Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our life. It takes up around Sleeping 25-30% of our daily activities alone. We experience it as part of our routine with/without realizing it; just like brushing our teeth, taking shower, eating and drinking, or even breathing. But do you ever wonder why a good quality, sufficient sleep can lead you to have a fresh mind and happy mood, that helps you to be ready to take up the challenges for the day,  and do well in your activities?

On the other hand, sleeping deprivation can cause big concerns as your body is still tired and your mind out of focus, which can negatively affect how you think, decide, react, work, and learn with other people. Car accidents, injuries at work, unable to focus on the assigned task, are some of the examples associated with sleep deficiency.  In the long run, it can raise the risks of chronic health problems like heart diseases and diabetes.

So what difference could an extra hour of sleep make in our life? Why getting enough sleep is important for us? And how does it affect our health, mood, and general well being?

Benefits of having enough sleep

Better health. Sleep is involved in the healing and repair of your cells & tissues, heart and blood vessels. It also affects how your body reacts to insulin (the hormone that maintain your blood sugar level), as well as the overall immune system. Ongoing sleep deficiency can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Stronger immunity.  As sleep helps to fix our cells & tissues,  the immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy, to be able to defend your body against foreign/harmful substances. When you have ongoing sleep deficiency, your immune system may not be strong enough to fight common infections.

Better weight control. Sleep helps to maintain a balanced hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) and full (leptin). When you don’t have enough sleep, your ghrelin level goes up and your leptin level goes down. This makes you feel more hungry than when you’re well-rested, and crave for high-fat and high-calorie foods. Similarly, when you are overtired, you are less likely to have the energy to exercise, or cook healthy dinner after work, which increase the risk of weight gain.

Improved sex life. When people are too tired and they don’t get enough sleep, this lowers libido and negatively affect their sexual life. It can make people more likely to have sexual problems like erectile dysfunction. Sleeps restores the energy and the hormone (testosterone), which boosts sexual drive for both men and women.

Better, happier mood. When you do not have enough sleep and wake up feeling tired on the next day, you are more likely to be cranky or emotional. When limited sleep becomes a chronic issue in the long run, this may lead to long term mood disorders such as anxiety or depression.

Clearer thinking. Having adequate sleep helps your concentration, improves your cognition, attention and decision making, as well as solves problems and makes good judgments. It helps you to be more productive at work and more focused at home (conversation). Subsequently  less mistakes are likely to be made.

Lower risk of accidents and injury. We tend to make mistakes when we do not have enough sleep. The degree to the incidents varies, from simply writing a typo mistake, tripping or falling off a ladder, cutting yourself while chopping vegetables, to more serious problems like drowsy drivers and car crashes, as well as the famous accidents like the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion and the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which in part, had been attributed to sleep-deprived workers.

Support healthy growth and development in children and teens.  Deep sleep triggers the body to release hormone that promotes their growth & developments, as well as boosts muscle mass and repair cells and tissues in children and teens. It also plays a part in their puberty and fertility.

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

While sleep requirements vary by individual, the National Sleep Foundation released its recommendation on the following sleep requirements, based on age categories, which account for physiological changes that occur as people age.

sleep duration recommendation

It’s important to understand your own individual needs by evaluating how you feel on different amounts of sleep. Ask yourself the following questions:

Do you feel happy and are you productive at work on 7 hours of sleep? Or does it take you 9 hours of quality sleep to get you energized?

Are you overweight? Are you at risk for any disease?

Do you depend on caffeine to stay awake and get you through the day?

Do you feel sleepy when driving?

Are you experiencing sleep problems?

Many studies show that people who get the relevant amount of sleep on a regular basis tend to live longer,  with better physical, mental and emotional health & well being than those who sleep too few or even too many hours every night.  After a good night’s sleep you’ll feel better, with your thoughts are clearer, and your emotions more stable. All of these factors affects your ability & judgment to think, analyze and make decision, to learn and retain information, as well as to perform duties and tasks accordingly. Therefore, it is very important to place a priority on getting a good quality, sufficient sleep on a consistent level.

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