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The Importance of Sleep

Posted on 01 September 2014

Why is sleep so important?

Sleep makes you feel better, but its importance goes much further than that. Sleeping is a basic human need, like eating, drinking, and breathing. Like these other needs, sleeping is essential for a person’s health, happiness and well-being.

 

Everyone has experienced the consequences of lack of sleep or simply just a bad night’s sleep – fatigue, short temper, irritability, lack of focus and difficulty with concentration.

 

The occasional night without sleep won’t harm your health. However, if sleep deficiency continues it can lead to physical and mental health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, depression, diabetes and obesity – and in severe cases can even cause death.

 

Surveys and studies conducted by the National Sleep Foundation have shown that a high number of people are not receiving the amount of sleep our body and brain need to restore them to full function. Sleep is especially important for the brain, as certain crucial brain functions can only occur when we are sleeping. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development.

 

Understanding sleep

Although explaining which and how many types of sleep the body goes through during the sleeping period might not feel relevant to “the importance of sleep” (and why we need to sleep in order to keep healthy), we thought that a brief explanation on understanding sleep might be useful to the reader – after all we all have heard of REM (not the American band though!).

 

Prior to 1951, scientists thought sleeping was merely shutdown mode for the body and mind. It wasn’t until Eugene Aserinsky conducted the first continuous all-night recording of ocular mobility in sleep using a combined EEG and EOG technique on his eight year old son that we learnt about rapid eyes movement (or REM, as it is more commonly known). During REM sleep periods the brain speeds up its activity, the eyes twitch, and we dream.

 

The other type of sleep is defined as non-REM sleep or NREM. This type of sleep is further subdivided into 3 stages:

 

1. Stage N1 – also known as transition to sleep. This stage occurs at the beginning of sleep, with slow eye movement. This state is sometimes referred to as relaxed wakefulness.

2. Stage N2 – also known as light sleep. During this stage no eye movement occurs, and dreaming is very rare. The sleeper is quite easily awakened.

3. Stage N3 – also most commonly known as deep sleep. Dreaming is more common in this stage of NREM sleep though not as common as in REM sleep. In this deepest stage of sleep blood flow is directed away from the brain and towards the muscles, restoring physical energy.

 

Your sleep is a cycle! Your sleep follows a predictable pattern, moving back and forth between REM sleep and NREM sleep. Together, the stages of REM and NREM sleep form a complete sleep cycle. Each cycle typically lasts about 90 minutes and repeats four to six times over the course of a night.

 

Each stage of sleep in the sleep cycle offers benefits to the sleeper. Stage N3 of NREM (deep sleep) is the time when the body repairs itself. REM sleep is the time when the mind is being renewed and the brain replenishes its supply of neurotransmitters.

 

The Power of Sleep

We now know that your body and brain don’t shut off during sleep. Instead, they go through a wide variety of biological processes in order to restore themselves to peak health.

 

The quality of your sleep is very important and it directly affects the quality of your waking life. No other activity delivers so many benefits, especially with so little effort!

 

Getting enough quality sleep at the right time helps you function well throughout the day. People who suffer from sleep deficiency are less productive at work and school. They take longer to finish tasks, have a slower reaction time, and make more mistakes.

 

Lack of sleep also may lead to micro-sleeps. Micro-sleeps are brief moments of sleep – nodding off for 5 to 10 seconds at a time – that occur when you're normally awake. You can't control micro-sleeps, and you might not even be aware of them.

 

Sometimes all it takes is a power-nap. A power-nap is a short sleep which terminates before the occurrence of deep sleep and it’s intended to quickly revitalise you and restore your energy levels.

 

A power-nap sums up the power of sleep – a quick 30 minutes shut-eye will make all the difference to your mind and body!

 

Sleep for a healthy brain, mind and body

Sleep plays a very important role in your brain health and emotional well-being. Studies show that sleep deficiency alters activity in some parts of the brain. If you are suffering from sleep deficiency, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behaviour, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behaviour.

 

Children and teens who suffer from sleep deficiency may have problems getting along with others. They may feel angry and impulsive, have mood swings, feel sad or depressed, or lack motivation. They may also have problems paying attention, and they may get lower grades and feel stressed.

 

Sleep also plays an important role in your physical health. For example, sleep is involved in the healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. On-going sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes.

 

Health benefits of sleep

"Sleep used to be kind of ignored, like parking our car in a garage and picking it up in the morning" says David Rapoport, M.D., director of the NYU Sleep Disorders Center.

Not anymore. Researchers have discovered that a good night’s sleep will bring many health benefits to your brain and body. We will cover these benefits in more details in our next blog post 10 health benefits of sleep.

 

How can far infrared clothing help?

The fabric used to make the ABSOLUTE 360 garments absorbs infrared radiation emitted by the human body and re-emits the absorbed radiation as FIR waves, which interact with the human body, promoting body stimulation. This stimulation leads to several benefits including a more restful sleep. FIR waves have a profoundly relaxing effect on the body, helping to enhance sleep.

 

For a complete list of the benefits that you can experience from wearing FIR clothing click here.

 

If you want to get rid of stress, sleep better, awaken truly refreshed and increase your daily energy and mental clarity make far infrared clothing a lifestyle choice. Start your “wellness” journey today…

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