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Benefits of Sleep

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Updated November 24, 2008

In addition to the many health benefits of sleep, there are other factors that make sleep absolutely necessary to life. Sleep is important for concentration, memory formation and the repair of damage to your body’s cells during the day. Chronic lack of sleep increases the risk for developing obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and infections.

Lack of Sleep Can Kill

Researchers do not know exactly why people need sleep, but we do know that lack of sleep can kill. In research studies, rats normally live two to three years, but if rats are totally deprived of sleep, they only live about five weeks. They also develop sores, their immune systems do not work well and their body temperature drops. Humans deprived of sleep for long periods begin hallucinating and develop other mental problems.

Sleep and Concentration

When people do not have enough sleep, they cannot concentrate well the next day and have problems forming memories. Researchers believe that during sleep, neurons can shut down and repair any damage done during the day. Without these repairs, the neurons may not function correctly due to a buildup of waste products. Sleep also seems important for the formation of memories.

Growth and Beauty Sleep

Important hormone production is regulated during sleep; in children, human growth hormone (HGH) is released during deep sleep. Insufficient sleep can affect hormonal balance in adults as well. Tissue repair also occurs during sleep, including repair to the daily skin damage done by UV light. Getting enough deep sleep will help your skin repair itself.

More on Improving Your Sleep

Sources:

National Institutes of Health; National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Your Guide to Healthy Sleep. NIH Publication No. 06-5271.

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