As medical research advances in an effort to help people live longer and better, one relatively simple thing has proven to be an effective weapon for slowing the aging process: SLEEP.
Sleep is as essential to our health and wellness as eating and drinking. Without sleep our body and mind can't perform crucial functions. For instance, sleep allows the brain to clear out all unnecessary neural pathways and toxins in a literal “brain dump.”
We also need sleep to keep our immunity in check, and for our memory and a healthy metabolism. All of these functions are necessary if we want to age slowly and gracefully.
Improve Physical Health
One of the best ways to fight aging and live longer is to protect your physical health. After all, your body and brain are the keys to living a long, healthy life. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you are endangering your body. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a chronic sleep deficiency can result in the following health problems:
- Increased obesity
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
Additionally, your immune system is jeopardized when you aren’t getting enough sleep. Your body becomes unable to ward off mild diseases and common infections, putting you at risk for other, more serious health problems.
All of this adds up to one thing: a lack of sleep makes it impossible for your body to remain healthy. If your body is constantly under attack due to illnesses and infections, it is unable to heal and repair itself. These health issues can also take years off of your life.
Your skin and muscles are also affected by your sleep. As you sleep, your body releases growth hormones that repair and rejuvenate your skin cells and muscles. If you don't get enough sleep, it will show literally on your face – and your body.
Since being active is one of the most important things you can do for your health, the benefit of muscle repair and rejuvenation while you sleep helps you to return sooner to exercising after an injury.
Reduce Risky Behaviors
When we are tired we are more likely to make bad decisions. For example, if you are tired and sluggish due to lack of sleep, you are more likely to choose foods high in sugar to give yourself a jolt of energy.
Unfortunately, the excess glucose caused by sugar leads to accelerated destruction of cells, tissues and organs. Besides premature cell death, too much sugar can result in health problems including high blood pressure and diabetes. Such medical conditions exacerbate the aging process, and can often lead to more serious health problems including early death.
Increase Your Sleep, Increase Your Life Span
If these warning signs aren’t enough to encourage you to sleep more soundly, then consider how sleep affects your quality of life. According to Health in a study conducted with women 50 to 70 years of age, more women died who got fewer than five hours of sleep per night.
Along with the study, Dr. Raymonde Jean, sleep medicine director of St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City, states, “If you sleep better, you can certainly live better. It’s pretty clear.”
That says it all, if you want to slow the aging process, forget the magic pills, potions and expensive lotions. Simply get more sleep.