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Three Potential Dangers of Lack of Sleep

March is National Sleep Awareness Month. We wanted to take the opportunity to talk about some important things that you may not know about sleep.

1. Lack of sleep increases the risk of Alzheimer’s: Sleep plays a major role in cleaning out toxins in the brain and throughout the body. The system that removes toxins is 10 times more active when the body is sleeping than when it is awake. Sleep deprivation is believed to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, because the body has been denied the opportunity to remove the amount of toxins necessary. As these toxins accumulate, diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia can develop.

2. Sleep deprivation is more dangerous for women: Women and men face different challenges when it comes to health; for sleep, it is no different. A recent study from Duke University found that sleep deprivation has a greater impact on the health of women. While men are more likely to be impacted by sleep deprivation, women appear to suffer more consequences. Women who suffer from sleep deprivation are at higher risk of cardiovascular and diabetes than their male counterparts, according to the researchers. They speculated that the difference in naturally occurring hormone levels in men and women could be the reason but said more research is needed.

3. Sleep deprivation weakens your immune system: While you sleep, your immune system produces protective, infection-fighting substances like antibodies and cytokines. It uses these substances to combat foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Certain cytokines also help you to sleep, giving your immune system more efficiency to defend your body against illness. Sleep deprivation prevents your immune system from building up its forces. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body may not be able to fend off invaders, and it may also take you longer to recover from illness. Long-term sleep deprivation also increases your risk for chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.

As you can see, it is vital to your health to maintain a healthy sleep schedule. Here are a few tips on how to improve your sleep

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
Try to keep the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends.
Use the hour before bed for quiet time.
Avoid heavy and/or large meals within a couple hours of bedtime.
Avoid nicotine and caffeine
Spend time outside and be physically active.
Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark
Take a hot bath or use relaxation techniques before bed.

Strengthens your immune system
Helps to maintain a healthy weight
Lowers your risk for serious health problems such as cancer, diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease
Reduces stress and improves your mood
Improves your memory

Getting enough quality sleep on a regular basis can help you to feel well rested, refreshed and avoid fatigue. The number of hours of sleep that a person requires varies but is usually between 7-10 hours. Here are some of the health benefits of getting enough regular, quality sleep.

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Sources and More Info:


Mastering Sleep Hygiene: Your Path to Quality Sleep