how sleep affects health

Get Some Sleep!

how sleep affects health

The Health Benefits of Sleep Are Enormous

A new report suggests that it’s as important as diet and exercise in a healthy lifestyle.

Researchers say the results suggest the sleep quality is the third pillar of overall health. “People should recognize that sleep, diet and physical activity are critical to health, including heart health and optimal blood pressure control,” says researcher Susan Redline, MD, in a news release.

The study focused on men, but there’s no obvious reason the same wouldn’t be true for women. The key finding from the study? Lack of sleep has a strong correlation with increased blood pressure:

men who got the least deep sleep were 80% more likely to develop high blood pressure than those who got the most.

The full article from WebMD is here

How Sleep Helps Your Body

There’s a  grocery list of things that go wrong with your body when you don’t get very much sleep. Your immune system, metabolic pathways, mood regulation…… they all kinda go hay-wire when you can’t rest.  Sleep seems to be a system wide tune-up for your body. The wikipedia page on sleep deprivation is pretty good, and enough to scare you IMO.

What’s more, the kind of sleep you get seems to be more important than the sheer volume. All things being equal, more sleep is better, but mostly because it increases the chances your body will be able to go into the “deep wave” mode of sleep that seems to be the most beneficial for your body. In the study listed above the key predictor of high blood pressure was whether or not subjects got high quality sleep. If you controlled for that variable, the risk of high blood pressure was mostly independent of the total hours you got.

The best way to consistently get high quality sleep is to do it on a regular schedule. For instance, this paper found that regular sleep patterns affected behavior in school children just as much as the total hours.

Lots of other papers, like this one and this one, suggest that sleep quality has an impact on child development that’s as big as more ballyhooed causes like socio-economic status and family types.

So, for you, for your loved ones, and for everyone else around you……get some sleep!

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