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The Importance of Getting Quality Sleep, Part 1 of 2

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Even though we seem to be the least active when we’re asleep, our body is still working a lot. Every night, we experience four stages of sleep. The first three stages are known as non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, and the last stage is known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Most dreaming occurs in this stage.

Sleep also supports learning and memory. A study published in the Science Advances journal showed that for children under two-and-a-half years of age, REM sleep is important for learning and neural reorganization, which is the reconnection between brain cells in response to learning and adapting to a changing environment. Memory consolidation happens during our sleep, and it allows the brain to process and preserve key information. The hippocampus acts like a USB stick, gathering information during the day. Sleep will help connect these memories together, so that’s why sometimes we wake up with wonderful ideas and solutions to problems.

Sleep is crucial for healing and repairing cells to maintain our physical health. A study published in the journal “BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health” concluded that, “sleep and burnout may be risk factors for COVID-19 in high-risk healthcare workers.” Each additional one hour of sleep the workers got reduced the risk of contracting COVID-19 by 12%. Our body performs a detoxification process through the lymphatic system.

It’s intriguing to know that our brain also has a cleansing mechanism called the glymphatic system, which can decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease if it runs well during sleep. It can clear waste such as the harmful beta-amyloid protein that accumulates in the brain. During quality sleep, the heart rate slows and blood pressure drops by 10-20%.

A published study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that people who regularly got fewer than 6 hours of sleep had a 20% higher risk of a heart attack compared with those who slept 6 to 9 hours. In addition, sleep is a key regulator of neuroendocrine function and glucose metabolism. Want to keep an ideal body weight? Getting a good night’s sleep may be an easy and effective way to achieve this.

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