There are many things that we should do every day to stay in good health: exercise, eat well, drink water – the list goes on. But for some reason, sleeping isn’t high on the list. It should be. According to experts, quality sleep is vital to our physical and mental health. And being sleep deprived can have lasting effects, so it’s time to make sleep a priority. To inspire you, here are four key reasons why your body and mind need sleep:
Reason 1: Helps brain function
When we get a good night’s sleep, we are more alert and clear-headed. Things like learning, problem-solving and decision making are easier. But when we lose sleep, our brain’s performance suffers. We are “foggy” and slow to react. Chronic sleep loss can impair our judgment, leading to serious accidents. In fact, being tired is one of the leading causes of fatal car crashes.
Reason 2: Keeps emotions in check
When we’re fully rested, we’re better able to control our emotions and behavior. For example, without adequate sleep, adults may experience mood swings and children may have tantrums or trouble getting along with others. Sleep deficiency is also linked to depression, suicide and risky behavior.
Reason 3: Reduces disease risk
People with ongoing sleep deprivation also have an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. In addition, lack of sleep also affects our immune system. Individuals who are sleep deficient may have a harder time fighting common viruses, like a cold or the flu.
Reason 4: Keeps weight under control
Sleep deprivation affects our body’s ability to regulate appetite hormones, so those who have poor sleeping habits tend to have bigger appetites and eat more than those who are not sleep deprived. In fact, a study revealed that adults who are sleep deprived were 55% more likely to become obese. If you’re trying to lose weight, getting a good night’s rest is critical.
How much sleep is enough?
The right amount of sleep varies for each individual and it depends on age. The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following ranges:
- Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
- Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
- School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
- Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
- Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
- Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours
If you’re having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, there might be an underlying cause. Schedule an appointment with your health care provider today. ACCESS has locations near you and our team of health care professionals is ready to help you learn more.
National Sleep Foundation
Harvard Medical School