Do you have a good understanding of why good sleep is important in your life? Sleeping well is as critical to your wellbeing as food, water, or shelter. Along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the pillars of you enjoying good health. It is an often-neglected component of our overall health and well-being.
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Sleep has emerged in research and culture as an essential component if you want to enjoy a healthy lifestyle, although many of us don’t always treat it that way. Sleeping well is an essential activity that allows your body and mind to rest and recharge.
A good night’s sleep helps repair your body and mind, helping you to function at your best. When you wake up after sleeping well at night, you should be refreshed and alert.
Sleeping healthily helps your body to stay healthy and avert diseases. You cannot achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleeping pattern.
Unfortunately, today’s modern-day living doesn’t always allow us to embrace the necessity of sleeping as adequately as we should. Yet, it is important that you should make an effort to get enough sleep regularly.
Research has shown that Americans don’t sleep properly as they should. Here are the statistics:
- Most adults in the US are known to function their best when they sleep for 7-9 hours per night.
- Surprisingly, over 40% of Americans are sleeping fewer than 7 hours nightly.
- Another 30% of people in the US are known to have difficulty falling and staying asleep at least a few times every day.
- About 6% experience insomnia almost every night. If you need help to naturally cure insomnia, read this.
- Some people even feel comfortable in their ability to function well without sleep.
- In 2014, over $58 billion was allegedly spent around the world on sleep aids. That’s huge and shows that sleeplessness is a problem for many.
It’s important to understand that your sleeping adequately has more to do with the quality of the rest you achieve when you sleep than the number of hours you slept. A lack of quality sleep at night can make you super cranky the next day.
Over time, missing out on good sleep can mess up more than just your mood the next morning. Chronic lack of sleep can also increase your chances of having a mood disorder.
Here are 10 reasons why good sleep is important:
Sleeping well affects concentration and productivity
Sleeping adequately is vital for various aspects of your brain function including cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance. These functions will be negatively affected if you don’t get adequate sleep.
If you’re not sleeping as well as you’re supposed to, your brain function may become impaired. It can negatively affect some aspects of your brain function to a similar degree as if you’re suffering from alcohol intoxication.
Sleeping adequately will help improve your problem-solving skills as well as enhance your memory performance.
Good sleep enhances immune function
To help your body to ward off illnesses, your immune system identifies harmful bacteria and viruses in your body and destroys them. Studies have shown that sleeping well is important in enhancing your immune function.
If you’re sleeping without getting enough of it, this will likely change the way your immune cells work. Your cells may not be able to attack foreign bacteria as quickly as they should, and you could get sick more often.
Sleeping for at least 8 hours every day will help to improve your immune function and even help you to fight the common cold. Not sleeping enough can impair your immune function.
Sleeping well maximizes athletic performance
Longer sleep will improve many aspects of your athletic and physical performance. Studies have shown that if you get good quality sleep, it will enhance your athletic performance.
In one study, some basketball players who experienced longer sleeping time were shown to have significantly improved accuracy, speed, reaction times, and mental well-being than those who didn’t.
Besides robbing you of energy and time for muscle repair, not sleeping well will sap your motivation. Remember, motivation is what gets you to the finish line you need for successful accomplishments.
If you’re not sleeping well, you’re likely to face harder mental and physical challenges and experience slower reaction times. Getting proper rest and sleeping right will set you up for your best performance.
Good sleepers are likely to eat fewer calories
Not sleeping enough is likely to affect the hormones that regulate your appetite. When you’re well-rested, you will be less hungry.
If you’re not sleeping as well as you should, this will likely mess with the hormones in your brain (leptin and ghrelin) that control your appetite. With those hormones out of balance, your resistance to the temptation of unhealthy foods diminishes.
If you get adequate sleep, you’ll tend to eat fewer calories than if you didn’t. Sleep deprivation that causes daily fluctuations in your appetite hormones can cause poor appetite regulation.
Poor sleep patterns can lead to increased body weight
If you’re sleeping for a shorter duration than you should, you have a strong risk of being obese. Not sleeping well may increase your risk of weight gain and obesity.
Studies have shown that if you’re used to short sleeping durations, you’re likely to weigh significantly more than if you get adequate sleep.
Children and adults who don’t get enough sleep were also shown to be 89% and 55% more likely to develop obesity, respectively.
If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s absolutely crucial that you develop a sleeping pattern that facilitates quality sleep every day.
Lack of sleep can lead to increased inflammation
Your sleep pattern can affect your body’s inflammatory responses. Not sleeping enough will activate undesirable markers of inflammation and cell damage in your body and may lead to diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD).
If you continue to sleep poorly, your IBD may recur after you’ve already been cured of it.
Not sleeping well can lead to depression
If you don’t sleep well, over time you may end up with mental health issues, especially depression. An estimated 90% of people with depression would complain about having problems with the quality of sleep they get every day.
Studies have also shown that not sleeping well for a prolonged period may increase your risk of death by suicide.
Sleeping less can lead to Type 2 Diabetes
If you’re repeatedly sleeping for less than 6 hours per night, you are likely putting yourself at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Poor sleeping patterns can adversely affect the blood sugar levels in your body.
