Sleep Your Way to a Better You

Sleep…we all love getting a good night’s sleep. Turns out, sleep is more important for way more than just feeling refreshed for the day. Sleep impacts your health in so many ways, ranging from memory consolidation to mortality. And I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that Americans are chronically sleep deprived. In fact, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates that about 40 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic long-term sleep disorders each year, and an additional 20 million experience occasional sleep problems. The CDC indicates that more than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep.  

The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) has identified insufficient sleep as a public health problem in the U.S. People who have insufficient sleep are more likely to develop chronic disease (diabetes, depression, obesity, increased prevalence of cancer, mortality rate, and reduced quality of life). Mental health and well-being suffers, decreased productivity, imagination, concentration, focus and vehicular accidents as a result of unintentionally falling asleep while driving all are additionally consequences of a lack of sleep.

On the contrary, getting too much sleep also has negative consequences to your health (can we ever get it right?!). Although the consequences of oversleeping are not as serious as those of a lack of sleep. But oversleeping (like under sleeping) messes up your circadian rhythm (the cycle your body operates on). You’ll likely experience headaches, feel groggy, tired, and drowsy. Other potential side effects may include lower back pain, stroke, diabetes and heart disease. Often oversleeping is an indicator of another issue, such as depression, or hypersomnia (a sleep disorder that results from excess sleeping), or medication/drug use.

So how much sleep do you need? The National Institutes of Health suggests that school-age kids need at least 10 hours of sleep daily, teenagers need 9-10 hours, and adults need 7-8  hours. Getting an adequate amount of sleep at night will boost your health. It will make you refreshed and alert, help to regulate your bodily functioning, improve your mental state, productivity, and promotes a longer, healthier life. You eat better, are more likely to be active, are less stressed, and an all around better version of yourself when you have healthy sleep cycles.

What’s even cooler about sleep, is that you can physically tell a difference in a sleep deprived brain, and a brain that gets adequate sleep. Chinese and European researchers found that sleep deprived brains had less white matter (white matter is made of myelin which helps your brain send signals from neuron to neuron), and reduced nerve tracks in the areas of the brain that control emotions and sensory information.

I hope this information makes you feel guilt-free about prioritizing your health and start getting enough Zzzzz.  Rest well….

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