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Good Sleep Habits: A Key To Better Health!

By Ray Kelly

Most of us fail to get good nights sleep. As a result we run the risk of greatly increasing our susceptibility to disease and accidents. Getting a good night sleep is a minimum for a healthy life. For most people this amount needs to be around 6 to 8 hours each night. Anything less than that and you are sleeping too little and anything more than that and you are probably sleeping too much.

What is it that sleep does for us? The best way to think of sleep is as the body's form of "downtime". Just like our computers need to go offline in order to be repaired so must our bodies. During this "downtime the body actually rebuilds tissue, grows bone and muscle and strengthens the immune system.

The truth is we really don't know everything that does happen in sleep just yet. However, we know enough to realize that without it the body deteriorates along with the mind.

Each night we cycle through three stages of sleep including light sleep, deep sleep and Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (REM). Each of these stages are vital but the last stage is especially vital. Deprivation of this final stage of sleep can seriously decrease our health and productivity and make us increasingly prone to accidents and systematic disorders.

During deep sleep brain activity that controls emotions, decision-making processes and social interaction shuts down. Though these areas become inactive other areas of our brain that are usually dormant come to life. It is also at this stage that cell growth and cell repair takes place. There is in fact some truth to the phrase "beauty sleep". Missing these vital areas of sleep deprives our body of the chance to revitalize our skin and organs.

Sleep is also integral in fighting off infection. As anybody who has been sick can attest the need for sleep increases when we are ill or bedridden. Part of the reason for this behavior is because our body is trying to shut down other aspects of our functioning in order to send much needed energy to our immune system and other parts of the body that help to fight off infection and sickness. This is a key step in the healing process. Depriving someone of sleep with a major illness can do serious damage to their long-term health.

The effects of sleep deprivation are many and varied. When we are deprived from sleep hallucinations and mood swings are usually the first effects we feel. There is also a general sense of irritability that pervades our waking mood when we are sleep deprived. Lack of sleep also affects our nervous system leaving us drowsy and unable to concentrate.

Lack of sleep is also a frequent contributor to the causes of vehicular accidents and all other types of accidents, many of which are fatal.

To make sure you get the most of your sleep try to develop some ritual before going to bed. By creating a routine you condition your body to prepare itself for sleep.

Avoid taking medicines since many of these prohibit the deepest levels of sleep, which are most necessary for our body.

Also avoid excessive stimulation two hours before sleep. This can cause your body to be unable to fall reach the state of deep relaxation needed to fall to sleep.

Find an amount of sleep that is right for you and allows your body to operate at maximum efficiency.

About The Author
Ray Kelly is an Exercise Scientist with 15 years experience in the health and fitness industry. Sign up for his free 7 Day Weight Loss Course at

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