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Everybody knows that sleep is important to you, but do you know just how important? They say it's always quality over quantity, but are you sure you are getting your hours worth each night? For some adults, if it isn't insomnia keeping them awake, it could be the pressure of job stress or even family obligations that's doing the job.
I must confess, even though I've written an article on sleep before (last year I believe), even to this day, getting a great night sleep isn't as easy as it sounds. Why? Well, for starters, bad habits die hard. When I was in my teens growing up, I would end up going to bed later and later, which ultimately caused my studying to suffer, and then my exams results. Secondly, stress in my adult life took it's toll. And before I knew it, my twenties had come and gone.
You see, that's the problem with a poor sleep schedule. Not only does it disrupt your body clock, but it makes the day wizz by without you appreciating it. And before you know, 6 months have already gone. By getting your sleep (somehow) you can make the most of your days and really appreciate being here in the moment. Here, I look at the top 6 benefits of getting your sleep.
1- Increases your immune system
Getting a good night sleep automatically boosts your bodies immune system, regardless if you eat plenty of fruit or not. If course, if you do eat your fruit, a good nights rest will naturally keep your body in good condition (from an illness view anyway). But even if you don't eat that much fruit (I must confess, I don't…) getting your sleep is a must for improved body immunity and a higher chance of fighting of illnesses.
Of course, if you do get ill, trying to get your sleep itself won't be easy, and if you're not careful, you may find yourself trapped in a viscous cycle, where you go to bed late and not dream much, followed by more illness, followed by more late sleep time etc. The trick is to find a way to relax, even attempt meditation (yes, I've done it, but not easy) so you can drift off and help your immune system. You can try listening to some Delta/Theta CD's to help you drift off, if that helps, or drink some soothing Chamomile tea.
2- Reduces depression
Getting your hours of sleep will certainly help elevate your mood, and help reduce mood swings. From a spiritual standpoint, it could be said that the more sleep you have, the more you feel the higher vibrations of your soul, as well as your Chakras having a good proportion of Qi energy, which trickles through when you are dreaming (It's been also said that dreaming is simply an unconscious out-of-body experience, as you are floating slightly above your body, so the Qi energy can trickle through and nourish your Chakras).
From a non-spiritual standpoint, getting you sleep does help with your mood, and also helps you to see the positive in a situation, when you would normally see the negative giving you a balanced and fair viewpoint at the situation at hand. And of course, it means that you don't get stressed and anxious that easily, which means that you can better cope with tough tasks when they head in your direction.
3- Reduces the risk of death
Believe it or not, having your required amount of sleep will actually reduce the risk of death at an early age. Found in the, ‘Whitehall II Study’, Researchers from Britain looked at around 10’000 British Civil Servants over 2 decades, for sleep loss, and found out that the servants who had reduced their sleep from 7 hours to around 5 hours (or fewer) almost doubled their risk of death from different sources. Coupled with the fact, that sleep deprivation means that certain famous hormones are not being able to nourish certain parts of the body, and it's not difficult to find out why.
4- Releases more Human Growth Hormone into the body
Probably one of the most famous of the hormones that are released when you are sleeping. True, you can buy supplements to compensate, but for a better, natural way of doing it, sleep will always be number 1. And why? Because The Human Growth Hormone is responsible for so many good things that our body needs, from promoting growth, to increasing thickened skin to improving muscle mass and bone structure.
That is why bodybuilding take HGH so seriously, they know how it can help increase muscle mass for building more muscle. Supplements can also help, but if you do want to give your body (and brain) a good head start, getting your required dosage of sleep is a must.
5- Increases your mental skills
This may seem a bit obvious, yet it amazes me how some people really work their brains hard, when a good night sleep will not only make them a slightly happier person, but they also don't have to fight hard to get their minds working!. Essentially a good sleep (especially in the long run) will help with your cognitive functioning, your alertness and will help you visualizing (yeah, don't try focused visualizing when you are tired, it doesn't work very easily!). Essentially, you are helping your brain so you can makes better judgment calls, improve memory, and be more attentive to what you are doing…always valuable in the workplace.
Of course, this is easier said than done if you are stressed, or suffer from an anxiety disorder of some sort. Getting to bed itself is tricky, especially if you suffer from OCD, and actually being relaxed to fall asleep can be trickier still. Somehow, you have to find a way to relax, so this is where meditation can come into play, or a nice relaxing warm bath. If you do feel particularly anxious over a certain thing, try your hand at EFT (no pun intended;-). You'll might find that you get the relaxed mindset that your body needs after all.
6. Reduces the risk of gaining weight
According to a study conducted in 2004, the people who slept for less than 6 hours a day were 30% more likely to suffer from obesity than those who slept between 7-9 hours. Not only that, but there is a link between sleep and the peptides that regulate the appetite. Shortened sleep is strongly associated with a decrease in Leptin and an increase in Ghrelin, Leptin being a protein hormone that has a key role in regulating appetite and Ghrelin being a hunger-stimulating peptide.
Put simply, getting your required hours means that you are less likely to go for that chocolate bar (probably due to the sugars that your brain and body needs to stay awake). You'll also less likely to have a need for coffee, so you won't need to worry about the stimulation of caffeine in your blood. This should make mental clarity much more easier to obtain. Food for thought;-)