Sleep and Your Health
Sleep – wonderful, restorative Sleep. We all know how refreshed we feel after a good night’s sleep, but is “feeling good” just a feeling? In truth, adequate, quality sleep has major health benefits as well. While you are sleeping, your internal systems are working hard to keep you healthy in mind and body. The central nervous system, immune system, respiratory system, digestive system, cardiovascular system, and endocrine system are all dependent upon the amount and quality of your sleep to keep your body in good working order.
Here are just a few of the health benefits of a good night’s sleep:
- Improved Memory. While you sleep a process called consolidation occurs. This process strengthens memories and re-enforces skills learned while you were awake.
- Extended Life Span. Sleep allows the body to regenerate itself and improves the quality of your waking life.
- Reduced Inflammation-linked Diseases. Sleep increases the body’s immune system, which helps keep diseases like heart disease, diabetes and arthritis in check.
- Increased Creativity. Sleep helps the brain restructure memory to enhance talent and ability.
- Increased Stamina. Sleep decreases daytime fatigue leading to improved performance at work, school or during recreational activities like sports.
- Improved Mental Capacity and Attention Span. Sleep rejuvenates the brain, reducing functional impairment and increasing mental ability.
- Healthy Weight Management. Sleep and metabolic function are controlled by the same sectors of the brain. Adequate sleep helps control the hormones that drive hunger.
- Reduction in Stress and Depression. Sleep helps the body control blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as decreasing the anxiety that often leads to depression.
Sleep and Your Cardiovascular Health
Sleep, surprisingly, has a profound effect on cardiovascular health. Too much or too little sleep creates serious cardiovascular problems that can lead to chronic heart disease, stroke, and/or premature death.
Recent studies involving nearly 500,00 people have shown that too little sleep – less than 6 hours a night – increases the risk of developing or dying from coronary heart disease by nearly 48%. Follow up studies on these same groups indicated a 15% increase in the risk stroke. Those in the studies who slept 9 or more hours a night showed a 38% increase in coronary heart disease and a 65% increased risk of stroke.
While sleep patterns may not necessarily be the primary cause of cardiovascular complications, it is obvious that the amount and quality of nightly sleep are certainly a contributing factor. Research into the possibility of reversing the effects of too much or too little sleep is relatively new and the ability to monitor effects are not always accurate. The best rule of thumb to avoid sleep-related cardiovascular problems would be to keep your nighttime routine to 6 to 8 hours of undisturbed sleep.
Sleep and Your Mental Health
Sleep deprivation has become a major health crisis in the United States. While we often feel the physical effects, many of us don’t realized the effect that our sleep patterns have on our mental well-being. Statistics show that nearly 1 in 5 Americans exhibits some form mental illness. Of those diagnosed with psychiatric illness, 50% to 80% complain of ongoing sleep problems. In comparison, only 20% of the general population have similar complaints.
The chemical disruptions caused by sleep problems can be both a cause and a symptom of mental disorders. Some psychiatric problems like depression, insomnia, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and bipolar disorder can adversely affect sleep patterns, while some like anxiety can be triggered by sleep deprivation.
Many of the effects of sleep deprivation may be modified or avoided completely by simply resetting your sleep pattern to the recommended 6 to 8 hours nightly. A process called chronotherapy is an excellent, drug-free place to start your re-set. Chronotherapy involves changing your bedtime and wake-up time a little bit each day until your schedule is where it should be. This change of schedule allows the melatonin (the body chemical that promotes sleep) in your system to be released at the proper time to insure quality, restorative sleep.
Other suggestions include meditation, a warm bath, a cooler bedroom, and reducing stimulating activities near bedtime.
A good mattress can also make a difference in the quality of your sleep. At Mindy’s Ohio Mattress, we carry a full line of top name mattresses at competitive prices. You’re sure to find one that will have you sleeping like a baby again. Contact us today for more information.