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Sleep is one important component of health

Erich C. Nall | 4/13/2011, 5 p.m.

Sleep is the focus of our Ultimate Transformation Moment this week. We tend to overlook the vital importance of sleeping.

Sleep is one of the single most important components of our health and wellness. For most people, eight hours of sleep is required, although there are exceptions. I understand just how very difficult it may be to actually get eight hours of sleep, and I know that many readers just said to themselves, "Eight hours? Is he kidding?"

I have to confess that on most nights I don't sleep eight hours myself. However, let's look at what happens when we go don't get enough sleep on a regular basis.

We go into a state of sleep deprivation which can make you more susceptible to various diseases.
Chronic sleep loss effects the body's ability to repair and rejuvenate itself every night. Without the ability to repair itself properly, several problems may arise.

One problem is that the pancreas fails to function properly and the production of insulin is compromised. Continued lack of sleep can play a part in bringing on diabetes. Rest combined with eating right, drinking water and regular exercise, helps the body to fight off many diseases naturally.

Sleep deprivation also plays a role in the onset of hypertension and heart disease. When we don't sleep, the body maintains fluid, which again may hinder the body from repairing itself.

For example if you have an injury, the swelling may remain longer due to lack of rest. Additionally, the swelling moves into the body system and can affect the cardiovascular system.

Lack of sleep is also a culprit, when it comes to weight gain and obesity. The lack of sleep can increase the appetite, and make you hungrier. The hormones in the body receive the signal to eat in order to survive.

Because we become unable to pay attention and/or react quickly in situations, and for many more reasons, we must make sleep a priority. Here are three suggestions to help increase the amount of sleep you get:

One--Get up and exercise. When you get up early in the morning and have a good brisk walk or exercise, when the night comes around you'll want to go to sleep. You will also go to sleep a lot sooner.

Two--Minimize the types of foods that keep you from going to sleep such as caffeine, alcohol, or eating heavy meals late at night. Late night eating causes the body to use a lot of energy processing food instead of sleeping and resting peacefully.

Three
--Give yourself a bedtime. Make 9:30 p.m. your bedtime. Start today. See whether or not you can get more rest.

By gaining a few additional hours of sleep, you will notice an increase in your ability to focus and this will allow you to make better decisions in your day. You will find that you are present in your daily activities, instead of the opposite feeling you have encountered while walking around in a sleep-like state.

Make it a priority to get in the bed, get more rest, to give your bodies more time to heal and repair.

That's our Ultimate Transformations Moment. Peace and be more.

Erich Nall is the owner and founder of Ultimate Transformations Training in Los Angeles. He is the author of "21 Days to Ultimate Health and Wellness." The certified trainer, nutritionist, motivational speaker, and dedicated life coach is a regular guest and commentator on KJLH 102.3 FM's the "Front Page" with Dominique DiPrima. As founder of Collegiate Search Youth Organization, Erich has been assisting youth in the community for more than 20 years.