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Sleep as Nature’s Best Medicine: The Health Benefits It Provides

Benefits of Sleep

Sleep frequently falls to the bottom of our list of priorities, for a variety of reasons. However, in the middle of our hectic schedules, we frequently forget the restorative power that a restful night’s sleep can offer. It is important for our general well-being. As adults, we need adequate amounts otherwise the risk of health problems arises.

Getting a good night’s rest helps you awaken refreshed and ready for the day. Without it, you feel tired and unable to function properly. The risk of stroke, heart disease, or high blood pressure rises with ongoing disturbances, poor sleep, or lack of sleep at night.

This blog will detail why it’s so important that we get enough sleep, what happens when we sleep, and what we can do to ensure we get good quality sleep at night.

Healthy sleep plays a role in lowing heart disease risk.

What is Sleep?

Reduced sensory awareness and inhibition of voluntary muscular movement are two characteristics. A naturally occurring repeating state of altered consciousness. It is an important physiological function that keeps one’s physical, mental, and emotional health in check. The body goes through several intricate physiological and neurological changes when we sleep, which help with things like hormone balance, memory consolidation, and tissue repair.

Sleep Stages

There are four stages of sleep, three are non-rapid eye movement(NREM). The last is rapid eye movement (REM). Each stage serves to get closer to a deep state.

As we sleep we go through the four stages several times, sometimes up to six times in a night.

Stage 1 – Light NREM

This is the lightest stage as we try to fall asleep. Our eye movements, brain waves, breathing, and heartbeat slow down as we relax our muscles. It could take several minutes or more.

Stage 2 – Deeper NREM

Brain waves slow down but there are bursts of activity as memories get processed. Eye movements stop and muscles relax even more as body temperature lowers. This takes 25 minutes during the first stage cycle and then increases each time the body cycle restarts.

Slow wave sleep.

Stage 3 – Deepest NREM

Your muscles are fully relaxed, and your heart rate, brain waves, and breathing are at their lowest as you go into your deepest stage. The body starts its background activity to build and repair, grow tissue, and strengthen the immune system by fighting off any infections. This causes you to feel renewed and is the most difficult stage to wake up from.

Stage 4 – REM and Dreaming

You start dreaming usually 90 minutes after the first stage. Your breathing and heart rate pick up and your eyes move through closed lids. There is brain activity but your muscles are mostly kept still.

How Much is Enough Sleep?

Adults need less than children but at least seven hours of a night. This was based on a study by the Sleep Research Society. This must be regular and of good quality, meaning no interruptions. Less than seven hours isn’t considered a good night’s rest.

Why is Sleep Important?

Memory and Thinking

Long-term memory storage and your ability to learn and process information relies on good sleep. Everything that happened during the day is stored and information is processed based on those new memories.

Supports memory consolidation and mental functioning in most adults.

Immune System

Your body has immune cells that work when you rest. Our bodies recover, repair damage, and regenerate cells, which leads to stronger immune function.

Hormones and Weight Gain

When we sleep cortisol is made and emitted throughout the body. This makes us feel alert and helps us wake up.

Insufficient sleep means the hunger hormone increases, making you feel hungry during these awake times. They mostly make you crave foods high in calories, fat, and sugar. The hormones that make you feel full decrease which is why you may overeat and run the risk of weight gain.  Your sleep patterns control your weight, you also start to retain more salt in the body which makes it difficult to lose weight.

Safety

The less we sleep the slower our reactions, judgment, reflexes, decision-making, and ability to focus become. When this happens we are not able to make safe decisions and could be a danger to ourselves and those around us.

Emotional Intelligence and Social Interactions

Lack of sleep can lead to risky behavior and mood swings. It is difficult to control our emotions when we are tired. It also makes it difficult for us to cope in social situations and be able to regulate our emotions. We also find it difficult to recognize other people’s expressions and emotions, making social interactions difficult. This could result in isolation as social settings become too difficult to cope with.

Inflammation

Sleep helps regulate the central nervous system. When we sleep less than we should or our sleep is interrupted, specific inflammation markers get flagged resulting in high inflammation in the body. This negative effect is higher in women than in men.

Seven hours of sleep decreases inflammation.

Disease Risk

You could run the risk of diseases like stroke, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, or high blood pressure due to lack of sleep. If sleep deprivation continues it could also cause certain cancers or Alzheimer’s disease.

