The Health Benefits of Sleep

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By: Amy Severson, FNP, APRN – Henning Clinic

Amy Severson, FNP, APRN

Amy Severson, FNP, APRN

Sleep is more important than many people think. You may not think about why you sleep, but we can likely agree that most of the time sleep makes us feel better. When we get a good night’s rest, we feel more alert, more energetic, happier and better able to function. When we do not get enough sleep, we may feel tired, sluggish or irritable.

Sleep is one of the first things to go when people feel strapped for time. Many people view sleep as a luxury, but when your body is sleep deprived, it goes into a state of stress. In this state, the body’s functions are put on high alert, causing an increase in blood pressure and a production of stress hormones. Sleep is the time for your body to fix the damage caused by stress, ultraviolet rays or other harmful exposures.

While a good night’s sleep is no guarantee of good health, too little sleep can affect your overall well being. When you are sleep deprived, you generally feel slow‐moving and more vulnerable to picking up illnesses and not being able to fight them off. The potential, long‐term health consequences of inadequate sleep often go unnoticed; however, if sleep deprivation continues long‐term, research has shown a connection to things like lower immunity, heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. Although many researchers are just beginning to document the connections between adequate sleep and good health, most agree that high‐quality sleep may be as important to your health and well‐being as good nutrition and exercise.

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In addition to health risks, studies also link people’s lack of sleep with obesity. One study has found that the lack of sleep may be the biggest contributor to childhood obesity. Sleep deprivation has been thought to influence the balance of the body’s hormones that affects appetite. Many experts would agree that a good night’s sleep is one strategy in controlling or losing weight.

Sleep is an individual thing. While the amount of sleep needed can vary from person to person, most people need at least seven hours every night and research shows that kids do better with at least 10 or 11 hours of shut‐eye each night.

Here are some tips to help you rest more peacefully at night:

 Try to go to bed at the same time every night.

 Limit your caffeine intake.

 Don’t exercise right before bed.

 Use your bed for sleeping – not working, playing games or talking on the phone. Train your bed to associate your bed with sleep.

People who get the sleep they need, not only feel better, but also increase their chances of living longer, healthier, more productive lives.

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Amy with her beautiful family.

About the Author: I have worked for TCHC for the past 13 years. The first five years, I floated between the rural clinics in Bertha, Sebeka and Ottertail, and started full time in Henning, my hometown, in the summer of 2007. For the past eight years I have been privileged to work in the town I was raised and care for families I have known all my life. I live with my husband Eric on East Battle Lake. We have three children: Ethan, age 13, Emma, age 11, and Elliot, age 7.

The information and opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author, and are not designed to constitute advice or recommendations as to any disease, ailment or physical condition. You should not act or rely solely upon any information contained in these articles without seeking the advice of your personal physician.