Importance of Sleep

Hello March!
This month is National Bed Month, as if we haven't spent the past year getting acquainted with our bed and catching up on rest, I'm sure the last thing you want to do is sleep.
However we decided to look deeper into the importance of sleep, and ways you can get a good nights sleep.
Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.
The way you feel while you're awake depends in part on what happens while you're sleeping. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development.
The damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant, or it can harm you over time. For example, ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.
The below guidelines serve as a rule-of-thumb for how much sleep children and adults need while acknowledging that the ideal amount of sleep can vary from person to person.
Age Group Age Range Recommended Amount of Sleep per Day
New born 0-3 months 14-17 hours
Infant 4-11 months 12-15 hours
Toddler 1-2 years 11-14 hours
Preschool 3-5 years 10-13 hours
School-age 6-13 years 9-11 hours
Teen 14-17 years 8-10 hours
Young Adult 18-25 years 7-9 hours
Adult 26-64 years 7-9 hours
Older Adult 65 years or older 7-8 hours
Scientific research makes clear that sleep is essential at any age. Sleep powers the mind, restores the body, and fortifies virtually every system in the body. 
Deciding how much sleep you need means considering your overall health, daily activities, and typical sleep patterns.
Some questions that help assess your individual sleep needs include:
  • Are you productive, healthy, and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or have you noticed that you require more hours of sleep to get into high gear?
  • Do you have coexisting health issues? Are you at higher risk for any disease?
  • Do you have a high level of daily energy expenditure? Do you frequently play sports or work in a labour-intensive job?
  • Do your daily activities require alertness to do them safely? Do you drive every day and/or operate heavy machinery? Do you ever feel sleepy when doing these activities?
  • Are you experiencing or do you have a history of sleeping problems?
  • Do you depend on caffeine to get you through the day?
  • When you have an open schedule, do you sleep more than you do on a typical workday? 


What Happens When We Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
If you’ve ever spent a night tossing and turning, sleeplessly watching time tick by, you know just how cranky, groggy, and under the weather you’re going to feel the following morning. Losing out on the expert-recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep your body needs on a regular basis does far more damage than merely making you feel lethargic and grumpy. There are a myriad of harrowing long-term effects of sleep deprivation that could take a serious toll on your well-being.
If you’re wondering just how crucial the importance of sleep is on your body, check out some of the health problems associated with poor sleep:
  • Heightened risk of diabetes: The human body’s natural reaction to sleep deprivation can sometimes resemble insulin resistance—a precursor to type 2 diabetes. When the body resists insulin, your cells fail to use the hormone efficiently, which then results in high blood sugar levels.
  • Heightened risk of high blood pressure: Prolonged lack of sleep could impair the body’s ability to regulate stress hormones and lead to high blood pressure.
  • Impaired memory cognition: Many studies show that by getting only five hours of sleep a night, you can adversely affect your brain’s ability to remember important information. Sleeplessness can lead to encoding failure which manifests in behaviours such as forgetting where you left your keys or the date of a birthday party you’re supposed to attend.
  • Stunted concentration and problem-solving skills: Did you know that drowsy driving has been proven to be just as bad as driving drunk? Throughout history, sleep deprivation has been the culprit for many disasters. General sleeplessness leads to poor performance and a significantly-decreased ability to concentrate and problem-solve.
  • Weakened immune system: Your immune system serves as your body’s defence mechanism, protecting you from foreign invaders looking to divide and conquer. Without proper sleep, your immune system can become weakened and have trouble fighting off invaders. This can cause you to get sick more often and suffer through a slower recovery time when you do.
  • Heightened risk for heart disease: When you’ve gone too long without consistent, lengthy, deep sleep cycles, certain things occur which prohibit the body from reaching extended restoration cycles during which heart rate and blood pressure are lowered. Over time, this can lead to elevated blood pressure during the day and a greater risk of cardiovascular issues down the road.
  • Heightened risk for weight gain: According to The National Institute of Health (NIH), short sleepers on average consumed 500 more calories a day than people of the same age who slept 7 hours each night. When you get less sleep than ideal, you’ll experience a different balance of hormones in your body that can lead you to crave unhealthy food with more calories. 
Getting enough sleep is good for your health. Here are a few tips to improve your sleep:
  • Set a schedule – go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
  • Exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day but no later than a few hours before going to bed.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine late in the day and alcoholic drinks before bed.
  • Relax before bed – try a warm bath, reading, or another relaxing routine.
  • Create a room for sleep – avoid bright lights and loud sounds, keep the room at a comfortable temperature, and don’t watch TV or have a computer in your bedroom.
  • Don’t lie in bed awake.  If you can’t get to sleep, do something else, like reading or listening to music, until you feel tired. 
  • Keep a sleep diary - It may uncover lifestyle habits or daily activities that contribute to your sleeplessness. A sleep diary can also reveal underlying conditions that explain your insomnia, such as stress or medicine.
Knowing the general recommendations for how much sleep you need is a first step. Then It’s important to reflect on your individual needs based on factors like your activity level and overall health. 
It’s necessary to apply healthy sleep tips so that you can actually get the full night’s sleep that’s recommended. 
See your medical advisor if you have a problem sleeping or if you feel unusually tired during the day.  Most sleep disorders can be treated effectively.


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1 comment

  • A really great yet practical topic particularly during lockdown. I have found a number of my friends informing of their lack of sleep or rather delayed response to falling asleep. I appreciate your advice on exercise and medication. Exercise is crucial during this lockdown and its great you mentioned that it ought to be executed at least several hours before going to bed.

    Sleep is crucial to our cognitive behaviour and memory. I really appreciate this topic because it is key to so many activities we perform during the day. Sleep deprivation is critically important to boost your daily performance activities i.e. duties at work.

    I really enjoyed this topic and loved the way you included all the aspects which could interfere with sleep and the solutions you recommend to get us off to a good nights sleep.

    Thank you.

    With kind regards,

    Jennifer an avid TwoThree supporter.

    Jennifer Williams

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