The importance of sleep for wellbeing has been a prevalent topic in medical research as of late. 49% of American adults surveyed by the Better Sleep Council feel that they do not get enough sleep. In fact, it’s recommended that adults between 18 and 55 years old get 8 hours of sleep a night whereas, according to Gallup, the average amount of sleep Americans get is 6.8 hours. This is 1 hour less than the national average in 1942. But is sleep really that important? What does it do for us that makes it so important?
A number of biological processes occur during sleep. For instance, growth hormone, which helps to rebuild tissue like skeletal muscles, is released mostly during sleep. In order to repair the common damage to muscle and other tissue from daily use and exercise, humans need a healthy amount of sleep. Proper sleep also helps to restore healthy cognitive function. Brain cells need a chance to be repaired and to flush out wastes that have built up during waking hours.
You can die from sleep deprivation before starvation. That might be a bit of a dramatic statement but besides missing the opportunity to rejuvenate, lack of sleep is detrimental to a well functioning immune system. The research isn’t yet definitive but it does show that T-cell count is lower in sleep deprived individuals. Increase your chances of avoiding the cold and flu by getting to bed early.
In an article, Web MD compared sleep deprivation to being “drunk”. Judgement becomes impaired, reaction time is decreased, and memory is degraded. This is why teenagers are recommended to get up to 10 hours of sleep per night. Students are proven to do better in school when they are well rested.
Be sure to make an effort to get the proper amount of sleep on a regular basis. Not eating late in the evening, avoiding caffeine after 2pm, and dimming the lights in your home prior to bedtime can help improve sleep. Avoid looking at electronic devices before bed, such as computers, cell phones, and the television. Recovery is often even more important to a balanced wellness regimen than any exercise routine. A good nights sleep only helps to improve every other effort to live an optimally healthy life.
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