The Importance of Enough Sleep
authored by Beth Jenkins
"The way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep."
~ Arianna Huffington, Co-founder of the Huffington Post
How Important is Adequate Sleep?
To put it simply, very important. Sleep is needed to rejuvenate everything in your body. Sleep is needed for both your body and mind to work correctly and optimally; and a lack thereof can cause serious injury and a myriad of health problems. According to the American Sleep Association, a lack of sleep can affect your brain, heart, weight, immune system, and even your life span.
When it comes to health, sleep is as vital as regular exercise and eating a balanced diet.
Today, people are praised for their hard work and their ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’ mentality. But it’s important to make the effort to get enough sleep. The following are the reasons that we should be trying our best to get an adequate amount of sleep:
Greater Social and Emotional Intelligence
Those who do not get enough sleep are more likely to have issues with recognizing other people’s expressions and emotions. A study in the Journal of Sleep Research looked at people’s responses to emotional stimuli. It was concluded, similarly to other earlier studies, that someone’s emotional empathy is less compared to when they get adequate sleep. Additionally, The Mental Health Foundation found those with a lack of sleep are four times more likely to have relationship issues.
Stronger Immune System
Something that people are especially worried about right now is not getting sick. When you sleep your body repairs itself and helps you recover. According to Mayo Clinic, when you sleep your immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Therefore sleep can ensure that your body is producing the right amount of these protective cytokines.
Helps prevent Depression
The association between sleep and mental health has been the subject of research for a long time. There is a definite link between lack of sleep and depression. In fact, a common sign of depression is insomnia. That is not to say insomnia or other sleep problems are only caused by depression.
Poor sleep can lead to fatigue. This can lead to exercising less which leads to a decline in your fitness level. This can result in a vicious cycle of disturbed sleep and inactivity, causing both physical and mood-related symptoms.
Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease. According to the CDC, getting enough sleep every night can help the body’s blood pressure to regulate itself. This also helps in preventing sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, which further reduces the risk of heart disease and promotes overall heart health.
Better Weight Regulation
Although weight gain and sleep deprivation have not been linked directly, a lack of sleep does lead to poorer calorie regulation and poorer athletic performance, which can be linked to weight gain. A study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America states that sleep patterns affect the hormones responsible for appetite. Furthermore, the National Sleep Foundation has conducted studies that link sufficient sleep to athletic performance which contributes to living a healthy lifestyle.
Higher Levels of Productivity and Concentration
The first signs you may be aware of when getting less than 6 hours of sleep is you feel tired, forgetful, irritable, and just not on the top of your game. Researchers from studies done since 2000, concluded that sleep is linked to various brain functions, including concentration, productivity, and cognition.
How Much is Enough Sleep?
Sleep needs vary based on the age group.
According to the CDC:
Sleep Chart by Age
|Age Group||Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day|
|Newborn||0–3 months||14–17 hours (National Sleep Foundation)|
|Infant||4–12 months||12–16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)|
|Toddler||1–2 years||11–14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)|
|Preschool||3–5 years||10–13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)|
|School Age||6–12 years||9–12 hours per 24 hours|
|Teen||13–18 years||8–10 hours per 24 hours|
|Adult||18–60 years||7 or more hours per night|
|61–64 years||7–9 hours|
|65 years and older||7–8 hours|
Wondering how to sleep better? Find out 5 simple steps in a 2-minute read HERE.