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Sleep Your Way to Better Health

Everyone knows that sleep feels good, but studies suggest that it also may boost your immune system.

Sleep is a natural part of life. While we don’t know all the reasons why the body needs sleep, you can probably feel a clear difference when you get enough sleep compared to when you don’t.

“Sleep allows the body to repair and rejuvenate itself,” says Amanda Bowden R.R.T./ R.P.S.G.T., manager of the Sleep Disorders Laboratory at Harris Methodist H•E•B Hospital. “During sleep, many cells show increased protein production, which the body needs for repair.”

Lack of Sleep May Hurt You
Research by the University of Toronto Center for Sleep and Chronobiology found sleep has a healing effect on the body. A study was performed on 23 men over the course of five nights, while researchers monitored the natural killer cells of participants — a type of small white blood cell that helps the immune system fight bacteria, viruses and tumors.

Participants slept eight hours for four nights and four hours on the fifth night. As a result of one interrupted night of sleep, their natural killer cells were decreased by more than 25 percent the next day.

“Sleep is as important to health as an adequate diet and exercise,” says James Siminski, M.D., medical director of the Sleep Disorders Laboratory at Harris Methodist H•E•B Hospital. “Although no one fully understands the link, sleep seems to help regulate the immune system, so it is important to see a specialist if patients suspect sleep disorders.”

For more information on the Sleep Disorders Laboratory at Harris Methodist H•E•B Hospital, please call 1-888-4-HARRIS (1-888-442-7747) or visit www.texashealth.org/heb. (Summer 2008)

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