Why is sleep so important and how much sleep do you need? Sleep affects all aspects of your life from your mental health, brain, heart, vitality, immune system, creativity, productivity, and even your weight. Yes, that is right lack of sleep can be the culprit of your weight gain. Have you noticed how you function the day after you have only had a few hours of sleep? How about after a few nights of not sleeping enough?
Sleep not only allows you to rest but it also is a time when your brain is overseeing biological maintenance ensuring that your body runs in tip-top shape. Your body needs enough restorative hours of sleep to perform at its optimal level.
Myths About Sleep
Myth – Sleeping just one hour less will not affect how you function the next day
Fact – You might not feel very tired but losing just one hour of sleep can affect how clearly you think and your response time. Your cardiovascular health is compromised energy, and your ability to fight infections.
Myth – Your body has no problem adjusting to different time schedules
Fact – Most people can adjust their biological clocks but this is by some type of time cue and this is by only one or two hours a day. When traveling across time zones or switching to night shift work, it takes over a week for the body to adjust.
Myth – Getting extra sleep at night can help cure excessive sleepiness during the day
Fact – The amount of sleep you get is important BUT… the quality of sleep is far more important. Some people may sleep 8 or 9 hours of sleep a night but never quite feel well-rested. This is because their quality of sleep is poor.
Myth – You can make up lost sleep by sleeping more on the weekend
Fact – This will help relieve some of your sleep debt it will not completely help with your lack of sleep. Sleeping later on the weekend will also have a negative effect on your sleep-wake cycle.
How much sleep do you need depends on the individual. The recommended sleep varies slightly from person to person but on average a healthy adult should get around 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Children and teens need even more sleep. Children three to five years need approximately 11 to 13 hours of sleep. 6 to 13 needs 9 to 11 hours and 14 to 17 needs around 8 to 10 hours of sleep.
How To Know If You Are Getting Enough Sleep?
The best way if you are getting the proper amount of sleep is seeing how you feel the next day, how you are functioning. If you feel energetic and alert all day long then you are getting enough quality sleep.
Is Deep Sleep and REM Important?
The quality of your sleep is just as important as the number of hours you spend sleeping if not even more important. if you find yourself having difficulty waking up in the morning, having a lack of energy through the day, and not alert you may not be spending enough time in the various sleep stages.
The deep sleep stage is when the body builds up energy and repairs itself and the REM (rapid eye movement) stage is important for sleep because during this time areas of the brain are stimulated which is essential for learning, retaining, and making new memories. During this phase, the brain carries out neural connections which are key to overall well-being and good health.
Signs of Sleep Deprivation
Chances are you are suffering from sleep deprivation if you have not been getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night. You might not be aware of how much your lack of sleep is affecting your everyday life. Many signs of sleep deprivation are subtle so you likely wouldn’t assume you were not getting enough sleep. A few signs that you might be sleep deprived:
Rely on an alarm clock to wake up. Do not wake up without one.
Use the snooze button
Find it difficult to get out of bed
Feel sluggish and sleepy during the day
Need a nap during the day
Fall asleep while watching tv
Fall asleep within minutes of going to bed
Need to sleep in on the weekend
How Does Sleep Deprivation Affect You?
Not getting enough sleep has many negative effects that go beyond simply you needing a nap during the day. Lack of sleep can result in poor coordination and reaction times, as well as judgment. Someone who is sleep-deprived might be mistaken for a person who is drunk. Sleep deprivation effects include:
- Lack of motivation
- Irritable, moody
- Decreased sex drive
- Trouble in solving problems
- Unable to handle stress
- Premature aging
- Immune system weakened
- Impaired motor skills
- Increased risk of developing diabetes, stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, and certain cancers
Sleep and Weight
Ever notice when you have a lack of sleep that you seem to crave sugary foods? Lack of sleep has a direct relationship to weight gain and overeating. Two hormones in the body are responsible for regulating feeling full and hungry. Leptin sends a signal to your brain when you are full and ghrelin signals the brain when you are hungry. When your body does not get the recommended sleep, ghrelin levels rise, resulting in an increase in appetite.
How To Get The Recommended Sleep
If your suffering from insomnia or some other sleep disorder try some of these helpful sleep tips
- Be sure to get enough exercise – Try to get around 30 minutes of exercise each day but not too close to bedtime. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugary foods, and heavy meals too close to bedtime. These foods can disrupt your sleep.
- Manage your stress – Learning how to deal with stress can help you to sleep more peacefully at night
- Sleep on a schedule – Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day supports your biological clock
- Rule out any possible medical issues – A physical or mental health issue could be the reason for any sleep disturbance you have
- Have a relaxing routine – Avoid any screens such as your phone, tablet, the computer before bed. Instead of working on your computer or watching something on your tablet, opt for a relaxing warm bath or read by a dim light
- Adjust your sleep environment – Your bedroom should be cool, dark, and quiet and should also only be used for sex and sleep.
How much sleep do you get on average a night? if you have not got enough do you notice a difference in how you function the following day? Comment below, I want to hear from you.
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