Will More Sleep Make You Healthier?
Sleep is just as important to good health as proper diet and exercise. Without it, the body does not get to recover from strenuous activity or stressful situations. It doesn’t get the time it needs to heal damage to muscle tissue or build new tissue. For all of these things to occur, the human body needs rest. For most people, 8 to 10 hours of sleep is needed each night for maximum benefit and good health.
The REM Cycle
REM stands for “rapid eye movement“. As a person sleeps, they go through several stages. When a person enters a deep sleep, they are experiencing a REM cycle. During this period, the eyes move back and forth rapidly as if they are watching something move in front of them. Several things happen during this stage of sleep that are important to maintaining good health.
A person needs to enter this stage of sleep for healing and rejuvenation to occur. It is believed that people who don’t get to this stage of sleep each night are prime candidates for chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. A person can enter the REM stage several times over the course of the night. The length of time they stay in each, successive REM stage increases as the night goes on. In the beginning, the REM stage lasts for about 10 minutes, while the final one can last up to an hour.
As a person sleeps, their body relaxes and bodily functions slow down. This means energy normally used for maintaining high levels of activity during the day, can now be used for healing and maintenance purposes. Microtears that occur in muscles and tissues can be repaired. Bruises and wounds can are also flooded with extra oxygen and nutrients to help hasten the healing process. Muscles that are constantly in motion are able to slow down and rest. The heart for example, is constantly working throughout the day. Its level of activity is constantly increasing and decreasing according to the person’s level of activity. Although it can’t stop beating, during sleep it can slow down to the point where it is able to recover from the stress of the day.
Brain Clean Up
Sleep is vitally important to the brain as well. As brain function is allowed to decrease, housekeeping measures begin. Extra oxygen normally used for other purposes can now be utilized to improve brain function. Stress is relieved and the mind is allowed to relax. Even though it seems a person’s thoughts never stop, during periods of deep sleep a person’s mind is allowed to wander. Thoughts flow freely and creativity begins. Processes within the brain that are dormant during waking hours go into overdrive as a person sleeps and vice versa.
Every person is unique in how their body functions. Some must have at least 10 hours of sleep to feel and perform their very best. Others can thrive on just a few hours of sleep each night and function extremely well.
About the Author
Kaitlin Gardner currently lives in Pennsylvania and is married to her best friend. In her spare time, she loves to go hiking , hand with her family and friend and enjoy nature.