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Sleep Your Way To Better Health

There is much evidence to support the fact that the amount of time you sleep could be the most

important predictor of how long you will live!

As a person who has been deep into nutrition for many years, the above statement was pretty

shocking to me. My own knowledge and sharing of nutrition do’s and don’t’s with others has

focused primarily on eating your fruits and veggies, taking some good nutritional supplements,

getting adequate exercise, and not being subjected to too much stress. But the right amount of

sleep as a predictor of longevity??? Well, here’s some things I have learned, much of this

acquired from a book, SUPER FOODS HEALTHSTYLE, written by Steven G. Pratt, M.D., and

Kathy Matthews.

A poll taken in the year 2000 by the National Sleep Foundation found that sleep debt is a

problem for more than half of America’s workforce. Their data suggests that in the last century

we’ve reduced the average amount of time we sleep by 20 percent.

Of course, I suppose that most of us recognize that if we don’t get adequate sleep for a night or

two, we may not function as well the next day. If we work a job where accuracy is super

important, or if we are driving a long distance, we sure don’t want to be sleepy. And we may

even realize that adequate sleep affects our immune system. With a lack of sleep, we may be

more likely to get sick. But tying the optimum amount of sleep into various diseases and even

our longevity…well, maybe that’s another food for thought!

In reality, sleep deprivation is taking a serious toll on our overall health! A sleep debt of merely

3 or 4 hours in a week may have a direct bearing on the following:

Obesity

Coronary heart disease

Hypertension

Diabetes

Immune function

Cognitive performance

Longevity

You do not have to lose huge amounts of sleep before it takes a toll. One study found that

sleeping less than 4 hours per night was associated with a 2.8 times higher rate of mortality for

men and a 1.5 times higher rate for women. “The author of this study also found that length of

sleep time was a better predictor of mortality than smoking, cardiac disease, or hypertension.”

Another study found that people who slept six hours or less a night had a 70 per cent higher

mortality rate over a nine-year period than those who slept seven to eight hours a night!

How much sleep do we need?

A six to twelve year old will need between 10 and a half and 11 and a half hours

of sleep a night.

A teen-ager will require a little less sleep, probably around 9 or 10 hours a night.

An adult should be getting 7 to 8 hours sleep each night.

In addition, it is better for you to sleep at night than during the daytime. In fact, sleeping between

the hours of 10 P.M. and 6 A.M. is considered to be optimal. This allows for your body to

restore its needed melatonin levels in a natural way.

Melatonin is a natural hormone made by your body’s pineal gland. During the day the pineal is

inactive, but when darkness comes, the pineal is “turned on” and begins to actively produce

melatonin. This writer believes that allowing your body to produce melatonin in a natural way,

by sleeping at night, is much wiser for most people, than purchasing melatonin as a supplement.

So, close your eyes at night to avoid diabetes, to lose weight, to strengthen your immune system,

to feel better, and to live longer!

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