We’ve always heard about the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, but do we have any idea as to why sleep is important? Sure, in the past, I’ve pulled an all nighter… at one point, I had a stretch where I didn’t sleep for 72 hours straight- and that was before having kids. But why is sleep so important for our over all health? Does getting a good night’s sleep really make that much of a difference? In short, yes- it makes a huge difference.
According to medical experts, adults require between seven and a half and nine hours of sleep per night. Children and teenagers, on the other hand, require a lot more sleep than adults do. In fact, newborns and babies age up to two months require between twelve and eighteen hours of sleep daily.
Older children require between eleven and thirteen hours of sleep per night, and teenagers require between eight and a half and ten hours of sleep per night. It is important to bear this information in mind and plan your routines accordingly.
But just what are the consequences from not getting enough sleep?
5 Reasons Why Sleep Is Important
Lack Of Sleep Causes Accidents
Lack of sleep played a significant role in recent historical catastrophes, including in the nuclear meltdown in Chernobyl in 1986.
Furthermore, lack of sleep can cause accidents on a smaller scale: it can cause drivers to crash their car due to falling asleep behind the wheel. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, lack of sleep causes an average of 1550 deaths per year in the USA. The majority of these deaths involve people aged 25 or under.
Lack of sleep has caused people to suffer accidents on the job: workers who slept poorly have been known to suffer repeated work accidents. Therefore, sleep is very important for labor-intensive workers – especially builders or carpenters who handle dangerous, heavy tools regularly.
Lack Of Sleep Hinders Your Ability To Learn
Adequate sleep makes it possible for you to learn and think efficiently.
Lack of sleep has negative repercussions on your cognitive abilities, for two reasons. The first is that lack of sleep weakens your attention span, as well as your ability to remain alert, to concentrate, to reason, and to tackle problem solving.
The second reason is that while you are sleeping, memories are consolidated. Therefore, the knowledge that you acquired during the day becomes instilled in your mind. Failure to sleep sufficiently will cause you to forget what you have been studying, which of course defeats the whole purpose.
Lack Of Sleep Can Cause Serious Health Issues
Lack of sleep can cause serious health issues, especially if your lack of sleep is chronic. It can cause:
• Heart disease, irregular heartbeat and heart failure
• High blood pressure
Studies have shown that the majority of insomniacs typically suffer from at least one serious health condition. Hence, it is important to get a good night’s sleep. Never leave insomnia problems untreated, see your doctor for help.
Chronic lack of sleep can cause depression or make existing depression worse. Many sufferers of depression struggle to sleep through the night, due to feeling depressed.
Insomnia is often a red flag for depression.
So, if you have difficulty sleeping more than six hours per night, you may be depressed. Treating your depression is likely to improve your sleep patterns, and treating your poor sleeping habits is likely to alleviate or eliminate your depression.
Lack Of Sleep Causes You To Age Prematurely
Sallow skin and puffy eyes can be the consequence of insufficient sleep.
Chronic sleep loss can actually lead you to develop wrinkles and dark circles under your eyes. It also causes your skin to appear less dewy. This is because lack of sleep causes your body to create more cortisol, which is a hormone that can destroy collagen if it exists in large amounts. Collagen is what makes your skin look smooth, elastic, and wrinkle-free.
Sleeping too little can have negative repercussions on the condition of your skin, thus causing you to age more quickly than you would do if you were sleeping properly.
Those reasons, and others, are why sleep is important.
Do you get enough sleep at night? Why or why not?
Tips to Help You Sleep More Soundly
1. Drink a cup of chamomile tea. Chamomile is an herb that people have been using for centuries. It is known to promote sleep and treat other ailments like upset stomach.
2. Avoid any strenuous exercise three hours before bed. Exercising and engaging in intense physical activities a couple of hours before going to sleep may increase the adrenaline levels in the body and cause sleep disruptions.
3. Eat potatoes, whether still warm or at room temperature, before going to bed. Potatoes are complex carbohydrates that are recommended to be consumed just before going to bed for natural, restful sleep.
4. Drink a mug of hot milk with honey. Milk contains high levels of melatonin while honey is said to have sleep-inducing properties and may act as a sedative.
5. Minimize naps. Naps are usually recommended to be not over one hour because napping too much may disrupt sleep during the night.
6. Doze, rest and meditate. Meditation is a practice where one focuses on a certain sound, object, or thought. Visualization, breathing, and controlled body movements all make up the health-giving practice of meditation. Many clinical studies suggest that this activity actually relieves stress and promotes relaxation.
7. Avoid stimulants such as tea and coffee in the evening – These drinks are high in caffeine, a substance that is known to decrease ability to sleep. For some, caffeine may also increase anxiety and nervousness at high doses. Herbal teas, like chamomile, are okay.
8. Take magnesium supplements. Doses of about 250 milligrams may induce sleep. Consuming magnesium-rich foods like kelp, wheat bran, almonds, and cashew nuts may help promote sound sleep.
9. Maintain evening rituals. Reading, sewing, playing card games, and other activities one likes to do should be done before going to bed. Health experts suggest that any activity that is ritually done before going to bed helps signal the body that sleeping time is coming up.
10. Find out if you have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep condition in which breathing stops for a few seconds during sleep. This condition is one of the causes of daytime sleepiness.
11. Take the amino acid supplements called Gaba. This kind of amino acid induces relaxation and promotes sound sleep.
12. Use white noise. Boxes are available that produce what is called `White Noise’. It is that this kind of noise may aid individuals who are having difficulty in their sleep.
13. Take the dietary supplement melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the pineal gland, a small gland in the brain that is responsible for sleep regulation and wake cycles. Medical studies show that high levels of this hormone may promote sleep. Melatonin supplements are widely considered as a safe and effective sleep aid.
With some lifestyle changes, sound and quality sleep can be achieved. If these lifestyle changes fail, ask your health practitioner about sleep aid medications that can be used to treat your condition.
Be sure to carefully follow the instructions to avoid side effects and drug interactions.
Sleep is incredibly important to your overall health, but when it comes to making sacrifices in our lives; sleep is usually one of the first things to go. You really shouldn’t do this though and I hope that you’ll make it a priority to get a good night’s sleep every night.