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Sleep is an important part of staying healthy

23 October, 2012

As mild as it may seem, sleep is a key element in the pursuit of a healthful life. It is naturally a part of the cycle of our days and allows the body and brain to rejuvenate. But why does truly restful sleep seem to elude so many of us? What is this low-level sleep deprivation doing to our bodies and our health?

The “curse” of modernity

Modern life is at odds with good sleep habits. Our 24-hour-a-day entertainment culture, late-night food delivery, unusual working shifts and even electric lights are undermining what our bodies actually need! Illnesses and interruptions (even good ones, like caring for babies), although they are difficult to avoid, can wreak havoc on your health.

What we need

Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. The effects of a truly “bad” night or two, with no sleep, are immediately obvious—there will be a noticeable impairment to your cognitive function, physical abilities and mood. If allowed, your body will try to correct for this kind of disruption as soon as possible.

Harder to correct, however, is the low-level sleep restriction that is so common in our lives. Trouble falling asleep, a late movie or phone conversation with a friend, an early-morning flight, interruptions from children—there are dozens of things that can eat away at our ideal amount of sleep. The effects of this cumulative sleep loss may not be obvious, beyond feeling the need for a caffeinated beverage in the morning.

Watch your health!

Unfortunately, feeling a little slow without coffee or a touch sleepy in the afternoon is just the beginning of the problem. Sleep deprivation is associated with a suppressed immune system; you’re less able to fight off the germs we are exposed to every day and take longer to recover when you do get sick.

Recent studies have tied restricted sleep to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a state where fat cells do not properly respond to insulin, a hormone that is involved in the control of the body’s metabolism; failure to address insulin resistance will lead to Type 2 diabetes!

Make sleep a priority

As difficult as it is to resist the lure of the constant stream of information and entertainment coming our way, it’s an important thing to do! Don’t let the conscious and hard-won choices of better eating habits, supplementing to achieve ideal nutrition and exercise be damaged by sleep deprivation. Build a better sleep routine today!

 
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