Sleep is one of those things that we all kind of know is important but many of us don’t really get enough of. Many people think well, I feel fine after only four hours of sleep so I only need four hours of sleep. It is true that as we age we need less sleep. However, it is still crucial to get enough sleep. Here are some of the main reasons you really do need to get your z’s.
1. Physical Health
Plain and simple, our bodies function better when we get enough sleep. According to the NIH not getting enough sleep puts you at higher risk of certain diseases such as heart disease. This is because the blood vessels around your heart actually repair while you are sleeping.
Not sleeping enough also puts you at a higher risk for obesity. While you are sleeping your body is releasing hormones and keeping your body balanced. One of the hormones that is released controls when you feel hungry. So, when you don’t sleep enough you end up feeling hungrier and often eating more the next day.
Immune health also depends on getting enough sleep. Our bodies fight off diseases and infections as we rest and sleep. The reason our body does this is because when we are awake energy has to be spent in other places. But while we are sleeping our bodies have the opportunity to catch up on neglected activities, like fighting off sickness. Not sleeping enough means that you will might get sick more often.
Particularly for children and adolescents growth is vitally important. The body growth the most during sleep. So sleep deprivation for children means that they might not grow and develop normally. This kind of growth needs to happen when it is supposed to happen. You cannot miss growth and development milestones and then catch up later. If you have young children modeling good sleep hygiene can help keep them healthy.
Research has demonstrated that people learn better when they get enough sleep. There are studies that show that people who learn something new and then take a nap remember that information better than people who don’t.
This is really important for college students who do not get enough sleep and might pull an all nighter studying. The truth of the matter is, you are actually better of studying less and getting a good night sleep. The reason sleep is so important for learning is that it seems to be indicated in how we consolidate memories. In other words, sleep helps us remember things better.
4. Mental Health
There is something to be said for that old saying HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired). Here it is the T or tired that we are most concerned about. When you notice that you are feeling tired it might actually make the first three things in that acronym worse. Fatigue can exacerbate mental health conditions and stop you from feeling your best.
Fatigue can actually mimic the symptoms of some physiological disorders like depression, anxiety, and even in rare cases psychotic symptoms. However, you really do not need research to figure this one out. Just notice how you feel when you are tired. Often it comes with a feeling of overwhelm or numbness.
There is evidence to suggest that there are a lot of safety concerns when you are tired. Lack of sleep has been indicated in car accidents. If you want to stay safe on the road, get enough sleep. Additionally workplace accidents go up as sleep decreases. If you have a job that requires physical labor or doing something dangerous you really want to make sure you are well rested.
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