Most people will tell you that in order to get healthier, you have to eat better and exercise, but the truth is that making sure you are getting enough sleep is one of the most vital things you can do to improve your health. Not only is the amount of sleep important, but the quality of sleep as well. Many factors can have an effect on how much quality sleep your are getting. It is important to understand why sleep is important and what you can do in order to get enough.
First, how much sleep is required for our bodies to function optimally? According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the hours of sleep necessary varies based on age. As you get older, you need less sleep. Children ages 6-12, normally need an average of 9-12 hours, while adults need an average of 7-8 hours per night. Without enough hours of sleep, it has been shown that once physical and mental well-being can be severely affected. Making sure we get enough quality sleep is essential for our health and well being. You may not be aware of how much lack of sleep affects your health. Below are reasons how sleep can highly affect our health:
- Poor sleep is linked to higher body weight. Short sleep duration is linked to an increased risk of weight gain and obesity in both adults and children. This could be explained by the fact that your level of cortisol is higher and therefore your body holds on to body fat thinking it’s in stress mode. Also, poor sleep affects hormones that regulate appetite. Those who get adequate sleep tend to eat fewer calories than those who don’t.
- Sleep affects glucose metabolism and can even cause pre-diabetes in healthy adults.
- Getting enough sleep can also have a positive effect on concentration and productivity, allowing for enhanced problem solving skills and better memory.
- For those who are active or athletic, it is important to point out that good sleep can maximize athletic performance as well. Our bodies tend to regenerate better as well allowing for less physical injury.
- In addition, people who sleep less than 7-8 hrs per night tend to be at an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Sleep depravation has also been linked to depression.
- Getting 7-8 hours of sleep had a positive effect on your immunity. Studies have shown that those people that sleep less than 7 hours of sleep are 3x more likely to get colds.
- Sleep is linked to our body’s inflammatory response. Not getting enough sleep can increase your chance of getting inflammatory disease and its recurrence.
- Finally, sleep affects your ability to socially interact and even ones ability to recognize people’s emotional expressions.
So, although sleep seems overrated, it is in fact necessary to our body’s health. All the above reasons are proof that we must prioritize sleep in our lives if we want to live a happy healthy life. So how can you make sure you get and improve your quality of sleep? For starters, try limiting electronics drinking alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes before bedtime. Adding exercise to your daily routine earlier in the day and sleeping in a cool environment has been shown to improve sleep as well. Keeping a regular sleep schedule and adding meditation can also be great ways to improve sleep. And , of course, good nutrition is key! Eating well and making sure to get a balanced whole food diet will help you sleep better! One cannot live optimally without adequate sleep. So next time you decide to stay up watching tv or you think about indulging late at night, consider your health, your weight and your mood. They all go hand in hand and that one decision, can be pivotal to how your day goes.