The Importance of Sleep

The Importance of Sleep

The Importance of Sleep

We all know what it feels like to miss out on a good night’s sleep. New parents are kept awake by the needs of their infants. College students pull all-nighters to finish term papers. Restaurant-goers just can’t resist an after-dinner espresso, even if it means a night of tossing and turning because of it. When you fail to sleep through the night, you may wake up cranky or groggy and struggle through the rest of the day. Sometimes, you may deem the consequences of missing out on sleep worthwhile and choose, for instance, to stay up later than you should. However, regular sleep deprivation can have a more lasting impact. A study done by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 3 Americans do not get enough sleep on a regular basis. Unfortunately, this also means that these 1 in 3 Americans are at risk of developing a host of problems, including chronic disease and impaired brain functioning.

If you’re a human being, you probably will not achieve perfect sleep every single night of your life, but you should be aware that chronic sleep deprivation can have a serious impact on your health. Here are some of the negative consequences of regular lack of sleep:

  • Increased risk of depression
  • Impaired cognition, as in problems with decision making, learning new information, and problem-solving
  • Increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes
  • Weight gain
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Impaired daytime performance, higher susceptibility to making mistakes, slower reaction time
  • Compromised safety—for example, in driving a car

the importance of sleep

Hopefully this list demonstrates the importance of getting a good night’s sleep as often as you can. For adults, this means 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Sleep hygiene refers to the habits you can implement to promote good sleep. Here are some sleep hygiene tips to assist your sleep.

  • Make your bed comfortable and your bedroom a place you like to be
  • Control the room temperature—around 68 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended
  • Ensure that the room is quiet
  • Turn off the lights and make sure the room is dark
  • Refrain from using electronic devices in bed
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends
  • Limit daytime naps to no more than 30 minutes
  • Refrain from drinking caffeine in the hours leading up to bedtime
  • Know that drugs and alcohol, even as they may make you drowsy, ultimately disrupt your sleep cycle
  • Expose yourself to sunlight during the day
  • Get aerobic exercise daily
  • Avoid big meals or foods that are high in sugar or fat directly before going to bed
  • Keep a sleep journal tracking your sleep time, wake time, and nighttime disturbances
  • Try to wake up without an alarm clock

While you may not be able to implement every single one of these tips, hopefully a few of them can make their way into your sleep routine each day. The causes of chronic lack of sleep are myriad—some are psychological, while others are medical. If you struggle with sleep deprivation, consult with a professional who can guide you toward more restful nights.