Sleep your way to great health

Posted by Lighthouse Staff on

Have you noticed that when you are busy and sleep less to get things done, you are more likely to get sick? There is a reason for that. A recent study shows that lack of sleep can weaken your immune system. Your body then becomes less effective at defending itself against infections, such as cold and sore throat.

Seven or more hours of sleep is needed for optimal health. Yet, one­ third of today's working population gets less than six hours of sleep each night.

The study followed two twins, one of whom got on average one more hour of sleep each night than the other. Blood testing then revealed that the twin who got less sleep had a weaker immune response.

Sleep is restorative and supports immune system protein production. This helps our body's defenses function properly.

Sleep is as important as diet and exercise to optimal health. Prioritize it in your life and enjoy the benefits. If you have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor to make sure you do not have a sleep disorder. Obstructive sleep apnea is common in Bermuda, so if you have classic symptoms like snoring and waking up tired, definitely see a doctor.

There is no substitute for sleep. Energy drinks and coffee may help you feel temporarily more alert, but do not remove the need to get enough sleep.

Research also shows that a good night's sleep improves learning and problem­solving skills. Sleep also helps you concentrate, make decisions and be creative.

On the other hand, sleep deficiency has been linked to depression, suicide, and risky behavior.

Sleep helps in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Continued sleep deficity is linked to higher risk of heart and kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.

Sleep loss also increases the risk of obesity.

Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you do not get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you are well­rested.

People who are sleep deficient are less productive at work and in school. They take longer to finish tasks, have a slower reaction time and make more mistakes.

So get enough sleep. Start today.


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