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Sleep And Rest

Source: A Handbook Of Health

Why We Need Rest. A most important element in a life of healthful
exercise, study, and play is rest. Even when we are hard at work, we
need frequent breathing spells and changes of occupation and amusement
to keep one part of our muscles, or our brains, from poisoning itself.
But after a time, in even the strongest and toughest of us, there comes
a period when no change of occupation, no mere sitting still, will rest
us; we begin to feel drowsy and want to go to sleep. This means partly
that the fatigue poisons, in spite of fresh air and change, have piled
up faster than we can burn them, so that we need sleep to restore the

All day long we are making more carbon dioxid than the oxygen we breathe
in can take care of; while we sleep, the situation is reversed--the
oxygen is gaining on the carbon dioxid. This is why the air in our
bedrooms ought to be kept especially pure and fresh.

But the need goes deeper than this: sleeping and waking are simply parts
of the great rhythm in which all life beats--a period of work followed
by a period of rest. Continuous, never-ceasing activity for any living
thing quickly means death. While externally the body appears to be at
rest, the processes of growth and upbuilding probably go on more rapidly
when we are asleep than when we are awake. The benefits of exercise are
made permanent and built into the body during the sleep that follows it.
The more rapidly young animals are growing, the more hours out of the
twenty-four they spend in sleep. When you sleep, you are not stopping
all the useful activities of your body and mind, you are simply giving
some of the most useful and most important of them a chance to work. The
only likeness between sleep and death is that in both the body is quiet
and the eyes are closed. Really we are never more alive and growing than
when asleep.

It is of the utmost importance that young children especially have all
the sleep they need, and that is precisely all that they can be induced
to take. The best rule for you, then, to follow, is to go to bed when
you feel sleepy, and to get up when you wake rested. Every child under
twelve should have at least ten hours of sleep, and every grown person
eight, or better still, nine hours. Time spent in sound, refreshing
sleep, is time well spent. If you cannot sleep well, it is a signal that
something is wrong with your health, or your habits--a danger signal of
great importance, which should be attended to at once. The best and only
safe sleep-producer is exercise in the open air.

Next: Disorders Of Muscles And Bones

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