Importance of Sleep
Unfortunately, we live in a sleep-deprived world. A hundred years ago we slept 8-9 hours a night, now we average 6-7 hours a night.
According to a report done by the National Institute of Medicine on sleep, 50-70 million American's are regularly deprived of adequate sleep or suffer from sleeping disorders. This may be good for Starbuck's bottom line, but it's not good for your body or brain.
Sleep is when your body repairs and heals. Chronic sleep deprivation leads to psychosis, as demonstrated in military recruits.
Does Sleep Affect Health?
New studies indicate that improving the quantity and quality has a more significant effect on overall health than either diet or exercise! To understand sleep, one must first understand the importance of quality sleep habits to overall health.
People still rarely associate sleep patterns with their overall health and well-being. It's important to know and understand the different stages of the sleep cycle like the REM sleep cycle and the Non-REM sleep cycle so you know if you're getting a good night sleep or a poor night sleep.
Consequences of Sleep Deprivation
Moderate and long-term sleep deprivation leads to increased:
- Insulin levels
- Weight gain
- Attention deficit disorder (A.D.D.)
- Problems with learning and memory
Insufficient sleep deprivation can be a contributing factor to more severe health conditions. That's not to mention 100,000 car accidents a year-especially by teenagers.
If that doesn't get you to sleep more, then you should know that sleep deprivation spikes levels of the hormone ghrelin, which increases hunger, and lowers your appetite suppressing hormones known as PYY. You eat more to compensate for the lack of sleep and you crave more sugars and refined carbohydrates as a result.
A lack of sleep also increases stress hormones such as cortisol, which kills brain cells in the memory and mood center called the hippocampus.
Sleep is not a nuisance or a luxury, it's part of regular maintenance and repair. Getting enough sleep can mean the difference between a sick, tired, foggy, unfocused, life and one where you feel vibrantly healthy and fully tuned into the world around you.
What many people forget is that good sleep is linked to a great quality mattress. The quality of your mattress can have a huge impact on your sleep, and poorer quality mattresses, also expose you to toxic glues, chemicals, fire retardants, dust-mites, and allergens that can inhibit sleep and have adverse effects on health. Read our mattress buying guide and tips to learn what to look for when buying a good mattress.
The critical "system maintenance" your body performs while sleeping includes:
- Growth hormones are released, for healing and development.
- Discs are re-hydrated.
- Blood flow is directed to areas needing healing.
- Memories are cataloged for later use.
- Motor skills are fine-tuned.
Interesting Facts About Sleep
"A good mattress is critical to both prevention and care of a bad back" Dr. Stephen Elsasser, American College for the Advancement in Medicine". National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research.
Learn more about finding the best mattress for your back in our article related to solving back pain.
Drowsiness contributes to an estimated 600,000 automobile collisions annually and as many as 12,000 fatalities a year". American Automobile Association. "Half of the adults polled get less sleep than needed. Two-thirds believe that sleep loss is bad for health". Better Sleep Council.
These issues are just a few of the consequences of sleep loss. Sleep loss can be attributed to the actual time spent sleeping being shortened, or adequate sleeping time that is interrupted or otherwise disturbed.
The average adult requires 7.5 to 8.5 hours of good sleep per night. You may have heard someone tell you that they only need 5-6 hours and that they learned to operate on that level of sleep. The truth is that at 5-6 hours per night, this individual's performance on the job, and in life are suffering, period!
In a recent study, several men in their twenties were allowed to sleep only 4 hours per night for one week. At the end of the week, they were tested extensively. It was found that the rate of aging had increased to that of a man in his 60's. This was after only one week!