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Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep

For many people, sleep is low on the daily priority list. Getting enough sleep each night might seem like a luxury, instead of a necessity.

However, if you read enough news about sleep research, you quickly realize that sleep is as important as regular exercise and a good diet.

World Class Nutrition has compiled this short report on the importance of sleep. This information should help you make sleep a priority.

You may think of sleep as a time when your body shuts down, but in reality there's a lot going on. Although scientists haven't unraveled all the mysteries of why we need sleep, studies continue to uncover its benefits to our minds and bodies.

What happens when we sleep?

There are five stages of sleep.

  • Stage one: light sleeping, your body is slowing down activity.
  • Stage two: your brain waves start slowing even more.
  • Stage three: your brain begins producing the slower delta waves.
  • Stage four: you don't wake up as easily, and there is no muscle activity. It's harder to get your bearings if you're awakened at stages three or four.
  • Stage five, you are in the Rapid Eye Movement stage when you dream.

    You go through the cycles numerous times each night, but in the beginning, the REM stage is fairly short and the deep sleep stages are long. There's a switch sometime during the night, and closer to morning, you spend more time in light sleep and the REM stage.

    During deep sleep, your body ramps up protein production which replenishes your body's cells and helps to repair damage. In REM sleep, protein production also is increased and certain parts of the brain associated with learning are stimulated. Things you've learned during the day may be reinforced as you sleep.

    Other parts of the brain--those involved with emotions and reasoning abilities--become less active during sleep. The rest you get at night can help you make better decisions and be in control of your emotions during the day.

    How much sleep is needed?

    Most adults need 7 to 8 hours a day. The right number for you may be higher or lower. Children need more sleep than adults, with teenagers needing at least 9 hours a night.

    The test for whether you're getting enough sleep is simple. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, you shouldn't feel drowsy during the day, "even during boring activities." If you do, you aren't getting enough sleep.

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