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Sleep - do we really need it?

We know that nutritious food, a positive attitude, water and exercise is vital for our health, but there is one element of health that affects nearly every function within our body that is often overlooked, frequently neglected and shamefully deemed unnecessary. Sleep. Yep, the humble shut eye. It is a necessary function that has as far reaching health implications beyond feeling sleepy mid afternoon. Inadequate sleep can be linked to every major modern disease including increase risk of cancer, coronary heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer's, depression and diabetes according to sleep scientist Professor Matthew Walker. It affects our moods, our memory, our ability to learn and even our weight. Inadequate sleep can, quite literally, reduce our lifespan.

An elephant may only need 4 hours a night, but us mere mortals adults require 8-9 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. It is estimated that two thirds of adults are sleep deprived. Our modern, post industrial busy lives often don’t allow us the luxury for early nights, or sleep ins. In fact most of us compromise our sleep at one end of the day or the other, and sometimes both! But what if you know that by doing so you were cutting 5, 10 years off your life? Will you change your habits or will you keep with the maxim “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”?

So how much did you get last night?

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