In this generation, we hear a lot about diet, nutrition, exercise, healthy and unhealthy habits constantly. We might even get so caught up in the drift that we get worried or obsessed and lose sleep over it. The Western and especially our American culture is intensely “up.” The nation is built on a powerful work ethic.
We believe that the early bird gets the worm. We’re hard core producers. Energy drinks have become a huge business, while the excitement about coffee continues to boom. But if we don’t balance that activity with enough rest, our bodies and brain function begin to decline.
There are metabolic processes, including those related to learning and memory formation, which only occur during deep sleep. A dangerous factor of sleep deprivation is that the person is losing strength incrementally, and is likely not to notice.
Below are 7 reasons why all humans, men, women, children and elderly, busy or bored, need to take sleep seriously. Think of it like a vitamin. Without it, the body cannot live or function optimally. But by making sleep a priority, hundreds and maybe thousands of systemic functions in your body will be restored to balance, promoting your overall well-being and making you look good.
7 Reasons to Get An Adequate Dose of Vitamin Z’s
1. Sleep is as essential as food.
It’s too dangerous to test humans, but lab studies have shown that animals kept awake indefinitely, died in five weeks. Humans deprived of sleep in short-term studies showed a compromised immune system and overall degrade in well-being. Alive and well is always in style. Feed yourself adequately with plenty of shut-eye.
2. Be restored and rejuvenated.
During REM, the body produces peak levels of growth hormone, which initiates tissue and cell repair. As you slip into dreamland, your body is healing itself from the inside-out.
3. Heal and nourish your skin.
The healing processes during sleep also help to keep skin young and beautiful. When starving for sleep, your body produces an excess of cortisone, a stress hormone. Cortisone then breaks down collagen. The skin thins, fine lines appear, and the complexion becomes sallow. Yet, when you add adequate rest to a reasonably healthy body, cells repair, collagen increases, and you awake with a healthy glow.
4. Burn fat and ward off type II diabetes.
Lack of sleep weakens the body’s ability to process sugar. At the same time, it produces more of the “hunger” hormone ghrelin, and less of the “satisfaction” hormone leptin. The result is a bigger appetite, slower metabolism, heightened risk of developing type II diabetes, and weight gain.
5. Get more done.
Today’s Western drive to succeed often equates sleep with laziness, and treats exhaustion as a moral good. But going without enough R&R negatively effects productivity. Researchers have found that sleep deprivation causes the same or worse effects than drunkenness. These include impaired judgment, slower reaction time and difficulty concentrating. Conversely, subjects with lots of sleep not only look better, but learn faster, work harder and last longer.
6. Be emotionally stable.
Irritability and crankiness are not sexy. Too little sleep causes more activity in the emotion centers of your brain, and less in the reasoning centers. The result? You’re more likely to react irrationally and with negative emotions. So if you’re getting snappy, maybe take a nappy.
7. “In bed at eleven, wired at seven.”
Adults typically need 7-9 hours of quality sleep; teenagers around 10 hours. If you get less than the prescribed dose before the alarm sounds, plan to take a nap. Your body will happily play catch up, and you’ll often find a powernap makes for a nice energy boost!
To help ensure that your sleep is regular and deep, make sure your bedroom is conducive. As much as possible, get rid of any distracting, blinking lights. Turn off the computer. Studies show that the electricity moving them actually affect our brains at a cellular level and can interfere with restfulness. The psychological component is also valid. Seeing or hearing your laptop makes you more likely to be thinking, and less likely to be dreaming.
Your room should also be dark. If you can’t prevent light from coming in, consider investing a few dollars in a sleep mask. You need total darkness at sleep time because production of the “sleep hormone” melatonin is inhibited by light exposure. Conversely, during the day, do your best to get large amounts of fresh, preferably natural sunlight. Your body will become accustomed to being fully awake in bright light, thus suppressing melatonin, and then fully at rest, producing adequate amounts of the hormone through the night until the lights come back on.
I hope that your sleep is deep, your dreams are sweet, and your mornings are bright.