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Sleep well and live long

June 24, 2014

Sleep well and live long

A good night’s sleep is a vital part of maintaining good health. The amount of sleep that we require depends on few different things such as weather you work during the day and sleep at night or work at night and sleep during the day or whether you are physically active or not less active during your waking hours.

There are a number of factors that determine how much sleep you should be getting but your age is definitely the most important factor. Infants require twice as much sleep as an adult and usually sleep about 16 hours a day. Pre-schoolers up to pre-teens generally need 10-11 hours and by the time the teenage years roll around about 9 hours will do. Eight hours a night is what is recommended for adults.

Research shows that about 1 in 3 Canadian adults experience some form of insomnia. Some individuals find it hard to fall asleep while others have no problem falling asleep but tend to wake up many times during the night. Research also shows that low levels of a hormone called melatonin directly affect sleep patterns. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. This hormone helps to regulate other hormones which all help to regulate the body's circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is your body’s “internal clock” that plays a crucial role in when we fall asleep and when we wake up. Studies indicate that as we age melatonin levels decrease which may explain why as we age we tend to sleep less. Other studies conclude that melatonin supplements may help people with disrupted circadian rhythms such as people that work shift work and those with low melatonin levels to sleep better. It may assist in reducing the time it takes to fall asleep, increasing the number of sleeping hours, and boosting daytime alertness.

Other studies suggest that low melatonin levels are related to other health conditions such as breast and prostate cancer and that using a melatonin supplement bay be beneficial in treating irritable bowel syndrome, reducing the frequency of seizures from epilepsy and some symptoms of menopause.

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