Type 2 Diabetes

Constant sleep disruption could mean your body is unable to process insulin resulting in insulin resistance. This has been the case for people who have obstructive sleep apnea making them high-risk for Type 2 diabetes. This condition disrupts slow-wave sleep while reducing oxygen intake. Both of these factors result in lowered glucose metabolism and insulin resistance.

Productivity and Concentration

If you are sleepy you’re not alert and your ability to concentrate drops. This lowers your productivity levels. Mental capacity is impaired when you haven’t slept enough so you cannot problem-solve as quickly and hold onto information. According to this study physicians who didn’t sleep enough, made more mistakes.

Important for productivity.

Physical Performance

It isn’t just your brain that needs sleep to function optimally, your muscles need it too. Endurance, power, fine motor skills, and reaction time all improve when you get enough. Research suggests that sleep loss increases the chance of an injury from physical activity.

Stress and Mental Health

Anxiety and depression are two mental health conditions that could be related to difficulty sleeping. Sleeping lowers stress levels because you can cope and have clarity. Your cortisol hormone is lowered and melatonin kicks in to allow you to rest fully. Stress is lowered when your sleep quality and quantity are increased. You also feel less irritable and grumpy.

Are Naps Allowed?

Short sleeping periods or “naps” have been known to be beneficial as long as it’s taken many hours before your bedtime. By sleeping for 10 to 20 minutes, it can boost your energy levels and help you complete the rest of the day’s tasks. So if you need a nap, make it short and only take it during the day.

Lowers the risk of lung diseases.

What Is Sleep Deprivation?

Poor sleep quality or trouble falling asleep could come from sleep disorders like insomnia or sleep apnea to things like anxiety, asthma, drugs, stress, caffeine, alcohol, pain, medication, or even heartburn.

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Unless you have a sleep disorder or medical condition preventing you from sleeping, there are a few things you can try to promote good quality sleep.

Create a Habit

Create a healthy sleep habit by going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time each morning. After a few weeks, this schedule becomes a routine and you will have no trouble sleeping.

Relaxed Muscles

Tense muscles keep your body stiff and result in improper sleep. Relax your body when it is time to go to bed.

Device Usage

Stop using devices at least one hour before it’s time to sleep and ensure there are no blue light filters in the room.

School aged children and adults need to curb device usage.

Bedroom Setup

Make sure your bedroom is comfortable, quiet, dark, and at the right temperature. It must be inviting and comfortable to fall asleep.

Hunger

If you are so hungry whilst you are trying to fall asleep, it may prevent you from sleeping. In this case have a light snack to ease the hunger sensation A heavy meal will result in discomfort.

Activity

Get active during the day and not close to bedtime. Physical activity helps you to get better sleep at night but avoid activity too close to bedtime.

Weekend Catchup

Don’t sleep more on the weekends to try to catch up because this isn’t possible. You can’t catch up. Rather try to keep to the same routine each day so you get enough sleep every night.

Supplements

Well of Life Sleep Restore includes sleep-enhancing vitamins and herbs. It supports your sleep needs and therefore it may assist you in achieving adequate quality sleep, allowing you to feel rested and restored with elements such as melatonin and magnesium.

A healthy adult uses the right supplement.

What Are Sleep Disorders?

These are medical conditions that can cause chronic sleep deprivation. Often sleep medicine is required for the chronically sleep-deprived to feel sleepy and get more sleep. Sleep disorders can have the following symptoms:

  • Being unable to move your body at first when you wake up in the morning.

  • Difficulty falling asleep.

  • Constant loud snoring.

  • You feel a crawling or tingling sensation in your arms or legs that only stops once you move.

  • Being unable to stay asleep.

  • Your breathing stops now and then for a few seconds.

  • Gasping while you sleep.

  • Feeling sleepy during the day makes it difficult to do everyday activities.

Types of Sleep Disorders

  1. Sleep Apnea

  2. Restless Legs Syndrome(RLS)

  3. Insomnia

  4. Narcolepsy

Key Takeaways

As we come to the end of our blog into sleep as nature’s best medicine, we are reminded that getting enough good sleep affects our overall health and well-being. We’ve learned about the several advantages sleep provides, including improved cognitive performance, strengthened immune systems, and increased emotional resilience.

Sleep is a biological necessity, not just a luxury. Our bodies heal, renew, and revitalize during these peaceful sleep periods, setting us up to take on the challenges of every new day with strength and vigor.

Let’s embrace nature’s best medicine and enjoy all of the benefits it provides for our well-being. I wish you a restful night’s sleep and dreams that are full of hope for a better tomorrow.

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