Ref: CHB/News Bulletin/004                                                                    

We spend about 8 hours a day, 56 hours a week, 240 hours a month and 2,920 hours a year doing it. And by "IT" I mean good, old fashion sleep. We apparently spend one third of our lives doing nothing. But is sleep really doing nothing? It looks like it...our eyes are closed, our muscles are relaxed, our breathing is regular, and we do not respond to sound or light. If you take a look at what is happening inside of your brain, however, you will find quite a different situation - the brain is very active. You are doing something!

Physiologically, sleep is a complex process of restoration and renewal for the body as well as the processing of experiences and the consolidation of memories. Sleep makes you feel better, but 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 more.

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Some benefits:

1. Sleep Keeps Your Heart Healthy

Heart attacks and strokes are more common during the early morning hours. This fact may be explained by the way sleep interacts with the blood vessels. Lack of sleep has been associated with worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol, all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Your heart will be healthier if you get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.

2. Sleep May Prevent Cancer

sleep_2People working the late shift have a higher risk for breast and colon cancer. Researchers believe this link is caused by differing levels of melatonin in people who are exposed to light at night. Light exposure reduces the level of melatonin, a hormone that both makes us sleepy and is thought to protect against cancer. Melatonin appears to suppress the growth of tumors. Be sure that your bedroom is dark to help your body produce the melatonin it needs.

3. Sleep Reduces Stress

When your body is sleep deficient, it goes into a state of stress. The body's functions are put on high alert which causes an increase in blood pressure and a production of stress hormones. Higher blood pressure increases your risk for heart attacks and strokes. The stress hormones also, unfortunately, make it harder for you to sleep

4. Sleep Reduces Inflammation

The increase in stress hormones raises the level of inflammation in your body, also creating more risk for heart-related conditions, as well as cancer and diabetes. Inflammation is thought to one of the causes of the deterioration of your body as you age.

5. Sleep Makes You More Alert

Of course, a good night's sleep makes you feel energized and alert the next day. Being engaged and active not only feels great, it increases your chances for another good night's sleep. When you wake up feeling refreshed, use that energy to get out into the daylight, do active things, and be engaged in your world. You'll sleep better the next night and increase your daily energy level.

6. Sleep Bolsters Your Memory

Researchers do not fully understand why we sleep and dream, but a process called memory consolidation occurs during sleep. While your body may be resting, your brain is busy processing your day, making connections between events, sensory input, feelings and memories. Your dreams and deep sleep are an important time for your brain to make memories and links. Getting more quality sleep will help you remember and process things better.

7. Sleep May Help You Lose Weight

Researchers have also found that people who sleep less than seven hours per night are more likely to be overweight or obese. It is thought that the lack of sleep impacts the balance of hormones in the body that affect appetite. The hormones ghrelin and leptin, important for the regulation of appetite, have been found to be disrupted by lack of sleep. So if you are interested in controlling or losing weight, don't forget to pay attention to getting a good night's sleep.

8. Sleep May Reduce Your Risk for Depression

Sleep impacts many of the chemicals in your body, including serotonin. People with a deficiency in serotonin are more likely to suffer from depression. You can help to prevent depression by making sure you are getting the right amount of sleep, between 7 and 9 hours each night.

9. Sleep Helps the Body Make Repairs

Sleep is a time for your body to repair damage caused by stress, ultraviolet rays and other harmful exposures. Your cells produce more protein while you are sleeping. These protein molecules form the building blocks for cells, allowing them to repair damage.

Sleep myths debunked!

sleep_3Myth: Sleep is just a way to let your brain rest.

Truth: People often think the brain is resting when they sleep, but it is actually more active at night than during the day. During sleep, your cardiovascular system and brain are doing a lot of work when it comes to creativity, critical thinking and memory. For example, short-term memories get registered and stored in the brain during sleep.

Myth: I can get used to sleeping less.

Truth: If you believe you can condition yourself to operate on less sleep, you're wrong. When you are chronically sleep deprived, your mental performance declines, says Phil Gehrman, assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Penn Sleep Center. "We lose the ability to accurately judge how impaired we are."

Myth: I can catch up on the weekends.

Truth: Recent studies show that if you don't get enough sleep during the workweek, sleeping in on the weekend won't easily make up for it. If you lost about two hours of sleep for five nights straight, Gehrman says, you would need to tack an extra 10 hours onto two full nights of sleep. And that's highly unlikely. Without that much extra sleep on the weekend, you will start the next week just as depleted as you were at the end of the previous week, he says. What's more, even if you did catch up on your sleep on the weekend, it won't undo the damage done in terms of lost productivity.

Myth: Coffee is a substitute for lack of sleep.

sleep_4Truth: There's no doubt that caffeine is a potent antidote for drowsiness. It inhibits adenosine, the chemical in the brain that makes us feel sleepy, but it can only go so far. Coffee might help you feel more awake, but your body doesn't get the same nourishment from caffeine that it gets from sleep. This means your thinking speed and ability to move through problems and situations will still be impaired, says Breus. "It keeps you awake and moving around, but it doesn't replace the need for sleep," he says. "Your body doesn't heal; your memory doesn't get better." What's more, besides making you jittery, excessive caffeine can also cause you to feel even sleepier than before when it starts to wear off, Gehrman says.

Myth: Sleeping longer will make me gain weight.

Truth: You might think being in bed for longer will make you less active and cause weight gain, but the opposite is true. A 2011 University of Chicago study found that lack of sleep affects metabolism and can lead to obesity. Ghrelin and leptin, the hormones in your brain that cause you to feel hungry, actually increase in your body with less sleep, Maas says. And when we are tired and sleep deprived, we tend to have cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods, Gehrman says.

Interesting fact:

Even animals require varied amounts of sleep:

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The current world record for the longest period without sleep is 11 days, set by Randy Gardner in 1965. Four days into the research, he began hallucinating. This was followed by a delusion where he thought he was a famous footballer.

Sleep better, Live longer!

Source:

·          http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/debunking-5-common-myths-about-sleep-233716942.html

·         http://longevity.about.com/od/lifelongenergy/tp/healthy_sleep.htm

Compiled by: Neelam. A. Ismail

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