WHY WE LOVE SLEEP (AND YOU SHOULD, TOO!)

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When your workload becomes overwhelming, cutting down on sleep may seem like the only solution. After all, how much difference will it make if you sleep an hour or two less every day? Apparently, quite a lot, according to scientists.

Chronic sleep deprivation leads to many health problems and can increase the risk of diabetes, heart problems, obesity, etc. Too little sleep also affects your mood, productivity and concentration.

Sleep plays a very important role in your mental, physical and emotion well-being. A good night’s sleep rejuvenates your mind and makes you happier, healthier and more productive.

If you are compromising with your sleep on a regular basis, you are headed for a major physical and emotional breakdown. Here are the top 4 reasons why sleep plays a vital role in your overall health and well-being.

 

1) Adequate Sleep May Help You Lose Weight

According to researchers, people who sleep less are more likely to be overweight or obese. Two hormones in your body play an important role in controlling hunger and fullness. Ghrelin, the “hunger hormone”, stimulates appetite, causing you to eat; whereas Leptin, the “satiety hormone”, suppresses hunger and tells you to stop eating when you are full. When you are sleep deprived, Ghrelin levels shoot up, causing you to eat more food than normal and Leptin levels go down, meaning you are never satisfied and your body craves for more food. This leads to weight gain.

 

2) Quality Sleep May Strengthen the Immune System

A good night’s sleep may boost your immune system and keep your stress levels at bay. Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to fall sick as compared to people who get an adequate amount of sleep. Long term lack of sleep also increases the risk of heart diseases, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

 

3) Sufficient Sleep Improves Memory, Learning, Concentration and Problem-Solving Skills

When you sleep, your brain stays active and is processing the day’s information which helps to preserve and enhance your memory. According to a study conducted by Harvard researchers, a good night’s sleep improves memory and increases your ability to solve problems. Lack of sleep hampers decision-making and also impairs a person ability to concentrate and learn new information.

 

4) Proper Sleep Helps in Muscle Recovery and Growth

Rest and recovery are the two most important components of any weight training program. When we sleep, the body rests and the energy consumption is lowered. Hence, a good night’s sleep ensures that the food we eat during the day is more efficiently used to repair and rebuild muscles. Also, during sleep, your body releases HGH (Human Growth Hormone) which helps in muscle recovery and growth.

 

HOW MANY HOURS OF SLEEP DO YOU NEED PER NIGHT?

While the amount of sleep needed to function efficiently may vary from individual to individual with some people able to function perfectly even with 4-6 hours of sleep each night, such instances are rare. An average adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best.

According to National Sleep Foundation, below are the recommended sleep durations for different age groups:

Age Recommended May be appropriate Not recommended
Newborns

0-3 months 

14 to 17 hours 11 to 13 hours

18 to 19 hours

Less than 11 hours

More than 19 hours

Infants

4-11 months

12 to 15 hours 10 to 11 hours

16 to 18 hours

Less than 10 hours

More than 18 hours

Toddlers

1-2 years

11 to 14 hours 9 to 10 hours

15 to 16 hours

Less than 9 hours

More than 16 hours

Preschoolers

3-5 years

10 to 13 hours 8 to 9 hours

14 hours

Less than 8 hours

More than 14 hours

School-aged Children

6-13 years

9 to 11 hours 7 to 8 hours

12 hours

Less than 7 hours

More than 12 hours

Teenagers

14-17 years

8 to 10 hours 7 hours

11 hours

Less than 7 hours

More than 11 hours

Young Adults

18-25 years

7 to 9 hours 6 hours

10 to 11 hours

Less than 6 hours

More than 11 hours

Adults

26-64 years

7 to 9 hours 6 hours

10 hours

Less than 6 hours

More than 10 hours

Older Adults

≥ 65 years

7 to 8 hours 5 to 6 hours

9 hours

Less than 5 hours

More than 9 hours

 

Losing an hour or two of sleep daily can drastically affect your health. The next time you are thinking of cutting back on sleep, remember – Sleep is a necessity, not an indulgence!

 

References:
https://sleepfoundation.org/media-center/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times
http://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/how-much-sleep-do-you-need.htm
http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/9-reasons-to-sleep-more

Image courtesy: FreeDigitalPhotos.net (tiverylucky)

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