How Did You Sleep Last Night?
How Did You Sleep Last Night?
How did you sleep well last night? If not that well, you’re in good company. About a third of American adults don’t get the recommended seven hours of sleep per night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many people don’t get enough sleep or sleep poorly because of their jobs or hectic schedules — they work long shifts at night or have to rush to get their kids ready to catch a 6 a.m. school bus. Some 50 million to 70 million Americans have a chronic sleep disorder such as insomnia or sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout the night.
Why is Sleep Important?
There were several studies that scientists did in the early 2000s that looked at the effects of sleep deprivation.
What the researchers concluded is that sleep has links to several brain functions, including:
Lower weight gain risk
The link between weight gain and obesity and short sleep patterns is not completely clear.
There have been several studies throughout the years that have linked obesity and poor sleep patterns.
However, a more recent study in the journal Sleep Medicine concludes that there is no link between being overweight and sleep deprivation.
This research argues that many previous studies fail to account adequately for other factors, such as:
living with type 2 diabetes
level of physical activity
long working hours
long sedentary time
A lack of sleep may affect a person's desire or ability to maintain a healthful lifestyle, but it may or may not be a direct contributor to weight gain.
Greater athletic performance
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adequate sleep for adults is between 7 and 9 hours a night, and athletes may benefit from as many as 10 hours. Accordingly, sleep is as important to athletes as consuming enough calories and nutrients.
One of the reasons for this requirement is that the body heals during sleep. Other benefits include:
better performance intensity
better mental functioning
Lower risk of heart disease
One risk factor for heart disease is high blood pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting adequate rest each night allows the body's blood pressure to regulate itself.
Doing so can reduce the chances of sleep-related conditions such as apnea and promote better overall heart health.
More social and emotional intelligence
Sleep has links to people's emotional and social intelligence. Someone who does not get adequate sleep is more likely to have issues with recognizing other people's emotions and expressions.
For example, one study in the Journal of Sleep Research looked at people's responses to emotional stimuli. The researchers concluded, similarly to many earlier studies, that a person's emotional empathy is less when they do not get adequate sleep.
The association between sleep and mental health has been the subject of research for a long time. One conclusion is that there is a link between lack of sleep and depression.
A study appearing in JAMA Psychiatry examines patterns of death by suicide over 10 years. It concludes that lack of sleep is a contributing factor to many of these deaths.
There is a link between getting adequate sleep and reducing inflammation in the body.
For example, a study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology suggests a link between sleep deprivation and inflammatory bowel diseases that affect people's gastrointestinal tract.
The study showed that sleep deprivation can contribute to these diseases — and that these diseases, in turn, can contribute to sleep deprivation.
Stronger immune system
Sleep helps the body repair, regenerate, and recover. The immune system is no exception to this relationship. Some research shows how better sleep quality can help the body fight off infection.
However, scientists still need to do further research into the exact mechanisms of sleep in regards to its impact on the body's immune system.
Sleep needs vary from person to person, depending on their age. As a person ages, they typically require less sleep to function properly.
According to the CDC, the breakdown is as follows:
Newborns (0–3 months): 14–17 hours
Infants (4–12 months): 12–16 hours
Toddler (1–2 years): 11–14 hours
Preschool (3–5 years): 10–13 hours
School age (6–12 years): 9–12 hours
Teen (13–18 years): 8–10 hours
Adult (18–60 years): 7-plus hours
Adult (61–64 years): 7–9 hours
Adult (65+ years): 7–8 hours
As well as the number of hours, the quality of sleep is also important. Signs of poor sleep quality include:
Waking in the middle of the night.
Still not feeling rested after an adequate number of hours sleep.
Some things a person can do to improve sleep quality are:
Avoiding sleeping in when you have had enough sleep.
Going to bed around the same time each night.
Spending more time outside and being more active during the day.
Reducing stress through exercise, therapy, or other means.
So what’s the final message?
Well, sleep is a vital, often neglected, component of every person's overall health and well-being. Sleep is important because it enables the body to repair and be fit and ready for another day.
Getting adequate rest may also help prevent excess weight gain, heart disease, and increased illness duration.
Medical News Today / CDC / https://www.cdc.gov/
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