Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things for your health and wellbeing. As an adult, you can prevent a lot of diseases and living conditions like obesity and stroke when you get enough night's sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), millions of Americans suffer from lack of sleep. In a survey conducted in 1999-2004, the NSF concludes that at least 40 million people are living with 70 different sleep disorders in the US.
At least 60% of American adults report sleeping disorders at least once every week. Most adults also experience sleepiness during the day, which affects their productivity at work.
How does sleep help your body?
1. Mental Health: Sleep improves concentration and productivity
A good night's sleep can help you improve your concentration at work. Having enough sleep is important for the various aspects of your brain like performance, cognition, productivity, and concentration.
When you deprive your body of sleep, you cannot sleep or concentrate well at work. In a study, interns on a busy schedule are found to be 36% more likely to make mistakes at work compared to interns on a schedule that allow for a good night's sleep.
In another study, it is also established that lack of adequate sleep can also affect memory performance to the same degree as alcohol intoxication.
2. Heart health: Reduces the risk of heart diseases
When you have enough sleep, you reduce the risk of developing heart diseases and stroke. In a recent study of people who do not get enough sleep, it is found that they are at greater risk of stroke and heart diseases compared to those who sleep for at least 7 hours a day. Lack of enough sleep is a factor believed to contribute to the risk of heart disease.
3. Weight management: It reduces the risk of obesity
Getting enough sleep is not only good for your heart but also for your weight. When you sleep, your body burns some calories, and this has been shown to keep your body weight in check. Yes, you can burn some calories sleeping.
Individuals with sleep deprivation tend to lose weight slowly compared to those who have enough sleep daily. Research has shown that not having enough sleep is one of the risk factors for obesity.
The impact of sleep correlates to various aspects like motivation to exercise and hormones. Therefore, if you are on a strict diet to lose weight, having enough sleep is one of the most crucial factors to look into.
4. Immune system: Improves your immune function
Having enough sleep as an adult can help to boost your immune function. A slight loss in sleep has been shown to reduce impaired body immunity exposing you to the risk of diseases. In a study, scientists establish that those who sleep 8 hours and more are not likely to develop cold.
If you are fond of catching a common cold, getting adequate sleep can help you a lot. You can also work on your diet by eating more garlic and other greens.
How many hours of sleep is enough?
As an adult, how many hours should you sleep? What is the best time to sleep? According to NSF, the recommended sleep time for adults is between 7-9 hours a day.
The appropriate night sleeping hours should not be less than six hours a day if you want to remain alert and avoid sleepiness during the day. You can decide to get day or night sleep.
What can poor quality sleep cause in the long run?
In the long run, if you don’t have adequate and quality sleep, your body can develop many health issues. Here is how lack of sleep will affect you:
- You may become obese for not having enough sleep.
- You become less immune. Lack of sleep can weaken your immunity making you more vulnerable to diseases.
- It weakness your heart is exposing you to cardiovascular diseases like diabetes and stroke.
- Lack of sleep means you won’t be able to handle stress. Sleep relieves you of stress and regulates your moods. It improves your ability to cope with stressful situations in life. When you sleep, your body reduces the level of cortisol hormone. High levels of cortisol reduce your ability to cope with stress.
- Lowers your reaction time. According to this study by AAA, if you don’t have enough night sleep you are more likely to engage in an accident because you tend to be slow when your brain is not fully rested.
Tips to Improve Sleep Quality
Sometimes it not how long you sleep but the quality of sleep that matters. If you want to have enough good night sleep, here are some tips you should practice:
- Set your bedtime and stick to it every day. Having enough sleep means going to bed early enough and rising early. You can set your alarm to remind you when it’s time to get to bed.
- Practice going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. This way, your body adapts, and it’s easier to fall asleep.
- Make your bedroom comfortable for sleep: Before you get to bed, you should ensure your room has the perfect temperature for sleep. Choose the right temperature setting for sleep. The room should not be too cold or too hot. According to NSF, the recommended bedroom temperature for sleep should be 18.3 degrees Centigrade.
- Reduce blue light exposure before bedtime. Before going to sleep, you should reduce your exposure to the screen. Also, make it a rule to remove phones, TV, laptop, and other screens that emit blue light from your bedroom.
- Always ensure the room is dark when you are about to sleep by covering or switching off all electronics that emit light.
- Work out early in the morning: Your body will cool down late in the evening, and this improves your chances of getting quality sleep when you retire to bed.
- Check your diet: you should be mindful of what you eat during the day or hours before you retire to bed. Always avoid alcohol, caffeine, refined carbs, and nicotine before going to bed.
- Try to avoid big meals when you are about to go to bed. You can make your meals early and eat at least two hours before bed to avoid hurt burns and stomach upsets that can deny you quality sleep.
- Relieve yourself of anxiety by postponing brainstorming and worrying about the next day so that you can easily fall asleep.
- Do some breathing exercises and meditation before you fall asleep. You activate the relaxation response and lower stress levels by breathing from your belly. It is much easier to fall asleep after a deep breathing exercise.