How important is sleep for your health?!

When you are honest with yourself: How many hours do you sleep per night? I think most of us sleep too short and too unregulary. We all live in a performance society where we can´t waste a large amount of time for sleep. But, we all know how important many and regular sleep is for our health. In this article, I will show you what sleep actually means and which health benefits regular sleep has.


Sleep is defined on the basis of behavioral and physiological criteria dividing it into two states: non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep which is subdivided into three stages (N1, N2, N3); and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep characterized by rapid eye movements, muscle atonia and desynchronized EEG (see in Figure 1). NREM and REM sleep alternate in a cyclic manner (a total of 4 to 6 cycles are noted during sleep in adults), each cycle lasts on an average from 90 to 110 min. . In adult humans, the first third of sleep is dominated by the slow-wave sleep and the last third is dominated by REM sleep. NREM sleep accounts for 75 to 80 percent of sleep time in adult humans. REM sleep accounts for 20 to 25 percent of total sleep time.


Figure 1 Sleep Stages (Source: https://www.verywellhealth.com/thmb/ZXALi8R12qExkhBrINDU3eQOAZk=/1500x1000/filters:no_upscale():max_bytes(150000):strip_icc()/the-four-stages-of-sleep-2795920_FINAL-5c05c2fc46e0fb00018dac3d.png; Retrieved on 15.09.2021)


The biological function of sleep remains the greatest mystery of all times, although it is known that sleep is essential and that sleep deprivation, either resulting from lifestyle or sleep disorders (e.g., sleep apnoea, insomnia, medical, psychological, psychiatric, medication-related, or neurological diseases) will cause short-term and long-term consequences. The short-term effect leads to impaired attention and concentration, impaired quality of life, increased rates of absenteeism with reduced productivity, and accidents at work, home, or on the road. Long-term consequences of sleep deprivation include increased morbidity and mortality from increasing automobile accidents, coronary artery disease, heart failure, high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, stroke, and memory impairment as well as depression. Long-term consequences, however, remain controversial. In the end, good sleep is essential to good health.


Health Benefits of a Full Night´s Sleep

  • Sleep improves your immune function

  • Poor sleep is linked to higher body weight, which means that short sleep duration is associated with an increased risk of weight gain and obesity

  • Poor sleepers have a greater risk of heart disease and stroke (sleep can strengthen your heart)

  • Sleep affects glucose metabolism and type 2 diabetes risk

  • Poor sleep is linked to depression

  • Poor sleep is linked to increased inflammation

  • Better Sleep = Better Mood (Sleep affects emotions and social interactions)

  • Good sleep can improve concentration and productivity

  • Good sleep can maximize athletic performance

  • Sleep Improves Memory


The bottom line: Sleep is good. And necessary. “Consistent sleep of seven hours a night is what’s recommend for adults just for daytime functioning—being on task, being alert for the day, and being able to concentrate and not be so moody and tired during the day,” says Dr. Kohler, from the sleep medicine at SCL Health in Montana.

I hope this is enough evidence to convince you to aim for seven to eight hours a night so your mind and body can fully reap all the benefits. Need some help counting sheep? Create a nighttime routine to get your mind and body relaxed, maybe try meditating. Oh, and stop looking at your phone or tablet — those social media alerts will all be there in the morning. There are more methods with which you can ensure that you get enough sleep. More of that on Thursday! Till then, sweet dreams!


Literature

Chokroverty, S. (2010). Overview of sleep & sleep disorders. Indian J Med Res, 131(2), 126-140.


Leech, J. (February 24, 2020). 10 Reasons Why Good Sleep Is Important. Retrieved on 15.09.2021; from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-reasons-why-good-sleep-is-important


SCL Health (n. d.). The Benefits of Getting a Full Night's Sleep, Retrieved on 15.09.2021; from https://www.sclhealth.org/blog/2018/09/the-benefits-of-getting-a-full-night-sleep/


Additional Literature

Grandner, M. A. (2017). Sleep, health, and society. Sleep medicine clinics, 12(1), 1-22.

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