Sleep: The Underdog of Health

“He that can take rest is greater than those that can take cities”

Benjamin Franklin

After air and water, the body’s need for sleep is most important. Believe it or not, adequate sleep is more important than food. But sleep is often the one thing we neglect the most. The human body cannot survive more than three minutes without air or three days without water. After three days of insufficient sleep, the body begins to show the signs of sleep deprivation. How long can the body survive without food? 3 weeks!

In our go-getter, do more, be more society, sleep is something for babies and the lazy. But one will never reach their full potential or experience true health and wellness without adequate sleep. Sleep is essential for our physical, mental, and spiritual health. It is estimated that more than a third (some estimate up to 70%) of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis.

What happens to the body while Sleeping?

Dr. Frank Lipman explains, “When you sleep, your brain protects itself from toxic proteins…this overnight cleanup keeps the brain clear and healthy”.  Adequate sleep improves learning, memory, decision making, and problem-solving skills. Your body goes into recovery and healing mode, repairing muscles, organs, and cells. The immune system is dependent on sleep, as certain antibodies are produced during sleep.

What happens when you get insufficient sleep?

The CDC has said, “Insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic”. Sounds a little dramatic right? It’s not. The impact of consistently not getting enough sleep are extremely harmful. Lack of sleep can make you biologically older and results in a body and mind wired for stress. It also causes an increased risk of:

  • Weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Weakened immune system
  • Mood changes
  • Poor focus, concentration, and memory

How much sleep do you need?

The National Sleep Foundation has recommendations for each age group. For adults aged 18-64, the recommendation is 7-9 hours of sleep per night. For adults 65 or more, the recommendation is 7-8 hours per night.

How to Improve Your Sleep?

  • Make sleep a priority
  • Stick to the same sleeping schedule every day (even weekends)
  • Develop a nighttime/bedtime routine
  • Disconnect from electronic devices at least a half-hour before bed
  • Don’t have caffeine after noon

Remember, being healthy, happy, and whole is your birthright and good sleep promotes good health.

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