Thus far we have covered healthy living segments on drinking water, breathing clean air, eating well, taking advantage of supplements and practicing constant movement. Today we cover my favorite segment: the benefits of sleep. I have always loved sleeping. However, in the careers I have had over the last twenty years, I never was able to do much of it.
Benefits of Sleep: It Has Healing Powers
Let me tell you a secret about myself. A little over a year and a half ago, I was diagnosed with the same cancer that took my mother’s life. It was a terrible feeling and took me by surprise. There are so many stories I could share about this time in my life. But what I have discovered is that my body does eighty to ninety percent of its healing during its downtime.
Why is that? Think about it. When we are awake, all the body cells are engaged in some sort of activity, right? It is a constant cycle of movement, consumption, optimization, and balance. We use our brain cells, our muscles, our blood cells, our skin cells – every single part of our body is continuously engaged. When we eat, our bodies use enzymes and other digestive processes to break down the food and carry nutrients to our cells. The body is constantly at work, but even more so when we are awake.
Sleep Promotes Healing
With all these processes going on, the body does not have much time, for example, to fight disease or infection. This makes perfect sense when we think about how we cope with illness. When we are sick, our body shuts down, and we are forced to rest. Overdoing it leads to prolonged illness, but enough sleep promotes accelerated healing.
This applies to our general health as much as to sickness. Seeing the amount of activity our body has to cope with in a typical day, it is important to allow enough time to recover each night. It needs to replenish itself, heal hidden infections and prepare for another day of endless activity.
No Less Than 7
Seven hours of sleep is the minimum requirement for a healthy, well-balanced adult. Doctors recommended between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, with sleep cycles lasting a total of 90 minutes. Seven and a half hours is the optimum time, as this fully completes five ninety-minute sleep cycles. Recently, there have been studies conducted about naps. Brief rest periods, or catnaps, perhaps 10 to 15 minutes in the middle of the day, are being shown to increase energy and promote good mental health in adults. This may seem surprising, but it makes sense when you realize how good your body and mind feel after a proper night of uninterrupted sleep.
Scientist say we lose weight in our sleep! Weight loss is tied to adequate rest. How is that for encouragement not to exercise – just sleep to lose weight. Seriously, it is vital for strong cells. The benefits of sleep are endless. Sleep is also essential for your heart, blood pressure, ability to fight inflammation, lowering risk of injuries, preserving memory, promoting a positive mood and increasing overall performance. Sleep for life.