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Why Sleeping Well Is So Important

February 9th, 2012 Healthy Living

You've probably been told countless times how important it is to get a good night's sleep - parents, doctors and everyone in between may have mentioned it to you at some point in your life. Perhaps you have first-hand knowledge of what a lack of sleep can do to you! It's a natural regenerative process that virtually all life on the planet needs. But what happens when you turn out the lights? Why is sleep so important?

According to the National Institutes of Health, it's still unclear exactly why we sleep, but scientists say the answer may have something to do with our biological clock, which helps operate the vast majority of our bodily functions. The region of the brain known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus plays a large part when we're under the covers. It's the "conductor" of a "symphony of hormones."

When you don't get enough sleep, the suprachiasmatic nuclues doesn't have the chance to work its magic, which means you may be chemically misaligned. You may feel groggy and cranky after one sleepless night, but keep it up and you might soon be at an increased risk of depression and cardiovascular disease.

It's generally accepted that adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep a night to feel fully refreshed in the morning. If you're trying to rest better at night, you may need to change your routine to help your brain settle down at the end of the day. As tempting as it may be to watch one more episode of your favorite television show, switch it off and read a magazine for 20 minutes or so. You may soon be ready to drift off!