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    Part 3: What are the Benefits of Sleep?

    Part 1: Benefits of Sleep

    Even though scientists are still trying to understand exactly why we need to sleep, previously conducted animal studies already show that sleep is obviously a necessary element required for our survival. To what degree is our sleep health affecting our lives is the real question. As an example, rats normally can live for two to three years, but laboratory test rats that were denied the REM sleep stage (Rapid Eye Movement) survived only about an average of five weeks, and test rats that were deprived of virtually all sleep stages lived just three weeks. Sleep-deprived test rats also developed unusually low body temperatures and manifested abscesses on their tail and paws. The sores may have developed due to the test rats' immune systems become impaired. Some studies clearly suggest that sleep deprivation can adversely affect the immune system – and not just those of rodents.

     

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    Sleep also seems to be a necessary component for the proper functioning of the nervous system. Too little sleep can leave us drowsy and thus unable to concentrate effectively during the next day. Sleep deficit can also lead to impaired memory as well as poor physical performance along with the reduced ability to carry out math calculations. If such sleep deprivation is allowed to continue, mood swings and even hallucinations can develop. Some experts feel that sleep allows neurons, which are in use while we are awake, a chance to rest up and fix themselves.

    Without a sufficient amount of sleep, these neurons can become so depleted of energy, as well as so polluted with the byproducts of normal cellular activities, that they will actually begin to fail. Sleep can also provide the brain with a chance to exercise critical neuronal connections that might otherwise weaken to the point of ineffectiveness, due to a severe lack of any activity.

    The deep sleep stage corresponds with the release of the critically important growth hormone found in children as well as young adults. Many of the cells found in our bodies also demonstrate increased production and reduced breakdown of important proteins during the deep sleep stage. Since these proteins are the essential building blocks that are needed for normal cell growth as well as for the repair of damage from things like stress and even ultraviolet rays, the deep sleep stage could actually be that proverbial "beauty sleep" we’ve heard so much about.

    Activity in certain areas of our brains which control the decision-making process, emotions, and social interactions is usually dramatically reduced during the deep sleep stage. This finding clearly suggests that this kind of sleep could assist us in maintaining optimal emotional and social functioning while we are awake. A study in laboratory test rats also demonstrated that certain nerve-signaling patterns which the test rats produced during the day were repeated during the deep sleep stage. The conclusion is that this patterned repetition could assist with the encoding of memories and improve our cognitive learning skills.

    With so much of your health at stake, it seems logical to take whatever steps are necessary to promote good sleep health. Making sure you avoid beverages that contain caffeine, set and adhere to regular sleep habits, and making sure your sleep environment is optimized for your sleep comfort are all important parts of the puzzle.

    (Sources: American Sleep Association, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, The National Institutes for Health and Bedbug.com)

    This informative series of sleep articles is brought to you by SecureSleep™, the bedding encasement specialists, insuring that you can go to sleep with the piece of mind knowing you are protected from bed bugs and allergens. SecureSleep promotes Sleep Hygiene and Health.

    Related Articles

    Part 1: Sleep Basics - Why Do We Need Sleep

    Part 2: How Much Sleep is Enough Sleep

    Part 3: What are the Benefits of Sleep (this article)

    Part 4: Importance of REM Stage Sleep and Dreaming

    Part 5: What are Circadian Rhythms

    Part 6: Disease Associated with Sleep

    Part 7: Sleep Disorders

    Part 8: Clean Sleep Environment