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Why Sleep Is So Important For Your Health

by Larry Trivieri Jr

A good night’s sleep is one of the most important pillars for achieving and maintaining good health. It’s also often overlooked and, for tens of millions of Americans, very difficult to come by.

There are many reasons why sleep is important for overall health. Here are some of them:

Sleep helps to repair your body: During sleep your body produces extra protein molecules. These molecules help to mend and repair your body at a cellular level. This includes repairing damage caused by stress, pollutants, infection, too much sun exposure and free radical damage caused by poor diet and other factors.

Sleep helps keep your heart healthy: Your heart and cardiovascular system are constantly under pressure. That’s just a fact of daily life. Sleep helps to reduce the levels of stress and inflammation in your body. High levels of ‘inflammatory markers’ are linked to heart attacks, heart disease and strokes. Sleep can also help keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels (which play a role in heart disease) within healthy levels.

Sleep reduces stress: A good night’s sleep can lower blood pressure and the elevated levels of stress hormones which are a natural result of today’s fast paced lifestyle. There are physical effects of stress, such as excess ‘wear and tear’ on your body, and an increase in the aging and degeneration of organs, cells and other body parts. By reducing high levels of stress, sleep helps to reverse these effects and encourages a state of greater relaxation.

Sleep improves immune function: During deep sleep your body releases potent immune-enhancing substances that strengthen your immune system function. Lack of sleep can impair proper immune function, increasing susceptibility to infection and common illnesses such as cold and flu, respiratory conditions, and other diseases. Healthy, deep sleep also allows your body to release a significant amount of growth hormone that boosts the immune system and aids in the growth and repair of the body.

Sleep improves memory: As you sleep your brain has the opportunity to process, organize, and correlate memories and new experiences gained during the day. In addition, sleep leads to greater mental alertness and concentration, making it easier to process new skills and knowledge. Healthy sleep also acts as an excellent aid in protecting against moodiness, irritability, and other unhealthy emotions.

Sleep helps to maintain healthy weight: One of the lesser known benefits of sleep is that it helps regulate the hormones that affect and control your appetite. Studies have shown that when your body is deprived of sleep, these normal hormone balances are interrupted and your appetite increases, especially for foods high in calories, such as fats and carbohydrates, including sweets.

Based on the above, you can understand why sleep is so vital for your overall well-being.

Despite that fact, it is estimated that over 70 million Americans have trouble getting a good night’s sleep at least a few times each week. Additionally, each year in the United States businesses lose an estimated $70 to $100 billion due to lost productivity of workers directly due to lack of sleep. Far more alarming, 24,000 Americans die each year in motor vehicle accidents caused by lack of sleep. In addition, recent research has found that lack of sleep (as well as too much sleep) is a major risk factor for premature death due to the harmful health effects it causes.

Prior to the invention of the light bulb and electric lighting in homes, most Americans averaged nine hours of sleep each night. Today, especially during the work week, that number has been reduced to 6 or 7 hours of sleep for most Americans, and in some cases much less, especially among people who are middle-aged or older. Yet sleep researchers have found that, with few exceptions, most people require between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each and every night. That should be your goal, as well.

Larry Trivieri Jr is the bestselling author or co-author of 20 books on health and healing, including Outstanding Health: The 6 Essential Keys To Maximize Your Energy and Well Being, The Acid-Alkaline Food Guide and The Acid-Alkaline Lifestyle: The Complete Program For Better Health and Vitality. He has been researching health and healing methods for more than 25 years and during that time has interviewed and learned from more than 500 pioneering physicians and other health experts in the field of holistic and integrative medicine.

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