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Reasons to Sleep: Top Five Reasons for a Good Sleep

Yawn! Go ahead. Chances are good that you are sleepier than you think you are. You might even want to stretch luxuriously and go take a nap. Why? Chances are better that no matter what ails you, sleeping well will help you heal. Sleep deprivation is epidemic in our society. Nearly all of us need more sleep than we get. I believe a sudden wave of drowsiness should be taken as seriously as the chest pain that might signal a heart attack. Drowsiness is an urgent warning that should not be ignored, particularly in situations where dozing, inattention or impaired performance could lead to catastrophe. In such situations, stop what you are doing now and take a nap. Many cultures honor the afternoon siesta. Americans should, too. In fact, we should look beyond the headlines to the thousands of little disasters sleep deprivation causes every day. Sleepiness contributes to many car, truck, maritime and airline accidents. Prevention of thousands of motor vehicle deaths a year is a reason enough for Americans to get more sleep, but a good night's sleep contributes to health and longevity in many other ways as well.

1. Productivity

Sleep deprivation hits America right in the wallet by reducing productivity. It impairs the abilities to read, write, react, reason, do math and make decisions - every faculty that contributes to getting jobs done well. People with chronic insomnia are less productive than normal sleepers, and they report 2.5 times as many auto accidents. But you do not have to have insomnia to have sleep deprivation impair your performance. Guess when doctors are most likely to order the wrong medications for hospital patients; at the end of a long, overnight shift. Guess when nurses are most likely to give the wrong medications; Guess when police are most likely to fire their weapons inappropriately. You get the picture. The list goes on and on.

2. Recovery

Why do so many illnesses send us straight to bed? An increased need for sleep is the body's way of orchestrating recovery. Most growth and most recovery from illness occurs during sleep, specifically during the deepest, or delta, stage. Children spend a good deal of the night in delta sleep because they are growing. As adults grow older, delta sleep diminishes. Many people believe that loss of sound sleep is caused by aging, but it might just be the other way around. A decline in delta sleep may play a key role in the physical decline of aging by limiting the body's ability to repair itself. You may not be able to "sleep like a baby" once you hit 50, but for general well-being and recovery from all illness, few therapies beat a good night's sleep.

3. The Common Cold

Ever catch a cold after pulling an all-nighter? A person with a large sleep debt is much more vulnerable to infections and other illnesses. The reason is that, without adequate rest, the body cannot fully recover from day-to-day stresses and the immune system cannot fully defend against disease-causing micro-organisms.

4. Longevity

A study showed that adults who slept six hours or less a night had significantly higher death rates from all causes than those who slept seven hours or more. Not surprisingly, motor vehicle accidents accounted for many of the fatalities among those who slept the least, but how people schedule their sleep appears to be as important as how much sleep they get. The study revealed a significant association between untimely death and shift work, the increasingly common practice of working through the night or the even more hazardous practice of switching shifts frequently. In addition to their higher death rate, those whose jobs call for them to switch shifts - physicians, nurses, police, firefighters, pilots, and bus drivers are five times more likely to experience mental health problems than people who work in days. If you do shift work, you might want to reconsider your schedule. If you can't change your sleep schedule, make sure you sleep at least 8 hours out of every 24.

5. Heart Disease

The connection between sleep and heart disease focuses on something most people dismiss as simply an annoyance - snoring. Quite often that's all it is. But sometimes snoring is a red flag for heart disease - and very few people know it. If your bedmate snores loudly, with periods of thrashing and choking silences, and then complains of daytime drowsiness, he or she may have sleep apnea. Apnea means a lapse in breathing. People with sleep apnea sometimes stop breathing for up to one minute at a time. Interrupted breathing keeps oxygen from entering the blood and as a result, sleep apnea strains the heart, elevates blood pressure and increases the risk of heart attack and heart failure. If you suspect that your bedmate might have sleep apnea, encourage him to discuss it with his doctor. It just might save his (or her) life.

Raymond Lee Geok Seng is one of the foremost experts in the health and fitness industry and is a writer specializing in body health, muscle development and dieting. He has spent countless of time and efforts conducting research and share his insightful and powerful secrets to benefit men and women all over the world. He is currently the author of the latest edition of "Neck Exercises and Workouts." Visit http://www.bodyfixes.com for more information.

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