Sleep is critical to having good health

DEAR EDITOR:

When it comes to health, most people focus on diet and exercise. Both are very important, but something that often doesn’t get acknowledged for its health benefits is sleep.

With our hectic schedules, we kick sleep to the curb, staying up and studying or working on projects. We think we are getting ahead, but we are hurting ourselves. Getting the proper amount of sleep, roughly eight hours a night, will increase productivity and ability to focus, and decrease the risk of errors that keep people from performing well. Our minds slow down, and judgment and reasoning is impaired when we lose sleep.

The brain isn’t the only part of the body that benefits from sleep. A recent study concluded that the hormones the body secretes, like insulin and cortisol, are better controlled by getting the proper amount of sleep. Cortisol, ‘the stress hormone,’ and insulin, which promotes glucose processing and fat storage both decrease during sleep which therefore, decrease the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease (Harvard Medical School, 2007). As if those benefits aren’t enough, people are less likely to get sick because while sleeping, the body is building and maintaining its immune system to fight off things like the common cold.

To get eight hours of sleep a night, it’s important to develop a sleep schedule. There are apps available to help track sleep. Sleep reminders from the clock app allow people to set and adjust alarms to wake and sleep.

Shut off electronics and keep the room dark. Circadian rhythms are strongly influenced by the amount of light in the sleep environment — when brighter, a person is more alert and in a dark room, more melatonin, which causes drowsiness, is produced, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Getting a good night’s sleep –eight hours — is extremely important for mental and physical health. It allows for people to sharpen the mind and cuts down on the risk of developing serious diseases.

Remember these facts the next time you pull an “all-nighter.”

CAITLIN O’HARA

Hubbard

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