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12/07 Sunday 12:02PM

sleep your way to the top

text . Pauline Chan .

Arianna Huffington was filmed on TED in December 2010 sharing her personal insight on the power of sleep. Instead of bragging about our sleep deficits, she urges us to shut our eyes and see the big picture. She suggested we can sleep our way to increased productivity and happiness - and smarter decision-making.

I guess we have all met the men and women with their A-type personalities who brag about their super-busy schedules and often try to impress with a recount of their oh-so-few hours of sleep they had the night before and their Facebook status updates on their lack of sleep.  Sometimes, the bragging even leads to a little competition on who slept less, with sleep-deficit testimonies thrown in to top the opponents for an imaginary trophy.

Harvard Health Publications reported a survey that found more people are sleeping less than six hours a night and 75% people had sleep difficulties a few days per week.  A short-lived bout of insomnia is not something to worry about but chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure and a decrease in immunity to illnesses. Swallowing massive amounts of supplements might seem like a solution to prevent such health problems from popping up but that is not going to sustain one's health in the long run.

The Harvard Women's Health Watch suggests six reasons that getting more ZZZ's is better for you:

Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering the levels of hormones that affect our appetite.

Sleep helps the brain to learn and remember by committing new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. Studies have shown people who slept after learning a task did better on tests later.

Lack of sleep leads to a tendency to fall asleep during the day. Such lapses may contribute to accidents, errors and mishaps at work, on the road or at home.

Sleep loss can result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate and mood swings.  It can lead to lower productivity and poorer decision-making.

Serious sleep disorders have been linked to cardiovascular problems such as hypertension, increased stress hormone levels and irregular heartbeat.

Lack of sleep changes the immune function, including the activity of the body's killer cells.  Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.

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