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Health Benefits of Getting Enough Sleep

getting enough sleep
Just like healthy diets and exercise, good quality sleep is one of the pillars of good health. Sleep deprivation is linked to many health conditions, including depression, weight gain, heart disease, inflammation, and many more

Getting enough sleep is incredibly beneficial for your health. Studies say it’s as important as exercising and eating a healthy diet.

How much sleep do I need?

The time needed to get enough sleep depends on your ageーkids need to sleep longer than adults. 

  • Adults need seven or more hours of sleep each night
  • Teens need 8 to10 hours of sleep
  • School-aged children need 9 to 12 hours of sleep
  • Preschoolers need to sleep between 10 and 13 hours a day
  • Toddlers need 11 to 13 hours of sleep 
  • Babies need 12 to 16 hours of sleep
  • Newborns need 14 to 17 hours of sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is not only about the total hours slept. It’s crucial to get good quality sleep regularly, so you feel comfortable and rested when you’re awake.

Lack of sleep makes you tired, bored, and unable to focus on tasks. Severe lack of sleep is compared to excess alcohol consumption.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 25 people have fallen asleep while driving. It pointed out that those who slept fewer than 6 hours were more likely to fall asleep while driving. The study concluded that the risk of a car accident increases with each lost hour of sleep.

In addition to these risks, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, or stroke. Read along to learn the benefits of good-quality sleep.

Why You Need to Get Enough Sleep

Here are the benefits:

Healthier Heart

Lack of quality sleep can increase the risk of developing heart disease. 

While you’re asleep, you’re at rest, and the blood pressure is low, thus giving your blood vessels and heart time to rest. The less you sleep, the longer the blood vessels are at work. This leads to high blood pressure for a long time and can later lead to heart disease, including stroke.

Several studies have found that sleeping less than 7 hours a day increases the risk of death from heart disease by 13%. Other studies found that every one-hour decrease in sleep from the recommended 7 hours resulted in a 6% increase in mortality and heart disease risks.

For people with obstructive sleep apnea — a condition characterized by disturbed breathing when asleep — lack of enough sleep increases the risks of blood pressure – a risk factor for heart disease.

Helps Maintain or Lose Weight

Several studies have linked short sleep (sleeping less than 7 hours per night) with a massive risk of higher body mass index (BMI) and weight gain.

One study shows that sleeping fewer than 7 hours every night increases the risk of obesity by 41%. Sleeping longer didn’t increase the risk.

The effect of sleep on weight gain is affected by several factors, including motivation to exercise and hormones.

For instance, tiredness after a short night’s sleep may leave you lazy or unmotivated to hit the gym, go for a swim or do any physical activity that you enjoy. 

The lack of energy from sleep deprivation makes you crave foods with high sugar and fat. This makes you add weight.

Sleep deprivations also decrease leptin levels and increase the levels of ghrelin. Leptin is a hormone that makes us feel full, while ghrelin makes us feel hungry. This causes you to feel hungry and over-eat, thus adding weight. 

Various studies have supported this. They have shown that sleep-deprived individuals have an enormous appetite and eat more calories.

Improves Concentration and Productivity

Quality sleep is essential for good brain function.

A lack of sleep affects alertness, concentration, cognition, performance, and productivity.

A specific study on overworked physicians found that doctors with average, high, and very high sleep deprivation were 54%, 96%, and 97% more likely to have clinically significant medical errors.

Other studies found that getting enough sleep improves academic performance in young adults, adolescents, and children.

Good quality sleep has been shown to enhance memory performance and improve problem-solving skills in both children and adults. 

Enough sleep rejuvenates the brain by flushing away toxins built up during working hours. This makes us think clearly, make decisions and remember information.            

Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Sugar Metabolism

Sleep deprivation is highly associated with the risks of developing type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance — when your body doesn’t respond well to insulin and cannot take up glucose from your blood.

Analysis of 36 studies involving over 1 million individuals found that short sleep of fewer than 6 hours and short sleep of fewer than 5 hours increased the risk of having type 2 diabetes by 18% and 48%, respectively.

They found that sleep deprivation causes physiological changes like increased inflammation, decreased insulin sensitivity, and hunger hormone changes. It also causes behavioral changes like greater food intake and poor decision-making, which increase diabetes risk.

Sleep deprivation is associated with risks of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease, all of which increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.  

Enough Sleep is Associated with Reduced Anxiety and Depression

Mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression are highly associated with sleeping and poor quality sleep.

A study involving 2672 participants found that those with mental conditions including anxiety and depression reported poorer sleeping scores than those without anxiety and depression.

Other studies found that people with obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia reported higher rates of anxiety and depression than those without insomnia.

Studies show that sleep deprivation increases the stress hormone cortisol, which helps the brain control your fear, mood, and motivation. Moderate cortisol helps improve mood and reduce stress. Too much cortisol can lead to anxiety, depression, skin bruises, rapid weight gain, muscle weakness, diabetes, and other health conditions.

The Bottom Line

Like healthy diets and exercise, good quality sleep is one of the pillars of good health.

Sleep deprivation is linked to many health conditions, including depression, weight gain, heart disease, inflammation, and many more.

It’s advisable to sleep for 7 to 9 hours every night to reap the benefits of good sleep. If you have sleeping disorders, visit your doctor for help.

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Samuel Njoroge

AUTHOR: Samuel Njoroge

Samuel (he/him) is a freelance writer, blogger, copywriter, and marketer. And a career spanning three years and enjoys crafting error-free content that increases subscriptions and sales. Samuel excels in mental health, self-improvement, technology, and marketing topics.

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