Dec 12

Sleeping 101: Why You Need a Good Night’s Sleep

Half of us (adults) just don't get enough sleep. Sometimes I feel like sleep is almost a luxury because there's so much to do and so little time to do it!

Shame on me – I should know better. You and I need quality sleep for our health. Not getting enough sleep affects our body and our mind. Getting good restorative sleep is more than putting your head on a pillow. It means putting yourself through sleep cycles with specific sleep stages all of which are vital to your body. When you don't get enough of the right kind of sleep you get drowsy during the day, you can't concentrate and you tend to get crabby. Besides, you're more likely to have an accident and your productivity level goes way down.

Sleep and Your Brain

One of the more important pieces of information I've concentrated on writing these posts about sleeping is that your brain needs sleep if it's going to work well. The latest research suggests that while you are sleeping your brain is busy processing the day's information. It scans through recently formed memories, stabilizing, copying and filing them, so they will be more useful the next day and I the future. A good night's sleep can make memories resistant to interference from other information and allow you to recall and use that information more effectively.

Sleep not only strengthens memories, it also lets our brain sift through newly formed memories identifying what is worth keeping and what gets tossed. When a memory contains both emotional and unemotional elements, sleep saves the important emotional parts. It can analyze collections of memories and figure out what is common among them.

Sleep and Your Immune System

We are all familiar with being very tired after a major project and then coming down with a cold. That's not an accident. Sleep is essential to our immune system. Without enough sleep, your immune system becomes weak and your body is more vulnerable to infection and disease.

Sleep and Your Nervous System

Sleep is also the time your neurons get to rest and repair themselves. Neurons carry our voluntary and involuntary commands such as moving your arm and breathing. Studies suggest that sleep downtime of the brain replenishes energy stores that help the brain to function. Sleep is also the time that repair takes place to the cellular damage caused by your metabolism and new nerve cells are even grown in the brain.

Not getting enough sleep is not joke. If you're one of those people who think 5 hours of sleep is all you need, you may be surprised to learn that you're actually sleep deprived. That can be dangerous, not only to you but to others since it affects motor skills like driving. Chronic sleep deprivation is also thought to cause long term changes to the body which contributes to increased risk for obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

In my next post I'll write about what you can do to get a good night's sleep. In the meantime, share your tips on getting enough sleep or what you do when you can't sleep. Scroll down to Comments and type your tips in the blank window.

To your successful aging.

Ruthan Brodsky

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