Sleep Well – Live Well (Part 3)

a couple sleeping with their alarm clock

Today, you were one of the fortunate people who woke up. Whether you feel refreshed or tired, that is something to be grateful for. You can up your chances of repeating that process by deciding to get eight hours sleep each night. The list of reasons your body will thank you is long. If you read the first two parts of this series you already know that in terms of importance, your need for sleep is right up there with food, water and air. In fact you can live longer without food than you can without sleep.

Here are five good reasons to get some rest.

1. You will look better!

Your body repairs itself best when you rest. Your skin, eyes, and circulatory system all need sleep like a car needs gas. Sleep loss can lead to sallow skin, lines, and dark circles under the eyes. Lack of sleep causes your body to release a stress related hormone called cortisol. Too much cortisol breaks down collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth.

Sleep loss also causes the body to release too little HGH or human growth hormone, which is needed for muscle mass and bone density.

In addition, compared to people who skimp on sleep, you will have a much easier time keeping off unwanted pounds. *Studies showed people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours.

2. You will think, learn, remember, and make better decisions.

Lack of sleep affects your ability not only to think and learn, but to recall what you have learned or experienced. Studies have shown that one of the many functions of sleep is helping you consolidate and make sense of memories. Take note: Sleep-deprived people are especially unable to assess what lack of sleep is doing to them. If you think you’re doing fine on less sleep, you’re probably wrong. And if you work in a profession where it’s important to be able to judge your level of functioning, this can be a big problem. Dr. Philip Gehrman, Clinical Director, Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Penn Medicine says, “Studies show that over time, people who are getting six hours of sleep, instead of seven or eight, begin to feel that they’ve adapted to that sleep deprivation — they’ve gotten used to it, but if you look at how they actually do on tests of mental alertness and performance, they continue to go downhill. So there’s a point in sleep deprivation when we lose touch with how impaired we are.”

3. You will have better sex. (Maybe this should have been number 1?)

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2002 suggests that many men with sleep apnea also have low testosterone levels. Web MD says that by the time many people come to the Sleep Center at the University of Pennsylvania they are no longer sleeping with their spouses. Low energy, fatigue and relationship problems are often symptoms of not enough rest and can lead to lack of interest and inability to perform.

4. Your likelihood of dying an untimely death decreases with proper sleep.

In something called the “Whitehall II Study,” British researchers studied 10,000 British civil servants over two decades. Results showed that those who cut their sleep from seven to five hours or fewer nearly doubled their risk of death from all causes. In specific the NIH says, “Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.”

5. You will be less likely to become depressed.

Sleep loss aggravates the symptoms of depression, and depression can make it more difficult to fall asleep. To be at your best emotionally you need the benefits of seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

So – How much sleep do you need? The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has provided this chart: Check it out.

Age Recommended Amount of Sleep
Newborns 16–18 hours a day
Preschool-aged children 11–12 hours a day
School-aged children At least 10 hours a day
Teens 9–10 hours a day
Adults (including the elderly) 7–8 hours a day

Incidentally every bodily system is impacted by sleep or the lack of it.

Important note: It might seem that if some sleep is good, more is better. Not so. Oversleeping can cause some symptoms that are similar to insufficient sleep. For a normal adult seven to eight hours is the right amount of rest to allow your body to do function normally.

Why Is Sleep Important? – The Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep – When Sleep Problems Cause Sex Problems – 10 Things to Hate About Sleep Loss

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