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Could a Lack of Sleep Be Killing You?

Jul 10, 2008
Last week, I was more concerned about getting my work for work done than I was about getting the sleep I apparently needed. I was getting up early in the morning to do work before heading to work to do more work; and then when I got home, I would do more work for work. The average work week is 40 hours for a full time person; I averaged 53. I thought that I could keep it up too, which is the funny part. I somehow managed to trick my body into thinking that it wasn't tired because I didn't feel tired. Perhaps I was just really pumped about getting as much work done as I could. I was averaging maybe five hours of sleep each night. That's a loooong work day. On top of that, I had family come in for the weekend, so I now had to worry about driving around and entertaining people. On Sunday, at the end of this long week, I came back to my apartment and collapsed on the couch after what I had considered to be only two hours of spending time with my family. I never took into account the fact that I had been going all week long with little to no break. I was, instead, baffled at the fact that I would be so tired after doing nothing really but spending some quality time with family for a couple of hours. However, my body had been trying to tell me all along that I needed rest, which is what I eventually realized when I woke up four hours later.

Everyone remembers from elementary health class the old refrain of "eat a well balanced meal and get plenty of sleep." Yet, today it seems that more and more of us are getting fewer and fewer hours of quality sleep. You know that lack of sleep can make you fatigued and just generally cranky, but could a lack of sleep actually be endangering your health? A new report says, yes.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, most Americans are not getting enough sleep. And the lack of that desperately required time in dream land can lead to some major health problems including infertility, depression, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Every part and function of our body, including our immune system, needs a proper amount of sleep; at least 8 hours per night. Some research in animals has even shown that a lack of sleep is a sure route to an early and premature death. Without the proper time of sleep for the repairing and rebuilding processes of your body to take place, every part of your body is over worked and pushed to exhaustion and eventually, just like a car trying to run on fumes, it will give out.

Most people believe, falsely, that putting off sleep will help them to get more done. But because you are functioning on a decreasing amount of energy, you are less productive than you would be if you had gotten a full night's sleep and were able to tackle the day fresh and ready to go.

So do one of the best things that you can do for your health, slow down and get the rest that you need. If you are having trouble falling asleep try avoiding stimulants, both chemical and mental, right before bed. For example, avoid caffeine, reading with a bright light, or watching tv in bed. Try, instead, to wind down, dim the lights and begin relaxing before you head to bed. There are also some great herbal teas, such as chamomile, that can assist insomniacs to make sure you get the sleep that you need.
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