A full night’s sleep is important for both your physical and mental health. However, more than a third of American adults – or 83.6 million people – get less than they need. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recently recommended that adults get at least seven hours of sleep a night and children get 10. National Sleep Awareness Week begins March 2, so now is the perfect time to learn why you should start going to bed earlier.
It’s good for your body
Sleep has a number of physical health benefits, According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), sleep is involved in healing and repairing your heart and blood vessels. Conversely, an ongoing lack of sleep is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
Sleeping also helps your immune system fight foreign bodies, so a lack of it can mean your body has trouble fighting common infections.
Sleeping also releases hormones that help the bodies of children and teenagers grow normally. The same hormone that helps with this growth is the same one that boosts muscle mass and repairs cells in children, teens, and adults, the NIH states.
Sleep also helps maintain the hormones that make you feel hungry or full. When you don’t get enough sleep, those hormones become unbalanced and you feel hungry even when you’ve had plenty to eat, according to the NIH. A lack of sleep is also tied to an increase in obesity.
A lack of sleep may also increase your risk of diabetes. Sleep affects how your body reacts to insulin, which controls your blood sugar level, so a deficiency would result in a higher-than-normal level of blood sugar, according to the NIH.
It’s good for your mind
Mental health is also affected by sleep. A full night’s sleep improves your ability to learn, solve problems, pay attention, and make decisions, the NIH States. However, a lack of sleep makes it difficult to perform any of those tasks. Children who don’t get enough sleep may have problems getting along with others, may feel angry and impulsive, and may have mood swings.
Sleep deficiency has also been linked to much more negative feelings, such as anger, depression, and even suicidal behavior.
It’s good for your wellbeing
A regular lack of sleep can even affect your safety. Several nights of losing even an hour or two of sleep each nights affects your ability to function the same as if you hadn’t slept at all for a day or two. This deficiency harms your ability to drive as much as being drunk would. The NIH says sleepiness is a factor in 100,000 car accidents a year, which results in about 1,500 deaths.
What can I do?
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to get back into good sleep habits, and this blog lists seven of them. With the clocks going forward on March 12 for Daylight Saving Time and sleep patterns getting disturbed again, it’s the perfect time to learn healthy habits to overcome both expected and unexpected disruptions to your sleep schedule. Your body and mind will thank you.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician.