During sleep, hormones are secreted that regulate blood pressure, encourage growth and stimulate cellular repair, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).
While we are in dreamland, various maintenance routines are running. Neurons that misfired during the day are rebooted and memories are consolidated. Kind of like defragging our internal hard drives, sleep helps us run optimally through our days.
Not getting enough sleep leads to poor decision-making and poor health. According to the NSF, many of us are in this boat. Its 2002 poll found that 80 percent of Americans are not getting enough sleep, making us irritable, bad drivers who are prematurely aging.
So how do we know if we are getting enough sleep? The NSF says that people who get enough sleep should be able to awaken naturally – without an alarm clock!