Friday, 15 June 2012

The Health Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep

There are substantial health benefits in getting adequate sleep. A lot of research has been done and the main conclusions drawn from getting a good night’s sleep are as follows:
·   It helps the body make repairs to itself caused by stress and other influences, and strengthens the immune system.
·    It keeps your heart healthy preventing heart attacks and strokes.
·    It helps you to feel more relaxed next day and reduces stress.
·    It makes you more alert and bolsters your memory.
·    It makes you smarter and more productive, which can help your career.  
·   It can help prevent depression because it has an impact on the chemicals in the body including serotonin, which is needed to combat this disorder.  
·   It can aid weight loss because the hormones ghrelin and leptin. Important for the regulation of appetite, are disrupted by lack of sleep. 
·   It can help you live longer on the basis of studies done on groups of people.
How much sleep does a person need? The answer to this question can vary dependent upon your age and circumstances. Some people can make do with 6 hours or less per night, while others sleep for 8 or 9 hours. The average for most people is about 8 hours.  
Research has also been done on what helps you get adequate sleep with the following conclusions:
·  Make sure the room you are going to sleep in has been well aired during the day and is not too hot come bedtime. A room temperature of 18 degrees Centigrade (65 Fahrenheit) is about right. Make sure the room is as dark as possible when the light is switched off and noise-free. Do not have things like a computer, TV set or mobile phone in the bedroom.
·  Make sure the bed you are sleeping in is of sufficient size with the head adjacent to an internal wall. The mattress should be as comfortable as possible.
·  Do not eat or drink anything in the two hours preceding going to bed. Do not drink coffee, tea or alcohol in the 8 hours before you go to bed.
·  When you take exercise during the day, do it outdoors if at all possible.
·  Make the time you go to bed at night and get up in the morning a regular time if at all possible, to enable your body to adjust to this schedule.
·  If you miss some sleep for any reason, then a 40 minute nap next day is okay to compensate. Otherwise do not nap during the day.
·  Engaging in a relaxation technique, such as deep breathing or listening to relaxation music, in the hour before you go to bed can induce sleep.
·  Avoid any strenuous activity in the two hours before bedtime.  
In giving advice on sleep, I do realise that peoples’ circumstances can vary enormously. However, the above is the best advice that I could muster on the important subject from a health point of view of getting a good night’s sleep.

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