We need it, yet a vast majority of us simply don’t get enough of it. It’s health benefits are tremendous and we always feel great when we get it, yet we still decide it is not a priority.
Sleep is the gift we give to our body each day to recharge and revitalize ourselves, for it is only during that time that our body can heal from the effects of the day. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), adults need 7-8 hours of sleep a day and teenagers need 9-10. However, 70% of both adults and teenagers do not get sufficient sleep. So, how is this current state of affairs affecting the overall health of our bodies?
- Short-term memory and the ability to multi-task are greatly affected by lack of sleep. In fact, reducing sleep from 8 to 6 hours can have such a profound effect on a person that their mental performance can be equated to a person who is legally drunk. Imagine the effect of missing an entire night of sleep. Our body has a great memory though and requires us to pay back our debts if we skimp in the sleep department. Going weeks, months, or years without adequate sleep does not correct itself in one night. Our body holds us accountable.
- Our mood is significantly impacted if we are short on sleep. Sleep deprivation causes individuals to be grumpy, easily frustrated, short tempered, and generally less happy.
- Without proper sleep, we deprive our body from repairing itself from the effects of stress. Cortisol is the stress hormone our body produces. Proper sleep allows our body to decrease those high levels of cortisol and increase another hormone that is responsible for repairing the tissue that was affected by stress. If cortisol is allowed to remain elevated, blood pressure can remain elevated, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Loss of sleep makes us hungry and also increases our need for more insulin. This vicious cycle causes us to eat more to achieve normal levels of blood sugar, keeps us from wanting to stay active, and builds our anxiety. This anxiety builds the stress which keeps us from sleeping.
- Without sufficient sleep our immune system is greatly compromised leading to an increased risk for colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Even with a minor reduction in regular sleep, inflammation occurs which is associated with many chronic ailments.
- Initial studies are indicating that a lack of sleep ages us faster because our body’s ability to release the growth hormone is hampered. This particular hormone is responsible for breaking down fat, repairing tissue, and protecting the body from infection. Lack of sleep prevents the body from rejuvenating itself on a daily basis.
Be proactive and protect your sleep. It does a body (& mind) good!