Not sleeping well for as little as 6 consecutive days can make you predisposed to prediabetes. Many studies have shown that there’s a strong link between having a short sleep duration and developing type 2 diabetes.
Not sleeping enough can put you at risk for heart disease and stroke
The quality and duration of your sleep can have a major effect on many health risk factors. If you’re sleeping less than 7–8 hours per night, you’re likely to be at an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Studies have shown that if you don’t get enough sleep, you’re at a far greater risk of heart disease or stroke than you would if you slept for 7–8 hours per night.
Quality sleeping patterns and emotions
Sleep affects your emotions and your ability to interact socially. If you haven’t been sleeping well over a long period of time, you’re likely to lose your ability to interact with other people.
Sleep deprivation may adversely affect your social skills and your ability to recognize other people’s emotional expressions. For instance, your ability to recognize expressions of anger and happiness will be reduced.
You may not be able to have problems recognize important social cues or process emotional information needed for socialization if you’re not sleeping well.
Recommendations for good sleep
As well as the number of hours you sleep each day, the quality is also important. Generally, sleeping needs vary from person to person, depending on your age.
As you age, you’ll typically require less sleep to function properly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a breakdown of sleep needs is as follows:
- Newborns (0–3 months): 14–17 hours
- Infants (4–12 months): 12–16 hours
- Toddler (1–2 years): 11–14 hours
- Preschool (3–5 years): 10–13 hours
- School-age (6–12 years): 9–12 hours
- Teen (13–18 years): 8–10 hours
- Adult (18–60 years): 7+ hours
- Adult (61–64 years): 7–9 hours
- Adult (65+ years): 7–8 hours
So, are you sleeping enough?
Ensure your sleep is restful
How do you ensure that you’re sleeping restfully?
- Stick to a routine schedule by going to bed and waking up about the same time each day.
- When you go to bed, keep your room cool, quiet, and dark.
- You may benefit from listening to soothing sleep music to help you fall asleep quickly and stay asleep.
Before you go to sleep, listen to some calming sleep music on YouTube to enhance your nightly sleeping pattern and the overall quality of your sleep.
- Exercise regularly and engage in cardio exercises. If you’re stuck at home like I am and you can’t get to the gym, try an online personal trainer/fitness coach.
Signs you’re not sleeping as well as you should
How do you tell that you’re not sleeping as well as you should? What signs does your body use to tell you you’re not getting enough shut-eye?
Here they are!
- You’re frequently waking up in the middle of the night
- You do not feel rested even after an adequate number of hours of being asleep
- Crummy mornings – if you’re not sleeping well, you’re likely to wake up with a headache, sore throat, or dry mouth.
- Tired eyes – your eyes may get red and puffy with dark circles and bags if you’re not sleeping adequately. You may also get more lines, wrinkles, swelling, and droopiness.
- Moodiness – lack of sleep will make you irritable and moody. Sleeping for only 4 ½ hours a night for a week will definitely cause you more stress, anger, and mental exhaustion. You’ll notice that when your sleeping pattern restores back to your normal schedule, you’ll feel better again.
- Depression – if you haven’t slept for a prolonged period of time, you’re likely to suffer from depression. This situation may even become cyclic – a poor sleeping pattern can lead to depression, and depression can lead to a poor sleeping pattern.
- Acne breakout – if you’re not getting good sleep, your skin may soon begin to show it. Your skin may develop acne breakouts because your sleeping pattern helps to control hormones in your body. Sleep deprivation hurts your immune system, leaving your body open to many different health issues.
- Craving junk food – after a sleepless night, you’re likely to tend to crave junk food. A sleep-deprived brain is more likely to crave unhealthy snacks and meals.
- Craving more coffee or soda – if you’re not sleeping well, your brain is likely to crave more coffee or soda than usual. Caffeine may seem like an answer to you for not getting proper sleep, but it can quickly become part of your problem. In the short term, the coffee or soda you crave may make you more alert, but in the long term, it can lead you to insomnia or anxiety.
- Weight gain – if you’re not sleeping properly as you should, your body won’t be able to properly control the hormones that affect how hungry you feel. The hormones are ghrelin and leptin. Without proper control of these hormones, you’re likely to feel the urge to eat more than you need to. This will make you gain weight.
How to improve the quality of your sleep
- Avoid sleeping in when you’ve had enough sleep.
- Go to bed around the same time each night.
- You should spend more time outside and be more active during the day. You’re likely to become tired and exhausted by bedtime.
- Reduce stress through exercise, therapy, or other means. Do you like massages? They’re great and will help you to relax and feel awesome. Try Massage Therapy for Complete Body Relaxation and Fitness.
- Listening to relaxing music just before you go to bed can help with stress and anxiety relief and enhance your sleeping pattern.
How much sleep is too much?
The need for sleep varies, but on average, regularly sleeping more than 9 hours a night may do you more harm than good. Research has shown that sleeping longer than 9 hours a night may cause more calcium buildup in your heart arteries and less flexible leg arteries. Your best bet is to shoot for 7-8 sleeping hours every day for optimal health benefits.