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Sleep: The Elixir of Health and Anti-Aging

Sleep has gotten a bad rap in today’s go-go-go culture. Medical research now shows that those who live by the  “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” mentality, could literally be walking to an early grave.  


Sleep is the foundation that all of health is built upon. Matthew Walker's book, "Why We Sleep," underscores the impact sleep has and provides scientific evidence linking insufficient sleep with health issues ranging from compromised immune function to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, lower lifetime salary, cancer, and decreased life expectancy.



I’m sure you know that sleep and memory are tightly linked. But do you know why? 


REM sleep, the stage associated with vivid dreaming, plays a critical role in emotional regulation and creativity. People who get good quality sleep exhibit better problem-solving skills and greater emotional resilience than those who are sleep-deprived.


Non-REM sleep, or deep sleep, is crucial to clearing our mental hard-drive - it’s what keeps our brains from getting overloaded. Those who don’t have a long enough sleep window lose out on portions of both of these and suffer long-term consequences.


Sleep also plays a vital role in metabolic health and a lack of sleep can affect the body's ability to regulate blood sugar. One study showed that sleeping less than six hours per night for just one week significantly disrupted gene activity equivalent to the onset of diabetes in completely healthy adults who didn’t exhibit those markers before the study.


Emerging therapies such as red light therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) are also being explored for their potential to improve sleep quality. Preliminary studies suggest that red light therapy might influence melatonin production and circadian rhythms, potentially helping individuals fall asleep faster and achieve a deeper sleep. 


Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, traditionally used for its benefits in healing and inflammation reduction, has also been examined for its effects on sleep. Some clinical trials indicate that HBOT can enhance brain oxygenation and circulation, which may contribute to better sleep patterns. Although research in this area is still in its infancy, the potential for HBOT to alleviate sleep disorders presents a fascinating area for further study.


The importance of sleep cannot be overstated. It may be more critical to our well-being than the food we eat or the exercise we get. Given the compelling evidence, prioritizing sleep is a wise investment in our overall health and longevity. As research continues to unfold, it is clear that improving sleep quality will remain a key focus in enhancing health and extending our years of disease-free life.


This article was written by Yuliya Semenovych, Founder of Elixir Health and Wellness, and published in the June 2024 issue of Natural Awakening magazine.


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