Feature Archive

How To Get a Good Night's Sleep

A good night's sleep...

WebMD Feature

Overlooking the single most important thing you can do for your health is easy with all the clamor surrounding various health products in the marketplace. But sleep -- good-quality sleep -- goes far and beyond those products when it comes to restoring your health. And best of all, sleep is free.

Organizing your life so you get the highest quality sleep possible is well worth the effort. And quantity doesn't necessarily equal quality: You may sleep for many hours, but if your sleep isn't deep enough, or if your sleep cycle is disturbed, you may still be at greater risk for illness. A simple way to gauge the quality of your sleep is to see how refreshed you feel when you wake up.

A Matter of Hormones

Part of sleep's effect lies in hormones. During deep sleep the production of growth hormone is at its peak. Growth hormone speeds the absorption of nutrients and amino acids into your cells, and aids the healing of tissues throughout your body. The hormone also stimulates your bone marrow, where your immune system cells are born.

Melatonin, often called the sleep hormone, is also produced during sleep. This hormone inhibits tumors from growing, prevents viral infections, stimulates your immune system, increases antibodies in your saliva, has antioxidant properties and enhances the quality of sleep.