Getting enough amounts of sleep is vital in ensuring optimal general health and well-being.
However, despite sleep being among the basic daily needs, a large percentage of adults, approximately 60 percent, don’t meet the essential sleep requirements.
Getting enough sleep can help protect your physical, mental, and emotional health, and overall quality of life.
For adults, sufficient sleep helps the body achieve a healthy brain and physical functioning.
On the other hand, good sleep supports growth and development in children and teens; like nutrition and regular physical activity, the cumulative effects of lack of sleep are detrimental.
How Much Sleep is Enough?
Different people have different sleeping requirements, which often change over time. Some factors that affect your sleeping requirements include age, prevailing health conditions, and lifestyle.
When evaluating the sleeping needs of an individual, it is essential to consider where the person falls on the sleep spectrum, alongside other factors that affect the quality and quantity of sleep, such as work.
Although sleeping requirements differ from one person to another, below is a general guide outlining general sleep recommendations for various age groups.
- Infants between 4 and 12 months – 12 to 16 hours per day
- Children between 1 and 2 years – 11 to 14 hours per day
- Children between 3 and 5 years – 10 to 13 hours per day
- Children between 6 and 12 years – 9 to 12 hours per day
- Teens between 13 and 18 years – 8 to 10 hours per day
- Adults from 18 years and older – 7 to 8 hours per day
As mentioned, sleep debt, which is the cumulative loss of sleep, can significantly affect your general health and well-being. Some people take naps as a way of solving sleepiness.
However, naps only provide a short-term boost in performance and alertness. Napping doesn’t provide the much-needed benefits of good nighttime sleep.
Besides napping, some people prefer sleeping more on their days off as a way of solving sleepiness.
However, sleeping more during your days off is a sign that you are getting insufficient sleep.
While the extra sleeping hours can be beneficial and help you feel better, they can upset the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Cumulative bad sleeping habits and accumulated sleep loss affects your health.
Importance of Sleep
As mentioned, sleep is an essential contributor to overall health and well-being. How you will feel and act when awake significantly depends on what happens during sleep. That said, sleep is vital for the following reasons.
However, there are many barriers to getting adequate quality sleep. Some of them are within your control, like bedroom temperature or sleeping on a new mattress, but others like sleeping orders need medical intervention to resolve.
If you have sleep apnea, you likely need a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to sleep at night. Other sleeping disorders may require a person to take medication too.
If you suspect that you have unexplained sleeping problems, it’s best to see your doctor immediately to determine if you have a disorder and get treatment right away to sleep better.
Improves Brain Functioning
You will experience difficulties recalling details or holding on to important information when running low on sleep. This is because sleep has a direct impact on the learning and memory centers of the brain.
Without sufficient sleep, you will find it difficult to focus on activities and consume new information. Sleeping is essential in shaping memories and making connections between experiences, events, and feelings. Related.
As you sleep, the brain prepares for the next day and new information by forming pathways that improve learning and memory. Several studies link sufficient sleep to better learning outcomes.
Be it learning how to play the piano, playing golf, swimming, or mathematics, sleeping enhances learning abilities and problem-solving skills. Sleep also helps in improving attention, making better decisions, and being creative.
Sleep is also essential in stabilizing emotions. Apart from rejuvenating the brain’s learning and memory centers, sleeping gives the brain sufficient time to process emotions.
The mind needs some time to recognize and react to emotions, especially after a long tedious day. When you cut short your sleep, you will experience more negative and unstable emotional reactions.
Chronic sleep insufficiency also increases the chances of mood disorders. So to say, some studies linked insomnia to increased chances of developing depression, anxiety, and panic disorders.
As such, sufficient sleep is equivalent to pressing the reset button on bad days, improving your quality of life, and preparing you to meet new challenges.
High blood pressure is among the significant causative factors of heart disease. Similarly, according to the CDC, getting adequate rest can help in the body’s natural regulation of blood pressure.
Less sleep leads to lengthy periods of blood pressure in a 24-hour cycle. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to serious health conditions, including heart disease and stroke.
Improved Physical Health
Adequate sleep plays a significant role in your overall physical health. The body takes time to rest, repair, recover, and rebuild while you are asleep.
Healing damaged cells, recharging the heart, and improving the immune system, and other parts of the body contribute to improved physical health.
Accumulated sleep deficits result in various health conditions, including kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Insufficient sleep is linked to increased risks of obesity. Sleep is vital in maintaining a healthy hormonal balance, especially ghrelin and leptin, which control the body’s eating cycle.
The ghrelin levels, which promote hunger feel, increase with insufficient sleep as the levels of leptin go down. This will make you hungrier compared to when you are fully rested.
Sleep also affects the body’s response to insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar levels. Sleep deficiency is a recipe for higher than normal sugar levels, which increases the risk of developing diabetes.
That aside, sleep supports healthy body growth and development. Deep sleep stimulates the body to release hormones that promote growth and development. The hormones boost muscle mass development and help repair damaged cells in children, teens, and adults.
Lastly, on boosting your physical health, sleep is an important regulator of the body’s immune system. The immune system is essential in protecting the body against infection-causing microorganisms.
Sleeping can help improve the body’s mechanism in fighting infection. Significant sleep deprivation can alter the body’s immune system, increasing susceptibility to illnesses.
Maximizes Athletic Performance
Sufficient sleep is also strongly associated with improved athletic performance. Sleep loss significantly affects endurance sports such as running, biking, and swimming. This is because it robs you of the energy and time required for muscle growth and repair.
So to say, a case study on basketball players showed that enough sleep improves speed, reaction time, and accuracy on the court. Less sleep also leads to poor exercise performance and general functional limitations.
There is a significant association between adequate sleep and reduced body inflammation. Besides impairing the immune system, sleep deprivation activates unwanted markers of cell damage and inflammation.
Insufficient sleep is strongly linked to chronic digestive system inflammation, which causes inflammatory bowel disease. Sleep-deprived individuals with Crohn’s disease also show twice the risks of relapsing than patients who sleep well.
The Bottom Line
Without a doubt, sleep is an essential component of your overall health and well-being. Getting adequate rest helps in preventing various physical, emotional, and psychological conditions.
As such, you should put various measures to facilitate a good night’s sleep and improve your sleeping habits. Begin by allowing yourself enough time to sleep. You shouldn’t squeeze sleeping time into your schedule but rather make time to sleep.
That said, to improve your sleeping habits, begin by preparing your bedroom for a restful and rejuvenating sleep.
For this, invest in a good mattress and adopt various bedroom tips that improve sleep. You should also keep a regular sleeping schedule, among other measures.
About The Author:
Angela has always been an advocate for friends and family members that helps them stay positive and get more out of their time and money.