Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, results in impairment of judgement, depression, heart problems, obesity and drastic reduction in general well-being of an individual.

In an extreme case, sleep deprivation has also resulted in death through heart failure. In fact, the first sign of sickness is fretful sleep.  How lack of sleep produces ill health has remained a mystery.

Now, slowly, scientific investigations are solving this puzzle. One of the accepted theories so far has been that sleep helps in both consolidation and removal of memories. We perceive the world during the day through our senses and it results in memory formation both shallow and deep.

Sleep, it seems, helps in consolidating and removing some of these memories uncluttering the brain. Another recent, but fascinating, theory (backed with experiments) has shown that sleep helps in flushing out toxic protein waste and biological debris from the brain, formed during waking hours.

It seems that during sleep the relaxation of brain helps in opening up the channels through which the debris flows into the blood streams and is removed from it.  Studies have also shown that sleep helps flush out harmful protein plaque (beta amyloid) which is responsible for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia.

Thus good sleep is extremely essential for a healthy brain and body. The build-up of toxins in the brain due to inadequate sleep also affects the body. Though there is very little understanding of how this happens, a probable cause is the passage of this information by the vagus nerve to different parts of the body.  

Production of deep sleep can also be helped by meditation. Studies world over have shown that long term practice of meditation helps in toning both the mind and body.  A good meditation practice to follow for quickly falling asleep is to close the eyes and focus attention onto the center of forehead.

This can be done just before going to sleep and also when one wakes up at night and has difficulty in falling asleep again.

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