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Sleep, along with eating, drinking and breathing, plays a vital role in our health and well-being. When it comes to considering your healthy functioning, understanding the risks associated with sleep deprivation, or indeed oversleeping, may just motivate you to consider your own sleep habits.
Intuitively we all know that we need to sleep in order to function. In fact, basic levels of human development and restoration such as muscle growth and tissue repair occur primarily during the sleep cycle. Sleep also enhances cognitive functioning by allowing a more alert brain to perform better and enhanced memory to encourage sustainable learning. Brain Plasticity theories of change that rely on the brain continually learning and re-learning ways of doing things will therefore champion sleep and it’s benefits as well.
The consequences and risks associated with poor sleep such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity and mood disorders, also place the spotlight on the importance of rejuvenation through slumber.
Sleeping habitually less than 6 hours a night or more than 9 hours a night has been linked with a higher body mass index (BMI), whereas people who average eight hours sleep a night indicate the lowest BMI in sleep studies. Over-production of cortisol, the "stress hormone", and increased secretion of insulin levels following meals, has been observed in poor sleepers and both of these indicators suggest a possible link to the development of weight issues and obesity amongst this group.
Studies revealing a strong connection between adults who sleep less than 5 hours a night and problems with glucose control and therefore increased risk of diabetes, create more cause for concern. Sleep Apnea, a sleep disorder characterized by breathing difficulties and poor quality, frequently disrupted slumber, has also been linked to weight gain and similar problems with glucose control in adults.
One of the more obvious consequences and frequently reported complaints of poor or insufficient sleep must be tiredness and irritability. It is therefore not surprising to discover that habitual or chronic sleep disorders may lead to long-term mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, and it is certainly true that sleep issues are commonly co-existing with these psychological presentations.
A bit confronting, but comforting to know that sleeping is as natural as eating and breathing, you can do it, adapt and change and improve your well-being.