Sleep

Claire Danes, star of the TV series Homeland, play a character who looks permanently in the need of a psychiatrist. She herself thinks that a good nap can be just as therapeutic as hours spent in psychiatric sessions.

The trouble is that most of us don’t seem to have time to sleep much anymore. Sleep is ignored, like parking our car in a garage and picking it up in the morning.
In previous generations once it got dark and the embers of the fire had petered out people often went to bed. Now we are busy doing things. Often things that rightfully belong to the ‘day’: bill payments, emails, work, online grocery shopping, writing, Googling…

This is the age of insomnia 🙁

The idea has taken hold that sleep is for ‘cissies’… but it isn’t.

Not only does sleep make you feel better; its importance goes way beyond just boosting your mood or banishing under-eye circles. Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and a shortage of it is linked to illness.

We know that going without sleep for too long makes us feel terrible, and that getting a good night’s sleep can make us feel ready to take on the world. According to recent research,. A lie in at the weekend is not enough to remedy the harm done by sleep deprivation during the day.

Scientists have gone to great lengths to fully understand sleep’s benefits. In studies of humans and other animals, they have discovered that sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital functions.

In the short term, a lack of adequate sleep can affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury.

In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality.
So here are some of the benefits of sleep:

Reduced disease risk

Study after study has revealed that people who sleep well are at less risk for a number of diseases and health problems.

Sleep, performance, and public safety

Lack of sleep exacts a toll on perception and judgment. In the workplace, its effects can be seen in reduced efficiency and productivity, errors, and accidents. Sometimes the effects can even be deadly, as in the case of drowsy driving fatalities.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2009 that being tired accounted for the highest number of fatal single-car run-off-the-road crashes due to the driver’s performance — even more than alcohol!

Sleepiness is grossly underrated as a problem by most people, but the cost to society is enormous. Sleeplessness affects reaction time and decision making.

Improve memory

Your mind is surprisingly busy while you snooze. During sleep you can strengthen memories or “practice” skills learned while you were awake (it’s a process called consolidation).

If you are trying to learn something, whether it’s physical or mental, you learn it to a certain point with practice. But something happens while you sleep that makes you learn it better.

In other words if you’re trying to learn something new — whether it’s Spanish or a new tennis swing — you’ll perform better after sleeping.

Live longer

Too little sleep is associated with a shorter lifespan — although it’s not clear if it’s a cause or effect. (Illnesses may affect sleep patterns too.)

In a 2010 study of women ages 50 to 79, more deaths occurred in women who got less than five hours or more than six and a half hours of sleep per night.

Curb inflammation

Inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature aging. Research indicates that people who get less sleep — six or fewer hours a night — have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more.

A 2010 study found that C-reactive protein, which is associated with heart attack risk, was higher in people who got six or fewer hours of sleep a night.

Spur creativity

Get a good night’s sleep before getting out the easel and paintbrushes or the pen and paper.

In addition to consolidating memories, or making them stronger, your brain appears to reorganize and restructure them, which may result in more creativity as well.

Researchers at Harvard University and Boston College found that people seem to strengthen the emotional components of a memory during sleep, which may help spur the creative process.

Be a winner

If you’re an athlete, there may be one simple way to improve your performance: sleep.

A Stanford University study found that college football players who tried to sleep at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their average sprint time and had less daytime fatigue and more stamina.

The results of this study reflect previous findings seen in tennis players and swimmers.

Improve concentration

Children between the ages of 10 and 16 who have sleep disordered breathing, which includes snoring, sleep apnea, and other types of interrupted breathing during sleep, are more likely to have problems with attention and learning, according to a 2010 study in the journal Sleep. This could lead to “significant functional impairment at school,” the study authors wrote.

In another study, college students who didn’t get enough sleep had worse grades than those who did.

Sharpen attention

A lack of sleep can result in ADHD-like symptoms in kids. Kids don’t react the same way to sleep deprivation as adults do. Whereas adults get sleepy, kids tend to get hyperactive.

A 2009 study in the journal Pediatrics found that children ages seven and eight who got less than about eight hours of sleep a night were more likely to be hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive.

Maintain a healthy weight

If you are thinking about going on a diet, you might want to plan an earlier bedtime too.

Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat — 56 percent of their weight loss — than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass. (They shed similar amounts of total weight regardless of sleep.)

When it comes to our health stress and sleep are nearly one and the same — and both can affect cardiovascular health.Sleep can definitely reduce levels of stress, and with that people can have better control of their blood pressure.

Steer clear of depression

Sleeping well means more to our overall well-being than simply avoiding irritability. A lack of sleep can contribute to depression. A good night’s sleep can really help a moody person decrease their anxiety. You get more emotional stability with good sleep.

Sleep is one of the most pleasurable activities.. and we could all do with more of it. Sadly sleep missed during the long hours put in during the week cannot necessarily be made up during the weekend. If you sleep more on the weekends, you simply aren’t sleeping enough in the week.
It’s all about finding a balance.

23rd February, 2014