How Much Sleep Is Good For Health?
Maybe most of us don't get enough sleep, and many of us don't even realize it. Then, how many hours of sleep is good for your health?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a third of Americans don't get enough sleep, representing a major and uncomfortable public health problem.
Read: Supplements and Vitamins for Good Sleep
The reality is that an adequate amount of sleep is important for your body to function at its best.
Lack of sleep can hinder your ability to think clearly and feel less energetic, and it can have some effects on physical processes, such as an increased likelihood of developing high blood pressure, obesity, and even erectile dysfunction.
There are several reasons why this "sleep needs" trend exists. We all should strive for a good night's sleep for better health and longer life.
Why Is Sleep Important?
The average person spends nearly 26 years of his life sleeping. With more than 200,000 hours of life spent sleeping, you wonder why this is normal.
There's been a lot of research on sleep in recent decades, but scientists still have a lot of questions, too.
While the exact mechanisms behind sleep and how it works are not fully understood, the importance of sleep for good health is well known and documented.
Below we take a closer look at how sleep impacts many aspects of health, and what can happen if you don't get enough sleep.
Mental Impact of Sleep
One of the most notable effects of sleep is its effect on your mental health and cognitive abilities. If you've ever felt extremely tired, you're probably familiar with the fact that lack of sleep reduces your ability to think clearly. Sleep affects your cognitive abilities, but it also affects your reaction time, stress level, and mood.
The effects of sleep deprivation are enormous. Researchers have found that severe sleep deprivation can resemble hangovers. One night of sleep deprivation is enough to significantly change reaction time and spatial awareness. A good night's sleep is very important for brain health.
Physiological Impact of Sleep
The first impact of sleep is its effect on your physical health. Many people associate sleep with something that benefits the brain and the ability to concentrate.
When you go for long periods without adequate quality sleep, you increase your chances of developing high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. It can even make you sick more easily.
Impact on Sexual Health
One aspect of sleep that many people don't pay attention to is its impact on proper sexual function and overall sexual health. There is a purported link between sexual dysfunction and sleep disorders, as is the relationship between sleep apnea and erectile dysfunction.
Significant research still needs to be done on the relationship between sex and sleep, but current research shows that getting enough sleep is an important part of maintaining good sexual health.
If you have sexual dysfunction, consider adjusting how much sleep you get.
How Much Sleep Do I Need?
Everyone has a different bedtime routine and sleep cycle. While there is high variability in how much sleep people need, experts agree that people should aim to consistently maintain between 7 and 9 hours of sleep to avoid the risk of chronic sleep deprivation and the accumulation of sleep debt.
These recommendations are based on the amount of sleep a healthy adult needs, but several factors can change the amount of sleep you should get.
However, there is variability (good and bad) in how we sleep.
Night shift workers sleep during the day while most others sleep at night. Some individuals try to take a nap while others cannot take a nap even if they try. This high variability reflects the subjective and personal nature of healthy sleep.
The amount of sleep each person needs is slightly different. Some people may need more than ten hours per day while others work well with a six-hour break.
Former American president Donald Trump famously needed less than four hours of sleep every night, and the same goes for the likes of Jay Leno and Martha Stewart.
Below is a closer look at the various factors that can affect the amount of sleep you should be getting.
One of the biggest factors influencing the recommended amount of sleep is age. When you are young, you need more sleep, and as you grow older, this requirement slowly diminishes.
Newborns, for example, have very different sleep schedules than preschoolers or older adults.
Newborns don't sleep for a long time, and they take a lot of naps and wake up throughout the day to breastfeed. This nap is equivalent to about 17 hours of sleep each day for most newborns and infants.
School-age children need 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night, while teens may need more than eight to nine hours.
On the other hand, older adults sleep about seven to eight hours each day and sometimes face sleep problems or changing sleep patterns throughout the night.
Another factor that affects the amount of sleep you need is the quality of your sleep.
Sleep has several different stages of deep and very deep sleep, the most important of which is the deeper "REM" cycle.
Getting a good night's sleep is essential to helping your body reset, and if you don't enter deeper sleep stages often or long enough, you'll need longer sleep durations.
Many factors determine the quality of your sleep and how much time you spend in the deep stages of sleep, including genetics, your sleeping environment, and sleep hygiene.
Making your sleep a priority and focusing on getting quality sleep can allow you to get the most out of the time you spend sleeping and function at a higher capacity.
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