There is little doubt that sleep helps to clear away the cobwebs that accumulate during the day due to stress which in turn creates fatigue.
One of the primary theories of why sleep helps us as a great reducer of stress, is that when we are asleep, our requirement for energy falls about 10 per cent from what would normally be required if you were awake, in a sitting position.
The reason that a sitting position is used as an example is because you would not be overly exerting energy, but you would be awake.
This is opposed to a high energy output, such as running, where the output of energy would be high.
When we sleep the requirement from our cells for energy is down. This gives them time to be refreshed, receive water and energy and become energized and ready to go.
The demand for calories by our cells when we sleep is way down, so it is evident that they are resting and receiving nutrients and fluids naturally.
In this restful state, the body also has the opportunity to repair itself, as there are no demands on any of the bodily organs.
There is very little going on with digestion, there is little demand on the muscles of the body, and the heart rate is down, reducing the work load there.
Studies have shown that animals that are totally deprived of sleep on a consistent basis, totally lose their immune function, and they die in a matter of weeks.
So, sleep is an important activity that all living creatures need in order to keep their immune system functioning at a high level.
You may have noticed that when you are sick with the flu, for example, you seem to recover after a good night's sleep, which adds credibility to the immune function gaining ground at night when we sleep.
Studies have also shown that the major functions of restoration in our bodies such as injuries healing, muscle growth, tissue repair, synthesis of protein, and growth hormone processing occur for the most part, and in some cases only while we are asleep.
Cognitive function in the brain is the ability of the brain to process information in such a way that the information makes sense to us.
While we are awake, the brain produces a by-product of the brain cells called "adenosine" which accumulates and makes us feel tired. Interestingly, caffeine helps to counteract the effect of adenosine, and makes us feel more alert by blocking the adenosine effects.
During sleep, the body clears out the accumulated adenosine so in the morning we feel refreshed and alert.
Brain health and brain development requires an adequate amount of sleep, as evidenced during the development of babies and young children.
Newborn babies sleep up to 13 to 20 hours a day when they first come home from the hospital and about half of that sleep is spent in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which is the deepest sleep that we can get, and this is also the stage of sleep when our dreams occur.
If you are not having any dreams, that means that you are not getting into the deepest, and most helpful stage of sleep where is seems that our body can carry out the best job of repair, boosting the immune system and cleansing our bodies from toxins.
Getting enough sleep is a big problem in modern society in that we lead a very fast paced life as a rule, where most people try to get "more done' at a faster pace, leaving little time at night for adequate sleep.
When the phrase "burning the candle at both ends" pops up about somebody, it is describing someone who is under pressure, whether from outside sources such as work, or from within just because that person is driven.
When people attempt to operate under these types of conditions, the stress that occurs is accumulative and leads to heart problems, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and a great deal of anxiety.
Lack of proper sleep can alter a person's mood, judgment and physical abilities, which accounts for accidents, and misjudgments in the workplace.
Lack of sleep over a period of time accounts for may physical and health situation such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and other stress related conditions.
If a person is having trouble getting enough sleep, there are things that can be done such as changing the environment in which you sleep. Some people leave a radio on all night, and they find themselves listening which prevents them from getting adequate sleep, particularly if it is talk radio.
Behavioral changes can make a difference as well, such as avoiding caffeine late in the day, not eating dinner at an hour later in the evening, and avoiding alcohol right before bedtime and limiting the amount of light in the room when attempting to go to sleep.
If the difficulty in falling asleep is a big problem, consultation with a sleep behavioral specialist would be a good thing to do, especially if you are under a great deal of stress during the day or you may want to try some relaxation techniques before going to bed to help improve your chances of falling asleep.
Good Quality Sleep Reduces Stress
From experience and from various studies it is pretty well accepted that when a person receives an adequate amount of sleep during the night, especially deep, or REM sleep, that a great deal of stress is removed.
People who stay up until late hours, after having a stressful day, are just playing with fire as far as their overall state of health is concerned.
Doctors recommend that we receive between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night to have the optimal amount of sleep. The role of sleep in our well being is with people who receive adequate sleep over time and people who are consistently lacking in sleep.
The differences in their state of physical, emotional and mental health is like they came from two different planets. The ones who sleep well are in much better shape than the people who are lacking in sleep over time.
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