What’s the Importance of Sleep
Fall is upon us. The weather this week has been simply outstanding. Right in the low 70’s during the day with lots of sunshine. Maybe a few clouds lazily drifting across the sky. In the morning it’s been cool and crisp. Just enough nip in the air to make you know the season is changing. I absolutely love it. When this time of year rolls around it also seems to mess with my sleep to some extent. I sleep deeper for sure. This week for some reason I was still tired when I got up despite getting 8 hours. Which leads us to today’s post, what’s the importance of sleep.
What’s the Importance of Sleep
The importance of sleep to your health is well documented. Getting enough sleep is right up there in importance with your diet and exercise. It is a critical part of your overall health. When you get enough sleep it helps improve your concentration and productivity. Getting enough sleep helps maximize athletic performance and physically function at your highest level. While what I’m about to say is fairly intuitive it certainly bears repeating. Your immune system benefits greatly from getting plenty of rest. When you are dragging butt due to being sick with a cold or flu a good nights sleep or two really seems to help speed your recovery along.
Getting enough sleep also affects you emotionally. We can probably all relate to being crabby after a night of bad sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis this becomes an everyday thing. Being tired all the time from not getting enough sleep will affect your mood on an ongoing basis.
How Much Sleep Should You Get
When looking at what’s the importance of sleep we should definitely address how much sleep should you get. Like most things in life we can answer this with a great big old “it depends”. Some of things that affect how much sleep you need is due to how old you are, how healthy you are, what else is going on with your life, and on and on. There are many things that affect how much sleep you should get. From an age standpoint here’s about how much sleep you should get.
Newborns (under 1 year old) – 14 – 17 hours of sleep
Toddlers (1-2 years old) – 11 – 14 hours of sleep
Preschoolers (3 – 5 years old) – 10 – 13 hours of sleep
School age (6 – 13 years old) – 9 – 11 hours of sleep
Teens (14 – 17 years old) – 8 – 10 hours of sleep
Young adults (18 – 25 years old) – 7 – 9 hours of sleep
Adults (26 – 64 years old) – 7 – 9 hours of sleep
Older adults (65 + ) 7 – 8 hours of sleep
What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep
Not getting enough sleep can lead to a whole gaggle of health issues. This is why we are discussing what’s the importance of sleep! Let’s take a look at some of the things that happen to your body and mind when you don’t get enough sleep.
You don’t think as well – Mentioned above is how getting enough sleep is critical for clear thinking. If you don’t get enough sleep you are putting you brain at a disadvantage. Continually skimping on your sleep affects your ability to think clearly.
You might gain weight – There have been several studies that people who get close to 5 hours of sleep a night have a tendency to gain weight. People who got in the 7-8 hour range tended not to gain the same amount of weight as those in the 5 hour range.
Your risk of diabetes increases – So if you gain weight from lack of sleep your waistline expands. Of course being overweight increases your changes of adult onset diabetes. Research has shown that getting less than the 7-8 hours of sleep for longer periods can increase the likelihood of adult onset diabetes.
Other Side Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep
Decreased libido – Seriously?? What a bummer! In one study younger men who had reduced sleep over a one week period showed decreased testosterone levels. Sleeping 5 or fewer hours a night led to a reduction in sex hormones by 10 – 15 percent. Boo!
You look worse – I’m sure this isn’t news to you. I know when I have more than 1 night with less sleep it shows up on my face. Especially around my eyes. Too little sleep on an ongoing basis can lead to increased wrinkles, uneven skin coloration, and even looseness of skin. Who wants that?
You heart won’t like it – Sleeping fewer than 6 hours of sleep a night on an ongoing basis can be bad for your heart. It might increase the risk of high blood pressure and might worsen it if you already have it.
See what I mean? There are other side effects of not getting enough sleep as well. This list should be enough to make you realize what’s the importance of sleep.
How to Get More Sleep
Now that you realize what’s the importance of sleep is the next question is most likely “how do I get more sleep”. Take a look at some if the items on this list to see if you can get more sleep in your routine.
- Enjoy being in your bedroom – Wherever you sleep should be a place of comfort. This will help you relax quicker when it’s snooze time.
- Stick to a schedule – Even though we really want to sleep in on the weekends we shouldn’t too much. It’s okay to grab an hour extra but try to avoid sleeping until 10AM or whatever is late for you. This messes with your schedule and ultimately your sleep.
- Cut off screen time – It’s hard to fall asleep when your mind is whirling. A good idea is to put your phone away before you get into bed. Looking at the screen until you turn out the light isn’t helping you relax. My favorite – read a book for 20 minutes in bed. Always relaxes me.
- Be wary of naps – Naps are awesome. When my girls were babies I loved taking naps with them. Problem with napping too much or too long is that it can definitely affect your night time sleeping. Keep naps in check.
- Keep a routine – similar to the schedule having a nighttime ritual or routine can definitely help you sleep better. Whether it’s reading a book in bed for 20 minutes or trading back scratches with your partner, a routine definitely helps your sleep.
More Ways to Get More sleep
Here’s a few more ways to get more snooze time, especially since we now know what’s the importance of sleep.
- Exercise – You had to know I was going to mention this one. Getting regular exercise tires your body out which in turn helps your fall asleep faster and sleep deeper.
- Watch your diet – Stay away from caffeine in the afternoons and evenings. Also, if you have certain foods that upset your stomach or prevent you from getting quality sleep, watch your intake on those.
- Skip the nightcap – Many of us thinking having some drinks makes us more tired and sleep better. The reality is you sleep less well when you’ve been drinking. Watch your alcohol intake for better sleep.
- Keep it cool – Several studies have suggested that many of us tend to sleep better when our bedrooms are cooler. Certainly better than when you wake up sweating!
- Listen to noise – White noise that is. Many people, yours truly included, sleep better with some white noise in the bedroom. I’ve slept with a fan in my room for as long as I can remember.
Now we’ve got a pretty good idea on what’s the importance of sleep. Below are some resources that could offer some help increase your quality and quantity of sleep.
Marpac Dohm Classic White Noise Sound Machine, Black – A great white noise machine. And it looks cool.
High Fidelity Sleep Sound Machine with Real, Non-looping Nature Sounds – A great partner to help you sleep better.
Perfect Fit – Gusseted Quilted Pillow, Hypoallergenic – I have a friend who swears by these
Lasko 3300 20″ Wind Machine 3 Speed Cooling – A great fan that makes just the right amount of noise.
Vitafusion Melatonin Gummies – Nice to have in case you need an extra kick to get to sleep…..naturally.
I think we’ve done a pretty good job looking at what’s the importance of sleep. Providing your body with the right amount of ongoing, quality sleep will do great things for your body and mind. Quality sleep helps you operate at top mental and physical capacity.
Let’s get our sleep on!