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Sleep — sources, health benefits at

Saturday, December 16, 2017 by

Sleep can be defined as a period of reduced activity and results in a decreased responsiveness to external stimuli. It is associated with a typical posture, such as lying down with the eyes closed in humans. In an article published on the website, sleep was defined as “a naturally-occurring, reversible, periodic, and recurring state in which consciousness and muscular activity is temporarily suspended or diminished, and responsiveness to outside stimuli is reduced.”

The neurotransmitters are responsible for the control of whether a person is asleep or awake by acting on different groups of nerve cells in the brain. Other nerve cells located at the base of the brain also start signaling when a person falls asleep as they “switch off” the signals that keep a person awake. There are five phases of sleep: stages 1, 2, 3, 4, and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. These stages start from stage 1 to REM sleep, then the cycle repeats with stage 1. A person spends about 50 percent of his total sleep time in stage 2, almost 30 percent in REM sleep, and 30 percent in the other stages.

The amount of sleep a person needs depend on different factors, such as age, lifestyle, health, and whether a person has been getting enough sleep lately. Generally, teenagers need nine to 10 hours of sleep a day, while adults need seven to eight hours a day.

Health benefits of sleep

Sleep is an essential human need. Having enough sleep provides many health benefits. One of these is that it keeps the heart healthy. Lack of sleep has been linked to worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Another benefit is that it may help prevent cancer. It is believed that those people who work the late shift are more prone to developing breast and colon cancer.

Sleep also reduces stress. When a person lacks sleep, he/she goes into a state of stress. In addition, sleep reduces inflammation. The rise of stress hormones due to lack of sleep increases the level of inflammation in the body, creating a higher risk for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Sleep also makes a person feel energized and alert. Moreover, it boosts memory. During sleep, the brain processes the things that happened during the day, connecting events, sensory input, feelings, and memories. Another benefit of getting enough sleep is it helps in weight loss. Scientists have discovered that people who sleep less than seven hours a night are more likely to be overweight or obese. They believe that lack of sleep affects the balance of hormones in the body that affect the appetite.

Even napping during the day is beneficial. A study showed that people who napped several times a week had a lower chance of dying from heart disease, while those who nap at work had lower stress levels. Napping also enhances memory, cognitive function, and mood. Sleep may also lower the risk of depression as well as help the body repair itself. When a person sleeps, the body relaxes and repairs the damage due to stress, ultraviolet rays, and other harmful exposure. The cells also produce more protein when sleeping. These proteins form the building blocks for cells, enabling them to repair the damage.

Body systems supported by sleep

The body systems supported by sleep include the cardiovascular, nervous, digestive, endocrine, and immune systems.

Where to learn more


Sleep prevents heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

Sleep reduces stress and prevents depression.

Sleep reduces inflammation and helps the body repair itself.

Sleep boosts energy; increases alertness; and improves memory, cognition, and mood.

Sleep may help in weight loss.

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