Why sleep is important?

Why sleep is important?

Sleep is essential in improving overall health and well-being throughout life. What happens while you are asleep influences the way you feel while you are awake. Your body is naturally rehabilitating during sleep to support your brain and physical wellness.

In children and teenagers, sleep helps promote growth. Inadequate sleep can increase the risk of chronic (long term) health problems over time. This can also have an impact on who well you think, react, work, learn and interact with other people.

According to a study in the open access journal PLOS Medicine, adults over 50 who sleep for five hours or less per night have a greater risk of developing more than one chronic disease when compared to their peers who sleep seven hours. The study, along with evidence from previous studies shows the importance of sleep hygiene for good health at older ages.

 Sleep hygiene tips

Circulatory system and Sleep

Your blood pressure and heart rate decrease when you fall asleep and enter non-REM sleep. Your parasympathetic nervous system controls your body while you sleep, this allows your heart to work less whilst sleeping. Your parasympathetic system is stimulated during REM sleep and when you wake up, boosting your heart rate and blood pressure to normal levels while you are awake and relaxed. A sudden rise in blood pressure whilst awake has been linked to angina, chest pain and heart attacks.

People who do not get enough sleep or wake up regularly during the night are at risk of:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Obesity

Obesity and Sleep

Circadian clocks, including those in the liver and muscle, influence how your body handles fat. Circadian clocks , for example, ensure that your liver is ready to aid in digesting fat at the appropriate times. If you eat at unusual times, your body may react differently to fat.

According to research, not getting enough quality sleep might result in:

  • Higher levels of hormones that control hunger
  • Decreased ability to respond to insulin
  • Increased consumption of food, especially fatty, sweet and salty foods
  • Decreased physical activity
  • Metabolic syndrome

All of these contribute to obesity.

How much sleep is enough?

According to experts, adults should aim to sleep between 7 and 9 hours every night.

Adults who sleep less than 7 hours a night are more likely to have health problems than those who sleep more than 7 hours a night. Sleeping more than 7 hours is not necessarily dangerous and may be beneficial in young adults, those suffering from sleep deprivation and those who are ill.

The amount of sleep children get should depend on their age. Experts recommend naps for children under the age of 7.

Recommended hours of sleep

  • For newborns younger than 4 months, sleep patterns vary widely
  • Babies 4 months to 1 years old should sleep 12 to 16 hours a day
  • Children 1 to 2 years old should sleep 11 to 14 hours a day
  • Children 3 to 5 years old should sleep 10 to 13 hours a day
  • Children 6 to 12 years old should sleep 9 to 12 hours a day
  • Teens 13 to 18 years old should sleep 8 to 10 hours a day

Talk to your doctor or your child’s doctor if you think you or your child is sleeping too little or too much.