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 Post subject: Sleep's healing properties
PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2008 5:58 pm 
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Sleep's healing properties

The following information was gathered from Webmd, Vitanet, CNN & Discovery Health:

Restorative Theory
According to this theory, the body restores itself during sleep. Researchers know that neurotoxins are neutralized during sleep, and have reported that cells divide, tissue synthesizes and growth hormones are released during slow-wave (or non-REM) sleep. Athletes, for example, spend more time in slow-wave sleep (Stages 3 and 4) than others, and children and young people spend a larger portion of their sleep in slow-wave sleep than older people.
A matter of hormones

Part of sleep's effect lies in hormones. During deep sleep, the production of growth hormone is at its peak. Growth hormone speeds the absorption of nutrients and amino acids into your cells and aids the healing of tissues throughout your body. The hormone also stimulates your bone marrow, where your immune system cells are born.

Melatonin, often called the sleep hormone, is also produced during sleep. This hormone inhibits tumors from growing, prevents viral infections, stimulates your immune system, increases antibodies in your saliva, has antioxidant properties and enhances the quality of sleep.
Rhythm and blues

Some studies show the value of maintaining a steady and natural rhythm in sleep patterns.

Researchers at the University of Toronto Center for Sleep and Chronobiology are uncovering important insights into how sleep heals. Dr. Harvey Moldofsky and his colleagues studied the natural rhythm of sleep by interrupting the sleep of a group of medical students. Over several nights, each time the students entered a deep-sleep phase, called the "non-REM" or "delta" phase, the researchers would interfere. After a few nights of these disruptions, the students developed the classic symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

Moldofsky conducted another study examining how the immune system reacts to sleep deprivation. Researchers examined natural killer cells -- a component of the immune system that attacks bacteria, viruses and tumors. During the study, 23 men slept about eight hours the first four nights. On the fifth night, researchers woke the men up at 3 a.m., giving them four hours less sleep than usual. This one insult to their sleep pattern caused the activity of the natural killer cells to decrease by more than one-fourth the next day.

A survey conducted by the American Cancer Society concluded that people who sleep 6 hours or less per night, or who sleep 9 hours or more, had a death rate 30 percent higher than those who regularly slept 7 to 8 hours. Even those who slept 6 hours or less who otherwise had no health problems had death rates 1.8 times higher than those who slept "normal" hours.

Mounting data has confirmed that sleep problems are strongly associated with virtually all major illnesses ranging from cardiovascular disease to diabetes, infections and cancer, and obesity to depression.
As the public becomes increasingly aware of the health ramifications of sleep disturbances, more and more people are turning to sleeping pills. In fact, according to the IMS Health research, about 42 million prescriptions for sleeping pills were filled last year in the U.S. This represents a nearly 60 percent increase over the past five years alone. Some projections anticipate that the current $2.7 billion in annual sleeping pill sales will more than triple by 2010.

But instead of solving the problem, sleeping pills often make sleep problems worse. Sleeping pills commonly result in dependence. They can alter normal sleep architecture, cause amnesia and residual daytime “hangovers,” and they often result in rebound insomnias when discontinued. Some sleep specialists argue that sleeping pill use is further associated with significant increases in mortality. Given the sense of desperation that can accompany insomnia, even such very serious concerns have not prevented sales of sleeping pills from skyrocketing in recent years.

Rather than artificially simulating sleep with chemical knockouts, sleep-promoting supplements such as melatonin, valerian, and other botanicals support that body’s own sleep-facilitating mechanisms more naturally. Such products work in greater harmony with nature and, unlike conventional drugs, they do not stimulate sleep, they supplement sleep. Think of natural supplements inviting us to sleep. The very potency of many natural products lies in their very gentleness, which works cooperatively with both body and mind to induce healthful sleep.

Nighty-night.... :sleep:

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