Luxury or Necessity
by: Christine Darrington
people feel that sleep is a waste of time. They have busy lives
with work and families so they try to squeeze every minute out
of every day. They finally surrender to sleep when they are
absolutely exhausted. The problem they are not recognizing is
that when you are sleep deprived, you are forcing your body to
work at a disadvantage. An exhausted body cannot work to it’s
full potential, mentally or physically.
Sleep studies around the world have shown that the lack of sleep
affects your physical, mental, and emotional life. A study at
the University of Wisconsin showed that sleep deprivation can
cause a number of health problems such as depression, heart
problems, and alertness while performing important tasks such as
driving.. Another sleep test reported by the magazine “Science
News” reported that when 48 volunteers were deprived of sleep
for a period of two weeks, it reduced their mental abilities.
This included alertness, reaction time, and memory.
Sleep is natures way of allowing our bodies to rejuvenate. There
are two stages of sleep. REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM.
During REM sleep the body is able to experience complete muscle
relaxation, this allows us to wake up feeling physically
refreshed. REM sleep is also the time when our blood pressure
and heart rate lower, and the time when our brain secretes a
hormone called cortisol. Without cortisol our bodies will not
have the sufficient means to combat circulatory diseases. This
REM sleep is also when the circulatory system rests and this
helps to avoid cardiovascular disease.
Sleep is also the time when our bodies combat and metabolize
free radicals. Free radicals are the molecules that are said to
increase the aging process and even cause cancer. Sleep
deprivation is also linked to the lack of production of white
blood cells. We all know that we need these to fight infection.
Sleep can seriously affect our appetite. Our brain interprets
lack of sleep as hunger. While we sleep our bodies secrete a
hormone called leptin. Leptin is what tells our brain that we
are full when we eat. When we are awake for longer periods of
time our bodies do not have the opportunity to produce leptin.
This, in turn, causes us to feel hungry and crave carbohydrates.
Thus, sleep deprivation can easily lead to another health
Sleep deprivation is not just a problem here in the United
States. In Portugal three out of four people report that they go
to bed after midnight and still get up early and go to work. The
Japanese seem to sleep the least, over forty percent report that
they get six hours of sleep or less. In fact, a report on sleep
deprivation from Japan reported that tests done on those who
only got four to five and a half hours of sleep each night did
poorly on tests that measured memory, clear thinking, and the
ability to pay attention. The Australians, on the other hand,
are in bed around ten o’clock and get around nine hours of sleep
each night. I think they have the right idea.
Copyright 2006 Christine Darrington
Sleep Infocenter in Holisticonline.com
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