Why sleep is important for your health
Saying that "sleep is for the weak" is a misleading statement. Here are a few valid and scientifically proven reasons why sleep is such an essential part of our lives.
Did you know that one-third of Americans are not sleeping well on a regular basis? Getting a good night's sleep is essential for resting the body and mind and healing injuries.
When we're sleeping, we remove waste at a faster rate than while we're awake. In fact, the benefits of sleep are countless.
Sleeping is a way of balancing all functions of our organism and works like a vaccine.
Healthy sleep habits result in the development of stronger and more efficient immunity shields against illnesses and diseases.
Sleep restores the muscular, nervous, skeletal, immune, respiratory, digestive, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems.
It not only improves your mood and makes you feel better, but it also strengthens and consolidates your memory and increases your physical performance.
The adoption of regular quality sleep cycles has a huge impact on the quality of life, with immediate and positive results in attention levels, weight stabilization, and the reduction of depressive states.
So, how much sleep do we need? Ideally, humans should sleep between 14 and seven hours, depending on their age.
The average sleep recommendations are as follows:
- Newborns (0-3 months): 14 to 17 hours
- Infants (4-11 months): 12 to 15 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11 to 14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10 to 13 hours
- School-aged children (6-13 years): 9 to 11 hours
- Teenagers (14-17 years): 8 to 10 hours
- Young adults (18-25 years): 7 to 9 hours
- Adults (26-64 years): 7 to 9 hours
- Older adults (65 years): 7 to 8 hours
Believe it or not, sleep is one of the best ways to stay fit. Good sleepers also tend to have healthier skin and communicate better with others.
An eight-hour sleep will also prevent headaches and will make you more productive.
Sleep will defend you from catching a cold and will hinder the development of breast and colon cancer.
Some people have trouble sleeping or falling asleep. Sooner or later, sleep deprivation issues will result in health problems which may include acute physical injuries, depressions, mental illness, and even hallucinations.
Consequences of Sleep Deprivation
The effects of sleep deprivation are as follows:
- 24 hours: reduced attention levels, impaired memory and hearing, poor decision-making, a decline in eye-hand coordination, and more emotional states;
- 36 hours: high levels of inflammatory markers in the bloodstream, increased risk of cardiovascular complications, emotional instability, loss of motivation;
- 48 hours: occasional microsleeps, disorientation, and loss of focus;
- 72 hours: incapability to maintain a conversation, hallucinations, confusion, fainting;
Sleep deprivation can kill - people who don't sleep enough should have trouble with concentration and thinking.
They will feel abrupt mood changes, poor coordination, increased risk for diabetes and heart diseases, low sexual appetite, high blood pressure, irritability, anxiety, and daytime fatigue.
How to Sleep Better
Artificial light and digital devices have been changing the way we sleep. There are several things that you can do to sleep better.
Here are some key changes you need to do to dramatically improve the quantity and quality of your daily resting session:
- Don't drink water two hours before bedtime;
- Avoid coffee, chocolate, and alcohol before going to bed;
- Remove all digital devices - TVs, smartphones, tablets, digital clocks - from your bedroom and bedside;
- Set the bedroom's temperature to 64 °F (18 °C);
- Use low and warm lights before going to sleep;
- Try to set up a quiet environment;
- Get a comfortable mattress;
- Get a quality pillow;
- Go to bed at roughly the same time every day;
- Ensure a dark bedroom;
- Embrace sleep cycles of 1.5 hours (example: 6, 7.5, and 9 hours of sleep);
- Adopt a correct sleeping posture;
- Exercise your body regularly;
The temperature of the air, the humidity of the environment, the amount of light, and the food and drinks consumed in the hours before bedtime have a significant impact on the quality of your sleep.
But other factors like the stress you're under, sleepwalking, night terrors, insomnia, restless legs syndrome and fitness levels will also interfere with your sleep.
And why are you still tired after sleeping eight consecutive hours?
Bad sleep positions, incorrect pillow sizes, sleep apnea, teeth grinding, and irregular sleep cycles may be the answer to your problem.
The quality of sleep has a profound impact on athletic performance.
A sportsman or sportswoman who maintains a regular sleep schedule will continuously feel energized, rejuvenated, relaxed, alert, happy, and fit.
Whether we're talking about surfing, football, tennis, basketball, Formula 1, or boxing, sleep deprivation will always result in poor performance, reduced motivation, and limited cognitive processes.
That is why teams, physical trainers, and coaches pay increased attention to monitoring the quantity and quality of sleep of their elite athletes.
Sleep efficiency is directly connected to performance patterns and behaviors.