Volume 1 Issue 5

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Sleep is More Important Than Food By Tony Schwartz, author of "Be Excellent at Anything" Let's cut to the chase. Say you decide to go on a fast, and so you effectively starve yourself for a week. At the end of seven days, how would you be feeling? You'd probably be hungry, perhaps a little weak, and almost certainly somewhat thinner. But basically you'd be fine. Now let's say you deprive yourself of sleep for a week. Not so good. After several days, you'd be almost completely unable to function. That's why Amnesty International lists sleep deprivation as a form of torture. Here's what former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin had to say in his memoir White Nights about the experience of being deprived of sleep in a KGB prison: "In the head of the interrogated prisoner a haze begins to form. His spirit is wearied to death, his legs are unsteady and he has one sole desire: to sleep… Anyone who has experienced this desire knows that not even hunger and thirst are comparable with it." So why is sleep one of the first things we're willing to sacrifice as the demands in our lives keep rising? The Importance of Sleep No one would disagree that sleep is absolutely critical to human health; after all, sleep is the period of time when the body and mind are recharged. But does the quality of sleep have anything to do with the likelihood of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, or high blood pressure? According to recent scientific studies, the answer is definitely yes. Sleep plays a prominent role in regulating hormones, including the hormones that in turn regulate blood sugar levels. Sleep deprivation has been shown to lead to impaired insulin action and multiple metabolic disturbances consistent with obesity and type 2 diabetes. It now appears that in addition to causing daytime drowsiness, mood and memory disturbances, impotence, and car wrecks, sleep disorders also promote insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease. The Architecture of Sleep You may think that once you go to bed, you soon fall into a deep sleep that lasts for most of the night, progressing back into light sleep in the morning when it's time to wake up. In reality, the sleep cycle is a lot more complicated. During the night, your sleep follows a predictable pattern, moving back and forth between deep restorative sleep (deep sleep) and more alert stages and dreaming (REM sleep). Together, the stages of REM and non-REM sleep form a complete sleep cycle. Each cycle typically lasts about 90 minutes and repeats four to six times over the course of the night. Abby's Magazine - September / October 2013 | Page 19

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