You didn’t get enough sleep last night and find yourself in the worst mood this morning. But not getting the quality sleep you need does more than just mess up your mood—it also negatively impacts your health.
When it comes to promoting good health, healthy lifestyle habits are essential. When we think of a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise and a balanced diet usually come to mind. But those aren’t the only components for a healthy life.
Beyond good eating habits and regular physical activity, you also need to restore and refresh your body by getting plenty of quality sleep.
Why is good sleep so important? And are you getting enough? Read on as we take a deeper dive into the topic!
Why quality sleep is important
OK, so we’ve talked about how not getting enough sleep can ruin your mood—waking you up on the wrong side of the bed, so to speak. But why is sleep such a vital part of a healthy life?
Let us count the reasons:
- Improved concentration and productivity. Yes, you read that right. Getting enough quality sleep will help you perform at your best. That’s because sleep helps boost all aspects of your brain, including the parts that promote cognition, attention span problem-solving, memory and productivity.
- More efficient processing of blood sugar. Studies have found that sleep deprivation—or regularly getting less than six hours of sleep—can actually cause symptoms of prediabetes, a precursor to diabetes. Researchers believe there is a link between not getting enough sleep and Type 2 diabetes due to elevated blood glucose levels.
- A stronger immune system. Ever wondered why you need so much sleep when you’re not feeling at your best? It’s because sleep promotes a healthier, stronger immune system, which you need to fight off illness. Getting plenty of sleep can have a protective effect, helping boost your immune system. In turn, your immune system is able to fend off illness.
- Improved relationships. There’s no doubt about this one! When we’re getting quality sleep, our ability to interact with others is much improved. There’s a good reason for that—researchers believe that a lack of sleep negatively impacts your ability to pick up social cues and process information shared in conversation.
- Lower risk of developing chronic illnesses. When you’re getting enough sleep, you’re reducing your risk of developing many common diseases, including heart disease, stroke, obesity and some types of cancer. That’s because sleep is involved in repairing and nurturing all parts of the body, which is a necessary component in keeping them healthy.
- Improved safety. There is a ton of research on this one—those who don’t get enough sleep often put themselves and those around them in danger. That’s because sleep deprivation slows our ability to react and causes us to make more mistakes.
How much sleep you need
Now that we’ve established just how important sleep is, how much of it do you really need?
Well, that’s a bit of a trick question. How much sleep you need is dependent on a number of factors, most importantly your age.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that:
- Newborns get between 14 and 17 hours of sleep.
- Infants get between 12 and 15 hours of sleep.
- Toddlers get between 11 and 14 hours of sleep.
- Preschoolers get between 10 and 13 hours of sleep.
- Children between ages 6 and 13 get between nine and 11 hours of sleep.
- Teens get between eight and 10 hours of sleep.
- Adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep.
- Older adults (65+) get between seven and eight hours of sleep.
So, now that you know how much sleep you should be getting, are you getting enough? Odds are, the answer is probably no.
In fact, according to the CDC, as many as one in three Americans report not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. That doesn’t even include those of us who get quality sleep sometimes, but not all the time!
Improving your sleep habits
If you are part of the ranks of those who don’t get enough sleep, there are some steps you can take to promote better sleep. It’s all about good hygiene. Sleep hygiene, that is.
The first step is to make getting enough quality sleep a priority in your life. Yes, that probably means cutting something else out.
Second, set—and maintain—a bedtime and wake time that stays roughly the same every day of the week. This is important, because sticking to a set sleep routine helps train your body to get the sleep it needs consistently.
You’ll also want to create a bedtime routine, much like kids have. That routine is a way to clue your body into the fact that it should be winding down for sleep. That means turning off the electronics, and perhaps taking a soothing bath or reading a book for a set period of time.
Finally, create a bedroom environment that’s conducive for sleep. The room should be cool—with an ideal temperature around 68 degrees—and dark.
Practicing good sleep habits but still not getting enough sleep? You could have a sleep disorder. West Tennessee Healthcare Sleep Disorders Center can help diagnose and treat sleep disorders, getting you the quality sleep you need.