Benefits of Sleep
The benefits of sleep impact nearly every area of daily life. While it may be obvious that sleep is beneficial, most people don’t realize how much sleep they need and why it is so important.
According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, your body manages and requires sleep in much the same way that it regulates the need for eating, drinking, and breathing.
Extensive research has been done on the effects of sleep. These studies consistently show that sleep plays a vital role in promoting physical health, longevity, and emotional well-being.
This explains why, after a good night’s sleep, you feel better, your thoughts are clearer, and your emotions are less fragile. Without adequate sleep, judgment, mood, and ability to learn and retain information are weakened.
HOW MUCH SLEEP DO YOU NEED?
Over time, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to an array of serious medical conditions including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even early mortality.
While sleep requirements vary by individual, the National Sleep Foundation’s recommends the following sleep requirements, based on age categories, which account for physiological changes that occur as people age.
Sleep Requirements by Age
Newborns (0-3 months old) 14-17 hours
Infants (4-11 months old) 12-15 Hours
Toddlers (1-2 years old)l 11-14 Hours
Pre-schoolers (3-5 years old) 10-13 Hours
School-aged Children (6-13 years old) 9-11 Hours
Teens (14-17 years old) 8-10 Hours
Young Adults (18-25) 7-9 Hours
Adults (26-64) 7-9 Hours
Older Adults (65+) 7-8 Hours
Studies show that people who get the appropriate amount of sleep on a regular basis tend to live longer, healthier lives than those who sleep too few or even too many hours each night. This underscores the importance of making sleep a top priority.
BENEFITS OF SLEEP
Following are some of the benefits of sleep and how it improves the quality and the length of your life.
Sleep helps to repair your body.
Your body produces extra protein molecules while you’re sleeping that helps strengthen your ability to fight infection and stay healthy.
These molecules help your immune system mend your body at a cellular level when you are stressed or have been exposed to compromising elements such as pollutants and infectious bacteria.
Sleep helps keep your heart healthy.
Your cardiovascular system is constantly under pressure and sleep helps to reduce the levels of stress and inflammation in your body. High levels of “inflammatory markers” are linked to heart disease and strokes. Sleep can also help keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels (which play a role in heart disease) in check.
Sleep reduces stress.
A good night’s sleep can help lower blood pressure and elevated levels of stress hormones, which are a natural result of today’s fast paced lifestyle.
High blood pressure can be life threatening and the physical effects of stress can produce “‘wear and tear” on your body and degenerate cells, which propel the aging process. Sleep helps to slow these effects and encourages a state of relaxation.
Sleep improves your memory.
That ‘foggy’ feeling that you struggle with when deprived of sleep makes it difficult to concentrate. This often leads to memory problems with facts, faces, lessons, or even conversations. Sleeping well eliminates these difficulties because, as you sleep, your brain is busy organizing and correlating memories.
One of the great benefits of sleep is that it allows your brain to better process new experiences and knowledge, increasing your understanding and retention. So, next time you hear someone say “why don’t you sleep on it,” take their advice.
Sleep helps control body weight issues.
Sleep helps regulate the hormones that affect and control your appetite. Studies have shown that when your body is deprived of sleep, the normal hormone balances are interrupted and your appetite increases.
Unfortunately this increase in appetite doesn’t lead to a craving for fruits and veggies. Rather, your body longs for foods high in calories, fats, and carbohydrates.
So, if you’re trying to lose those stubborn few pounds that just keep hanging around, consider the benefits of sleep on weight control and make sure that getting enough sleep each day. For more information on sleep and body weight, click here.
Sleep reduces your chances of diabetes
Researchers have shown that lack of sleep may lead to type 2 diabetes by affecting how your body processes glucose, which is the carbohydrate your cells use for fuel.
The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School reports that a study showed a healthy group of people who had reduced their sleep from eight to four hours per night processed glucose more slowly.
Other research initiatives have revealed that adults who usually sleep less than five hours per night have a greatly increased risk of developing diabetes.
Sleep reduces the occurrence of mood disorders.
With insufficient sleep during the night, many people become agitated or moody the following day. Yet, when limited sleep becomes a chronic issue, studies have shown it can lead to long-term mood disorders such as depression or anxiety.
The benefits of sleep are extensive and can make a difference in your quality of life, as well as the length of your life. Therefore, it is vital to place a priority on getting ample, consistent sleep.