We all know that getting enough sleep is important, but even more so for people with auto-immune, or compromised immune systems. We always feel so much better after a good night’s sleep. I can personally attest that my reactions are faster, and my thoughts are clearer when I get at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Our bodies produce extra protein molecules while we’re sleeping, and these help to mend our bodies at a cellular level. All kinds of factors can cause damage such as stress, infection, pollutants, but all those can be repaired while we’re sleeping.

One of our organ systems that are constantly under pressure is our heart and cardiovascular system. Sleep helps to reduce the levels of stress and inflammation in our body, and in turn can help keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels lower. It also can reduce high levels of stress by lowering the elevated levels of stress hormones, which are the natural results of today’s fast paced lifestyle.

A good night’s sleep can also improve our memory. I know when I don’t get enough sleep, I experience a foggy feeling and it becomes difficult for me to concentrate, especially when I have to multi-task. When you have the correct amount of sleep, it allows our brains to better process new experiences and knowledge, which in turn increases our understanding and retention. I bet you didn’t realize that when you sleep, your brain is busy organizing and correlating memories. One of its other main functions is the release of hormones regulating energy, mood and mental acuity. To complete its work, the brain needs at least seven to eight hours of sleep. In most people, when you sleep less, your concentration, creativity, mood regulation, and productivity all takes a hit.

To understand why the right amount of sleep is so important, I will explain how sleeps works.
Healthy sleep is divided into four-stage cycles. As we progress through stages one and two, we become increasingly unplugged from the world until we reach the deep sleep that occurs in stage three. In deep sleep, both brain and body activity drop to their lowest point during the cycle and blood is redirected from the brain to our muscles.

The fourth and final stage is named for the rapid eye movement, which most people know of as REM, which is its defining characteristic. Our brains become busily active in REM sleep, even more than when we’re awake, and that’s when dreaming happens in this fourth and final stage. In a full night’s sleep, we experience at least three or four such cycles with each lasting from sixty to ninety minutes.

Deep sleep is crucial for physical renewal, hormonal regulation and growth. Without deep sleep, you are more likely to get sick and feel depressed. A lack of REM sleep results in slower cognitive and social processing, problems with memory and difficulty concentrating.

So make it a priority in your busy lives to get at least 7 to 8 hours of good sleep a night!