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The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

10 October 2013

Ten important functions of sleep (part of the chronic illness series)

My fantasy novel Ice Magic, Fire Magic will be coming out late this fall. Read a brief bio of one of the characters, Kassia, today at Thank you, DelSheree!

Sleep is important for everyone, but good sleep and rest are especially important for people with chronic illnesses if they want to feel the best they can. Ironically, many people with chronic illnesses have trouble sleeping well.

I'm going to be writing several posts on sleep. I'm starting today with the basics, listing some of the important functions sleep serves. 

Researchers have much to learn about sleep, but experiments have shown that sleep is essential for survival. Animals deprived of sleep long enough die. Although scientists debate the functions of sleep, they do know that the body behaves differently when asleep:
  • It releases some important hormones mostly or only when you are asleep.
  • Most muscle growth and tissue repair happen during sleep.
  • The brain may consolidate new memories.
  • The brain may discard the useless information it accumulated during the day.

Compared with sleep-deprived animals and/or people, well-rested ones:
have immune systems that work better.
heal wounds faster.
have a better working memory.
solve problems more creatively.
are less likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases.
have a lower risk of stroke.
may have a lower risk of some cancers.
may be less likely to develop osteoporosis.
may have fewer mood disorders.
have a long life expectancy on average.
look more healthy and attractive on average.
feel less hungry and so may be less likely to gain weight.
are less likely to crave junk food instead of healthy food.
feel less stressed on average.
have better judgement.
are more hopeful and friendly.
are less likely to be injured on the job.

In future blog posts, I'll cover why chronic illnesses interfere with sleeping, why the body needs both sleep and rest, prescription medications that interfere with sleep, foods and medicines that may help people fall asleep, sleep disorders, and behavioral changes that can help you sleep better.



Charles Gramlich said...

I used to be able to tolerate long periods will little sleep. Not anymore. I need my rest to function.

Shauna Roberts said...

Same here, CHARLES. Looking back at how hard I worked and how hard I partied in college astonishes me. How did I get by on so little sleep?

CeliaAHKM said...

Hi, Shauna, you might look at the blog or (recently published) book of Lois Maharg, "The Savvy Insomniac". Lois is the sister-in-law of my late father's (wonderful) former next-door-neighbor: