How Important Can Sleep Really Be?
We all know that sleep is important but what does sleep do for us? Getting enough sleep at night can help protect our mental, physical, and emotional health. The brain gets tired after absorbing a certain amount of information and is trying to make sense of it. When we sleep the brain begins to reorganize the information it has taken in during the day. Studies have shown that a good night’s sleep improves learning and can significantly enhance your learning and decision making skills the next day. In addition to these brain function advantages there have also been proven to be advantage in physical health.
During sleep, the body also acts to improve and heal the muscles, heart, blood vessels. Individuals who do not get enough sleep may not be able to take advantage of the body’s healing process. In fact they are at a higher risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and many others. In addition to this, not getting enough sleep can increase your risk of obesity.
This lack of sleep if continued for long enough, can significantly impair the body’s ability to function properly. In addition to this the body may implement a process known as microsleep. Microsleep are brief moments of sleep that can occur when you are normally awake. This can occur commonly with college students when they are sitting through lectures. They may be listening actively throughout the lecture but in fact are missing bits and pieces here and there without even knowing it.
The average amount of sleep that is required NIH breaks down as follows:
- Newborns: 16-18 Hours a day
- Preschool-aged children: 11-12 Hours a day
- School-aged children at least: 10 hours a day
- Teens: 9-10 hours a day
- Adults (including the elderly): 7-8 hours a day
There are also health benefits to getting the right amount of sleep.
- Living longer: There have been studies that have shown that more deaths have occurred in the elderly when individuals got less than five hours of sleep or more than six and a half hours
- Decrease Inflammation: studies have shown that C-reactive protein, which is associated with heart attack risk was higher in people who got six or fewer hours of sleep
- Lower stress: sleep and stress are linked together and they can both affect cardiovascular health. It is important to keep these in mind when setting a sleep schedule.