Sleep You Need:
Much Sleep Do You Really Need to Be Healthy?
By Dr. Ben
facets of your life have greater impact on your health status than
the amount of quality rest that you get each night.
is your sleeping routine so important to your ability to prevent
disease and be at your best?
it is during restful sleep that your body releases large amounts
of three hormones that are essential to your ability to heal and
rejuvenate your cells. These three hormones, the real fountains
of youth for your body, are as follows:
is a hormone that is produced by your kidneys. It stimulates
the production of red blood cells by your bone marrow. Red blood
cells deliver oxygen to every cell in your body. Red blood cells
also carry carbon dioxide (waste) away from every cell in your
big a difference can the amount of erythropoietin in your circulation
mean to your overall sense of vitality? The fact that erythropoietin
is a common blood doping agent in sports such as marathon running
and long-distance cycling speaks volumes about its ability to
improve your stamina.
you get enough sleep each day, there is no need to inject erythropoietin
into your system - your body will produce all the erythropoietin
that you need.
hormone is released by your pituitary gland in episodic waves,
about once every ninety minutes, with the strongest wave coming
approximately one hour after you fall asleep at night.
hormone stimulates growth and reproduction of your cells. When
released by your pituitary gland in amounts that are in line
with your physiological needs, growth hormone can help keep
your muscles and bones strong. Growth hormone can also decrease
the amount of adipose (fat) tissue that you carry.
lack of adequate growth hormone production is one of the chief
reasons why people who do not get enough sleep tend to be overweight
for their height and/or have weak muscles and bones.
is a steroid hormone that is secreted by the testicles of males
and the ovaries of females. Small amounts of testosterone are
produced and secreted by the outer section of your adrenal glands
and by the placenta in pregnant women.
testosterone secretion is essential to experiencing:
strong immune system
bones and reduced risk of developing osteoporosis
healthy sex drive
you do not get enough sleep on a daily basis, your body will still
produce erythropoietin, growth hormone, and testosterone - it just
won't produce amounts that will allow you to experience your best
amount of sleep you need each day to be at your best fluctuates
in response to several factors, the two most important ones being:
Physical and Emotional Activity Levels
more energy you expend physically and/or emotionally, the more
sleep you need.
might think that people who spend 8 hours a day doing heavy
manual labor would need more sleep than folks who engage in
very little physical activity. In actuality, if physically inactive
people spend most of their waking hours expending emotional
energy associated with states like depression, anxiety, and
anger, then they may need just as many hours of quality sleep
as those who do heavy physical labor each day.
primary purpose of sleep is to allow your body to produce large
quantities of the hormones mentioned above, and devote the bulk
of your resources to healing and rejuvenating your cells for
another day. The more energy you spend physically and/or emotionally,
the more time you need in slumber for adequate rejuvenation.
you overeat or eat large amounts of processed foods, your digestive
organs stand a good chance of working overtime while you sleep
in order to fully deal with extra digestive burden.
expenditure of digestive energy while you sleep cuts into the
resources that are available for the healing and rejuvenation
that sleep is intended for, which can increase the number of
hours of sleep that you need to feel well rested.
you eat fresh, uncooked vegetables and fruits, your body receives
enzymes that naturally occur in raw vegetables and fruits. These
enzymes can actually improve the efficiency of your digestive
system. For this reason, people who eat lots of fresh, uncooked
produce typically find that they need less sleep than people
who eat mainly cooked and heavily processed foods.
the amount of sleep you need to be optimally well is best determined
by allowing your body to sleep until you naturally wake up feeling
you wake up feeling well rested, you can be relatively certain that
you have given your body a chance to produce adequate quantities
of erythropoietin, growth hormone, and testosterone, and that your
body has had ample time to rejuvenate your cells.
you want to establish a pattern of going to sleep at an hour that
will lead to you waking up naturally around the time that you have
to begin your day. For example, if over time, you discover that
your body tends to need approximately 9 hours of sleep per night
for you to feel well rested, and you need to begin your day at 6
am, then you should do your best to get to sleep at around 9 pm
in mind that if your body has been deprived of adequate sleep for
more than a few days, you may have significant sleep debt. In this
case, you will need to pay off your sleep debt by giving your body
as much rest as your life circumstances will allow before you can
use your feelings of restfulness or fatigue in the mornings as accurate
barometers of adequate sleep time.
the number of hours that you need to experience your best health
is unique, and may fluctuate slightly from week to week in accordance
with how much physical and emotional energy you put out, and also
in accordance with the quality of your food choices.
follows are some important tips on how to ensure that your sleeping
hours translate to acquiring high quality rest:
the spring, summer, and fall months, use window coverings that
prevent the early morning sunlight from waking you up before your
body is fully rested. Alternatively, use an eye mask to block
out light while you are sleeping.
you share your bed with other living creatures like your partner,
your children, and/or pets, be sure that you communicate what
you need in order to sleep peacefully. Some people sleep better
when they cuddle (my wife), while others can't sleep a wink if
so much as another person's fingernail is touching their shoulder
(me). Know your optimal sleeping conditions and let them be known
to relevant crew members.
not to drink fluids or eat water-rich foods within an hour or
two of going to bed. The less you have to get up during the night
to go to the bathroom, the higher quality rest you will enjoy.
to avoid powerful stimulants like sugar and caffeine, especially
in the late afternoon and evening. When you make it a habit to
get adequate sleep each night, you will have less of a need for
such stimulants to keep you going throughout the day.
to do something that relaxes your body and mind an hour or two
before sleep time, such as listening to soothing
music, watching the sunset, or counting stars.
colder months, wear socks to bed. Having cold feet is a common
cause of waking up at night.
to be physically active for at least a part of your day. A regular
exercise routine can help to promote restful sleep.
note: Do you have sleepless nights? Can't seem to turn your
brain off, get to sleep, or stay asleep?
you'd like to start getting consistently good nights of sleep, we
have an audio CD called NightTrain
designed to help you fall into a restful, continuous sleep.
what I experience with NightTrain: "The sleep I've been getting
with NightTrain has been so good that for the first time in my life
the alarm clock actually rips me out of sleep. Before I'd always been
conscious in some form before it went off. Now, thanks to NightTrain,
I'm deep in REM or stage 3 or 4 sleep before the alarm clock rings."
here to get your ticket and climb aboard the NightTrain express.
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