We often overlook the obvious. You maybe familiar with the expression, “ it was right under your nose. ”
Well, I felt that way when I recently learned about how much we can improve our health just by more sleep. Essential for improving the quality of our lives, sleep is a vital, often overlooked resource, yet free & within easy reach of the comfort of our beds.
For many, cutting back on sleep is one way to cope with work, school, family or household responsibilities. Contary to previous beliefs that sleep allowed the brain and the body to just rest, recent studies indicate that the body is working hard to ensure our good health during sleep. If we cut down on the number of hours of sleep, we lose out on essential benefits to good health & quality living.
These are a few interesting resources where you can learn more about the benefits of sleep. The first is from The National Institutes of Health,
Your Guide to Healthy Sleep.
The second is an article titled, “The More You Sleep The Longer You Live ” published in the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, September, 2nd, 2007, by Dr. Keith Humphreys, a professor in Psychiatry at Stanford University.
Sleep needs vary from person to person. There are some individuals who function well on 3-4 hours of sleep a day. On average:
- adults needs between 6-8 hours sleep a night
- newborns may sleep between 16 and 18 hours
- children in preschool sleep between 10 and 12 hours
- School-aged children and teens need at least
9 hours of sleep a night.
According to Dr. Keith Humphreys “sleep is the most undervalued contributor to optimum health and performance.” Sleep is vital for our general health and development and may increase your life span by a few years.
In a study of over 7,000 residents over a nine year period in Alameda County in California, it was found that people who routinely slept 6 or fewer hours per night had about 70% higher risk of dying than did people of similar age that slept 7 or eight hours a night.
Stages of Sleep
Sleep was thought to be just a down time, a section of time that we are not awake. However sleep studies done
over the past several decades show that the brain stays active throughout sleep.
For a detailed description of the 5 stages of sleep please click on this link,
How Sleep Works.
The quantity as well as the quality of sleep is important. Premature endings of sleep & constant interruptions deprives one of certain stages of sleep and the health benefits associated with those stages are lost.
Sleep affects us in the following areas.
Diet and Sleep
Did you know that the number of hours of sleep may be tied to our ability to stick to a diet?
Hormones that regulate appetite are Ghrelin and Leptin.
Ghrelin is produced in the stomach and signals the brain when it is time to eat. Leptin which is produced by adipose tissue or fat has the opposite effect, signaling the brain that you are full.
Chronic lack of sleep increases Ghrelin and decreases Leptin so that you feel hungry even when you do not need to eat. This is what leads us to eat more even
after we have eaten the required calories.
Things to Consider
Feeling and functioning well the next day depends on how much of each stage of sleep you get and the number of hours of sleep. So please consider how you can make your day a better one by making sure you sleep enough.
Please use the Contact page & write in with your views, comments & questions about sleep. I will follow up with articles on steps that you can take to have a better night's sleep.
If you have any questions or would like to comment on sleep please email me, Nirmala, at
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