Sleeping Your Way to Health

Ever heard the phrase ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead?’  Well, the reality is that the lack of sleep will bring death to one’s door sooner than one may think. Across the United States, it’s evident that American culture has been blessed by its ingenuity and determination to pursue goals, dreams and careers. However it has also been plagued by this drive, which forces one to sacrifice a vital aspect from their lives; this sacrificial offering is deep, relaxed, adequate sleep.

More than ever in American history, pharmaceutical companies are producing over-the-counter and prescription drugs for insomnia. Some drugs act as an antihistamine that suppresses the body’s natural function to govern its immune system — and the most modern sleep aid drugs affect brain functions, altering how it manages itself. These drugs must also combat a more modern threat caused by energy drinks. These drinks such as Red Bull, Rockstar, Gogirl and the like, push the body’s adrenal system into overdrive. This creates an even greater risk of producing more of the stress hormone Cortisol, thereby leading to metabolic imbalance. Eventually these energy drinks begin to lose potency; this makes it difficult for consumers to regulate their sleep naturally, which then prompts the consumption of more sleep aids.

Keeping the above mentioned sleep imbalance cycle in mind, one is brought to ask the question ‘How can something like lack of sleep negatively affect my health?’  The answer lies in the reason why sleep is necessary. According to a Harvard Medical School study, sleep is necessary for the brain and body to repair its cells. Simply put, sleep allows the body to repair muscle and other tissue damage caused by daily activity. Additionally, sleep plays a significant role in building the body’s defenses “…against infection, chronic illness and even heart disease.” Lack of sleep can also cause laxity in ligaments and tendons leaving the body vulnerable to joint and soft tissue injuries.

Sleep allows for brain waves to regulate and stay sharp enough to retain and extract information, along with making executive decisions without causing anxiety. It also prevents agitation in one’s demeanor with others and it allows for individuals to become more responsive to issues rather than reactive. This is partially due to balanced levels of cortisol in the system, rather than anxiety-ridden agitation and mood swings resulting from too much cortisol in the system caused by insomnia.

Another variable that may affect an individual’s sleep revolves around oxygen. With today’s medical advances, sleep studies are now performed with alarming results often involving lack of oxygen. These sleep studies have collected data concluding that individuals who snore and experience insomnia are most likely lacking adequate oxygen while sleeping. The most common and quantifiable form of treatment for such a condition is the use of a breathing apparatus called Continues Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). The CPAP is worn at night and assists the body by ensuring adequate oxygen intake as it starts to sleep. A CPAP has been credited with remedying health issues caused by lack of oxygen, and it has assisted individuals who have been long-term “light sleepers.”

Example of Modern CPAP Mask Called "SleepWeaver Cloth CPAP Mask"

Lack of sleep also affects the metabolism. In a healthy sleeper the body burns thousands of calories. This is due to the fact that sleep is a necessary activity for the body and it should be treated no differently than the body’s need for food. This means that when sleep has been regulated, an individual can maintain a healthy weight by focusing on maintaining adequate sleep regularly.

Given these facts about sleep, it is clear that sleep is not a luxury. It is, rather, a necessity and key ingredient to one’s health and state of mind. This is why it is vital for individuals to seriously manage their time and look after their respective bodies so that they can ensure their bodies receive adequate sleep. Otherwise that phrase ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead,’ may very well be a self-fulfilling prophesy.