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Sleep your Way to Better Health

There is a reason the doctor wants you to call her in the morning. If you slept well, you’ll feel better.

In fact, if you didn’t sleep well that night or most nights, that might be the cause right there for why you needed to call the doctor to start with.

Sleep is the body and brain’s repair cycle, smoothing out the stress cracks from working and thinking hard all day.  (Or less hard for some people. You know who they are.)

During sleep, your body produces and releases all kinds of hormones. Think of them as tiny little repair crews. They get to work on your brain, muscles and other organs. They swab the decks with hormones, helping your body heal quickly. They even repair your immune system and your arteries, reducing the risk of heart problems, kidney problems, and strokes. Sleep also regulates the hormones that control whether you feel hungry or full. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll feel hungry.

There is so much happening in your body during sleep that scientists are still trying to keep up. But what they’ve proven so far is that good sleep is good and poor sleep is bad. The amount of sleep people need varies, depending on age, but eight hours is a good place to start.

If you don’t sleep well and the repair crew can’t get the job done, the damage builds up, just like the drip under the sink or the missing shingles on the roof. You can let it go for a little while, but eventually, the damage will be done.

With sleep, if you miss even one night, your body will pay the price. You won’t think clearly, your coordination will be off and you’ll feel hungry. Ongoing sleeplessness really chips away at your health. Sleep deficiency alters activity in parts of the brain. If you’re sleep deficient, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior.

If deprived long enough, your body will steal sleep when it can. You know when you lose track of a lecture or miss a step when someone is telling a story? You might have been asleep, in what scientists call microsleep. (When Aunt Betty goes on and on with one of her stories and you doze off, that might or might not be microsleep. Scientists haven’t studied the effect of Aunt Betty’s stories.)

Those itty-bitty naps can be deadly if you’re behind the wheel of a car, ship or plane. Studies also show that being sleepy while driving is worse than driving drunk. If you’re sleepy, get someone else
to drive, or call Uber.

Given sleep is so important, make sure one thing isn’t keeping your awake: an uncomfortable mattress. Voila, the magic mattress in a box, can solve at least one thing that’s keeping you from a good night’s sleep.