Most of us think of sleep as the last thing on our to-do list, but here is why it should make its way to the top of the list.
Sleep is a vital indicator of overall health and well-being. We spend up to one-third of our lives asleep, and the overall state of our “sleep health” remains an essential question throughout our lifespan.
How much sleep do we need? The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults 18 to 64 years old get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. That sounds like a lot, and it is! Most adults get less than 7 hours of sleep on an average night. So why go through the trouble of changing your schedule? Here is a list of some sleep benefits that might convince you:
- Better Health– study after study has found a link between insufficient sleep and some serious health problems, such as heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes, and obesity.
- Less Pain– If you have chronic pain — or acute pain from a recent injury — getting enough sleep may actually make you hurt less. Many studies have shown a link between sleep loss and lower pain threshold.
- Better Mood– You have probably noticed that when you’re exhausted, you’re more likely to be cranky. That’s not all, not getting enough sleep affects your emotional regulation, when you’re overtired, you’re more likely to snap at your kids, or burst into tears, or start laughing uncontrollably.
- Better Weight Control– Getting enough sleep could help you maintain your weight — and conversely, sleep loss goes along with an increased risk of weight gain. Why? When you’re tired your body will crave that sugary starchy ‘pick me up’, so you’ll be reaching for that doughnut that much faster.
- Better Memory– Feeling forgetful? Sleep loss could be to blame. Studies have shown that while we sleep, our brains process and consolidate our memories from the day. If you don’t get enough sleep, it seems like those memories might not get stored correctly — and can be lost.
- Stronger Immunity– Could getting enough sleep prevent the common cold? Some studies show that yes! When you are well rested your body is stronger and can fight germs better.
- Clearer Thinking– Have you ever woken up after a bad night’s sleep, feeling fuzzy and easily confused, like your brain can’t get out of first gear? Sleep loss affects how you think, it impairs your cognition, your attention, and your decision-making.
- Insufficient sleep on the other hand, raises the risk of numerous diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, even depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some studies even show a connection between insufficient sleep and Alzheimer’s.
So go ahead, close the light and catch some zzzz’s