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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Aging cont'd

In the last post I talked about how pranayama can reduce stress and that in turn can lead to a longer and happier life. Stress is one of the major contributors in cell death but there are other factors that can cause cell death. One such factor is the lack of sleep.

We all know sleep rejuvenates the body and the mind.  Lack of sleep can lead to all kinds of problems that affect almost all of the physiological systems in our body such as: brain and nervous system, cardiovascular, immune system as well as many metabolic factors. Over a long period of time lack of sleep will bring about premature aging and premature death. But why is this and how can you learn to sleep better?

When you are awake and running around the cells in your body are in high gear. They are burning fuel (glucose) and exhausting water and carbon dioxide as by products. If this goes on for too long the cells will eventually play out. They can't keep going indefinitely. This is true for brain cells as well as all the other cells in your body. They need rest and the best way is to become inactive. The whole body needs to go into a sort of hibernation mode so that growth and repair can occur.

When cells divide (one cell becomes two) the tissues that they comprise (muscles, neurons, connective) grow and get stronger.  Cell division requires energy so the process can't go on very well the same time the cell is having to carry on daily activities.You would be burning the candle at both ends, so to speak. It would take too much energy and cells aren't that big. Think of a cell as a microscopic power plant. Fuel coming in and getting burned up for movement (work) and waste products going out. The demand for work cannot exceed the capacity to produce it without something breaking down. If the demand is too great the cell will die.

When more cells are dying than are being made senescence occurs - the process of aging and dying.  So, keeping your cells strong, healthy, alive, and continuely dividing and growing requires the whole body to shut down for awhile. If you have a hard time falling asleep what can you do short of taking drugs? I will answer that question in the next post.  It's not that difficult.

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