go through all of the cycles of and experience each of them for a sufficient amount of time.

There are four stages of sleep: Stages 1 through 4 are a progression, a succession of falling asleep Stage 1, then a light sleep, Stage 2 followed by a deep sleep in Stages 3 and 4. During deep this time, your body is in its most relaxed state. Muscles are relaxed, heart rate slows and blood pressure lowers, breathing rate and rhythm are diminished. During this time, your body also produces and releases human growth hormone. Each night your body repairs and restores itself with the help of this human growth hormone.

After deep rest, you enter REM, short for Rapid Eye Movement. REM is when we dream. Researchers have found that this also helps us remember what we learned the day before.

This is a vital part of rest, repair and renewal. A good night’s rest affects us physically, mentally, and emotionally. Take steps to ensure you get an adequate amount of uninterrupted, rest each night to ensure your health.

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