The Benefits of Healthy Quality Sleep
Sleep affects every area of your life, including your exercise, diet, energy levels and everything else you do on a daily basis. In this article we take a closer look at why getting sufficient quality and quantity of sleep is the one of the biggest missing ingredients for a healthier life.
When you stop and think about it, sleep is actually just as important to health as drinking water or eating. The human body can go about 4 days without water, 25 days without food, and only 6 or 7 days without sleep.
Sleep is our built-in mechanism for rejuvenating, restoring and repairing the mind and body. Healthy sleep can improve your your energy, vitality, productivity and even your sex life, Healthy sleep can also help you lose weight and keep it off.
A study in Sperling Best Places To Live found that the single greatest factor for happiness was having restful sleep. A study in the Journal of Science found that sleep quality has a greater impact on women’s ability to enjoy their day than household income or marital status.
A Dutch study in the Journal of Science confirmed that sleep significantly influences cognitive ability. The phrase “sleep on it” arises from our propensity to make bad decisions when sleep deprived.
Every organ system and every sleep state is affected by sleep and everything you do is done better with good night sleep. The way we work, function and relate to other people, how we accomplish goals and even our sense of well being are all influenced by sleep.
Sleep is the necessary healing process for the mind and body on every level including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual and that is one reason why we spend about ⅓ of our lives doing it.
Unfortunately, over 70 million Americans suffer from sleep problems, and 1 in 10 suffer from chronic sleep issues.
Sleep deprivation is a very common issue that does not get discussed or addressed often enough. Over 75% of people report frequently having a symptom of a sleep problem such as waking up during the night, restlessness, trouble falling asleep, waking up too early or snoring.
Consider some of these findings:
- 1 in 4 people reported having their daily activities affected negatively from a lack of sleep and 1 in 4 also found their sexual relationships suffered.
- 60% reported having driven while drowsy
- 4% of people had an accident or close call being oo tired to drive or falling asleep at the wheel.
- Only 26% of adults say they have a good night’s sleep a FEW nights a month or LESS!
What happens when you are sleep deprived?
Prolonged sleep deprivation has wide ranging effects on the brain and body. Without sleep, several physiological things will happen as the organism continues to run on reserve fuel until it breaks down.
Cognitive functions begin to diminish. including slower reaction times, thought processes, bad decision making and irritability.
Sleep deprivation is also cumulative, building sleep debt which will eventually have to be paid back to catch up. Losing 1.5 hours of sleep reduces daytime alertness by about one third.
Excessive daytime sleepiness also impairs memory function and the ability to process information,further reducing cognitive abilities.
Sleep deprivation also compromises the immune system with some studies suggesting that people who get less than 6 hours of sleep per night have a 50% reduction in the effectiveness of their immune system than those who get a full 8 hours of sleep. Lack of sufficient sleep has also been shown to lower testosterone production and diminish libido.
Another major factor to consider is obesity.. The more sleep deprived you are the more likely you are to become obese and the parrallel is striking.
A study by Columbia University and the Obesity Research Center found that people sleeping 4 hours or less are 73% more likely to be obese, while those who get less than 5 hours are 50% more likely to be obese, and people who get less than 6 hours are 20% more likely to be obese than those who get 7 to 9 hours.
Chronic sleep deprivation is also linked to diabetes, hypertension, depression and even chronic pain.
With all of the serious health implications of chronic sleep deprivation, the benefits of healthy sleep become even more obvious.
One important thing to keep in mind is that quality of sleep is actually more important than number of hours slept. Too much sleep can also be a medical disorder. Each individual has a unique biorhythm and while some people may need 7 to 9 hours others can operate at a high level with 6.5 hours of quality sleep.