When prioritizing responsibilities like work, school, errands and other commitments, it can be easy to put some important things on the backburner. Still, we should always make time for sleep. A lack of sleep has been linked to many health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and kidney disease.
How much sleep do I need?
While everyone’s body system functions differently, the National Sleep Foundation recommends the following sleep durations by age group:
- Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours each day
- 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
Lack of sleep weakens your immune system
Quality sleep is vital for your defense system, and experts from the Mayo Clinic say a lack of rest can make you more likely to become sick from virus exposure, including the common cold. Insufficient sleep may also impact your recovery speed if you do fall ill. When you sleep, your immune system releases cytokine proteins, which help protect against inflammation and infection.
Sleep deprivation can impact decision making and anxiety
Not being well-rested can be extremely dangerous, especially when operating a vehicle. A study in the journal SLEEP found a lack of sleep lowers split-second decision making and leads to decreased accuracy in motor skills. Deprivation can also affect daily performance in work, mood and can increase anxiety if you’re regularly concerned about falling sleep, not being able to go back to sleep in the middle of the night, or if you’ll have enough sleep to function the next day.
Inadequate sleep can decrease pain tolerance
Studies have shown a link between how much you sleep and your pain tolerance. For injuries like sprains, sleep can help raise pain tolerance and improve healing. Research has also found a link between back pain and sleeplessness. A study in the Journal of Sleep Medicine found 53% of people with chronic back pain also suffered from insomnia.
Lack of sleep can lead to poor diet choices
Not getting enough sleep can directly lead to weight gain, and a poor night of sleep can even influence you to eat more fats and calories the next day. A UPenn School of Medicine study found sleep deprivation raised fat cravings, which can lead towards a weakened immune system and greater risk of type-2 diabetes.
Access Community Health Network (ACCESS)
If you are having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, make an appointment with ACCESS. Talking to a doctor about your sleep issues as a health concern can help you get the rest you need.