How Does Sleep Affect the Body and How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?
This week marks the National Sleep Foundation’s National Sleep Awareness Week. This annual awareness week is used to bring awareness to the benefits of sleep and rest. For millions of people around the world, sleep seems like a constant chase. Many people crawl into bed exhausted and wake up feeling like they haven’t had any rest at all. For others, they put off sleep to do things they can’t do during the day like study, watch TV, cruise Facebook, or talk to their significant other. But this lack of sleep could be dangerous for wellness. Sleep plays a significant role in good health throughout your life. Not getting enough sleep, could put you at risk for chronic health problems. So how does sleep affect the body and how much sleep should you be getting per night?
Physical Health and Sleep
Sleep plays a vital role in physical health. Sleep is a contributor in healing and repairing your heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of heart and kidney disease, high-blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Lack of sleep can also increase the risk of obesity. Think of sleep as a maintenance program for your body. Sleep helps to maintain a healthy balance of the different hormones in your body including ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry; leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full; and insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose levels. The immune system also relies on sleep to keep the body healthy. Ongoing deficiency can change the way the immune system responds to foreign or harmful substances.
Sleep Affects Healthy Brain Function and Emotional Wellbeing
Sleep can also affect the brain and emotions. Have you ever noticed how slowly your brain seems to work when you do not get enough sleep? While you rest, the brain is working to form new pathways to help you learn and remember information, making sleep vital for students. Sleep deficiency can cause trouble making decisions, controlling emotions and behavior, coping with changes, and problem-solving skills. Lack of sleep has also been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior. It can also mean you have a problem paying attention and lead to problems getting along with others.
How Much Sleep is Necessary for a Healthy Mind and Body?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, children need more sleep than adults. While each person is different, every age group has their own recommended hours of sleep. The average adult between the ages of 18 to 64 needs an average of seven to nine hours. This range decreases to seven to eight hours for adults who are older than 65. For more information or to find your range, visit the National Sleep Foundation’s website.
Lack of sleep can make your body feel sluggish and even make you sick. But to celebrate National Sleep Awareness Week, why not take some time to relax and catch up on some sleep?
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