Why Is It Important to Get Enough Sleep?

How much sleep is enough? Learn about sleep cycles, how to get enough sleep, and how sleep affects health, thinking, and quality of life.

Why Is It Important to Get Enough Sleep?

All too often, we sacrifice sleep in lieu of a host of activities, tasks, and job duties, as there are only so many hours in a day. What we need to ask ourselves is whether doing so will stand in the way of us experiencing a healthy body and mind.

The experts reckon that enough sleep is vital to our well-being. Do not for one moment think that your body and brain shut down while you are sleeping. What happens in the background is that your internal organs are very hard at work to keep things going through the night.

According to Dr. Merrill Mitler, a neuroscientist at NIH, sleep services all areas of our bodies in one way or another. What she is referring to is the energy balance, alertness, and mood as well as our intellectual functions.

There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that sufficient sleep ultimately results in improved concentration, speedier reflexes, and the ability to think clearer.

Another sleep expert, Dr. Michael Twery, stated that sleep is not just essential to the functioning of our brain, but it has an effect on almost every tissue in our bodies. What comes to mind is our growth and stress hormones, the way we breathe, our appetite, cardiovascular health, and even our blood pressure.

Current research shows that consistently forfeiting sleep may eventually lead to diabetic-like symptoms in people who are considered to be healthy.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

Did you know that a good night's rest consists of up to 5 sleep cycles? Every cycle is made up of periods of deep sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

While babies would typically sleep around 16 hours, adults would need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Toddlers and children should strive for 10 hours of sleep.

What Disrupts our Sleep Cycles?

Inferior bedding and mattresses make a considerable difference in how well we sleep. Then, there is the question of whether we make a habit of drinking caffeinated beverages last thing at night. Many of us stare at blue-light devices such as our smartphones or laptops. These are the type of things we should avoid if we want to experience better quality sleep.

What Benefits Will We Derive From Sleeping Enough?

The million-dollar question on everyone's lips would be... Why would enough sleep be of benefit to me?

Let's have a look:

  • Sharper Brain - When we run low on sleep, the chances are that our memories will fail us, and we will have difficulty recalling certain things.
  • Mood Boost - We will undoubtedly experience fewer positive reactions and more negative ones as our brains were not afforded enough time to process our emotions. Chronic lack of sleep will make us cranky and short tempered. Unfortunately, our loved ones will face the brunt of our wrath. Not so cool, is it?
  • Healthy heart - Our blood vessels and heart deserve a rest. If you do not sleep enough, your blood pressure stays at a higher than ideal levels, which can eventually lead to a stroke. We need some downtime to preserve our hearts.
  • Improved achievements - Sports like athletics and biking requires a sizeable output of energy. What you would need is time to repair your muscles and build of reserves to cope with bursts of energy. Sleep is very much in short supply and will make a huge difference to your performance when taken seriously.
  • Learning Process Increases - Memory, learning, and sleep processes are aspects of our lives that are not always well understood. According to studies conducted at Harvard University, it is suggested that humans make it their mission to get a healthy quantity and good quality sleep as these have a profound effect on our abilities to learn and memorize properly. Someone who is sleep-deprived finds it challenging to focus optimally and will struggle to learn. Also, our memories need to be adequately consolidated to help us learn new information without too much effort involved.

To summarize the effects of insufficient sleep, whether it be due to inferior sleep accessories or the wrong mattress, the lack thereof is not conducive to good health for various reasons.

When we are tired all of the time, the ability to perform well is impeded. In turn, our neurons do not fire as it should, our muscles do not experience enough rest, and our organs are not synchronized. Worse of all, not getting enough sleep results in lapses in focus that can lead to accidents or injury.

Resources: Healthy Sleep, WebMD