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The testimony of key witness Rachel Jeantel in the Trayvon Martin case so far has been painful for me to watch for a variety of reasons. Rather than give my commentary on this ongoing case, I want to make a point about what a difference a day makes, especially one with rest without much of it at all. And since I am functioning off of six hours of sleep within the last 48 hours, this is an issue that is top of mind for me.

On the second day of Rachel’s testimony, the prosecutor Don West asked the 19-year old, “You feeling OK today? You seem different than yesterday,” West said.”I got some sleep,” she answered.  As for if being rested will help her testimony, that’s to be determined. But one thing is for sure. Sleep can impact life and death.

An expert witness in the Michael Jackson trial said recently that the musician had gone 60 days without sleep, which inevitably lead to his death. Most of us have gone a night or two with little or no sleep, but to go weeks or months without sleep seems unimaginable.

Lack of sleep can cause confusion, dizziness, headaches, and in extreme cases, death.

When sleep loss is at its extreme, it can definitely lead to death. A condition called fatal familiar insomnia involves progressively worsening insomnia and leads to hallucinations, delirium, and confusing states like that of dementia. The average survival span for patients diagnosed with FFI after the onset of symptoms is 18 months. The disease affects only about 100 people.

Sleep Does a Body Good

Sleep makes you feel better, but its importance goes far beyond boosting your mood or minimizing under-eye circles. Sufficient sleep is a critical element of a healthy lifestyle and can benefit your heart, weight, mind and more.

As one study put it, research indicates that people who get less sleep – six or fewer hours a night – have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more. Inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging. Further, insufficient sleep affects weight, emotional stability, reaction time and decision making. Lack of sleep when driving can be as harmful as drinking before getting behind the wheel.

As an example, how long can you drive your car on empty before you run out of gas? Not only does driving on empty prevent you from moving forward, but it ruins your car. Likened to a car, you need to lubricate your own engine – oil changes are important. It’s only natural for you to need a tune-up. When you drive your car on empty, it messes up your emissions standards. Basically, it throws off the pH balance of your tank, especially if it’s an older car. Well, you need proper pH balance for good health. The pH level is one of the most important balance systems of the body. Your pH balance is determined by the food you eat. If your pH balance is off, the more you are prone to disease, illnesses and ultimately death.

In our interview, Andrea Kelly of the reality show “Hollywood Exes,” a mother of three and the ex-wife of R&B singer/producer R. Kelly, put it this way: “As mothers, we have nothing to give our children if our tank is on ‘E’. We are giving fumes to our family. Take time to fill your cup. You can’t give something that you don’t have … if you’re not a whole woman; you’re not a whole mother. At some point, you have to be self-centered for a minute so that you have more of you to give. Because if you break down, the whole ship is going down.”

When the balance of your life is thrown off, it takes time to set it back on track. You lose unnecessary time and energy, and the older you get, the harder it is to bounce back. So, if you’ve failed to restore yourself with balance, rest and time off before, it’s going to be that much harder to recover once your body has shut down.

Fill Her Up

Most women hate going to the gas station. For various reasons, we don’t want to stop and “fill ‘er up.” However, when your car, your body, your mind, your spirit and your energy are on ‘E,’ you need to refuel so that you can get to your desired destination.

There’s not much that feels better than a good night’s sleep. Doctors have shared that when people aren’t sleeping as well during the night, they aren’t as productive during the day, and they’re not as healthy. Did you know that with proper sleep, your brain can reorganize and restructure, which may result in more creativity? So as you can see, all of that exhausting yourself is actually counterproductive. Get some rest, and then come back and get it done at your maximum capacity.

Let this also serve as a lesson or a reminder: If you have a big decision to make and you’re tired, wait. When your mind is too fuzzy, you may decide something that you’ll regret later. As they say, sleep on it. In the morning, things will look different. R.I.P. is more about a quality and healthy life than it is death.

Deya Directive: Today, give yourself permission to get what you need, especially sleep. Your life is worth living, which is why you need to figure out the things that refresh you and do them as much as possible. Is it a massage, working out regularly, taking a long, hot bath or shower? Whatever it is, go for it to help you relax.

Deya “Direct” Smith, is a producer on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and host of Girlfriend FM & Beyond the Studio celebrity interviews. She is also the author of Touch Yourself, 30 Ways to Live, Love and Let Go (! Deya is a life-style and inspirational speaker.