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Eight Reasons Why 8 Hours of Sleep Is Important Eight Reasons Why 8 Hours of Sleep Is Important
Thursday, 16 May 2019 12:33

Everyone has met at least one person who brags about being able to get by on 4 to 6 hours of sleep every night. Or, maybe YOU are that person. It may be true that some people are better able to tolerate a few late nights than others, but overall, everyone needs a consistent 7 to 8 hours of nightly sleep. If you’re the person who seems to get by with less sleep, 7 hours is probably sufficient. If you know that 7 hours is too little for you, then you’re definitely an 8-hour sleeper.


Sleep (and lack of it) affects all kinds of things, from relationships to health. Here are the eight most important benefits you’ll have by getting the right amount of sleep:


1) You’ll live longer. People who consistently get eight hours of nightly sleep live longer than those who sleep fewer hours each night or whose sleep habits are inconsistent. This is the conclusion of UK and Italian sleep researchers. They analyzed the data from more than a dozen sleep studies that were undertaken over a period of 25 years. What they discovered is that people who get a consistent 7-8 hours of sleep per night were less likely to die prematurely. In fact, those who slept 7 or fewer hours per night were 12 percent likelier to die prematurely.


On the flipside, don’t think that more sleep equals a longer life. The same data revealed that people who slept more than 8 hours each night were 30 percent likelier to die younger!


2) You might ward off more colds, flus and other illnesses. Eight hours of nightly slumber is shown to improve the function of your immune system. This is all because of chemicals in your body called cytokines. They are released by your immune system while you sleep. Cytokines act in a variety of ways with cells in the body, one of which is to reduce inflammation. Since inflammation is associated with certain viral illnesses, they may actually help prevent you from getting sick, or shorten the duration of illnesses like colds and flus. Studies have also shown that it doesn’t matter if you are sleep deprived for only a few nights or for extended periods: your immune system suffers equally for both.


3) Your risk of heart disease decreases. Eight hours of quality sleep reduces the demand on your heart. Too little sleep puts stress on it, which makes it more susceptible to damage and disease.


4) Your risk of type 2 diabetes also decreases. Not only does lack of sleep mess with your blood glucose levels, it also reduces your insulin sensitivity. In other words, you’ll be more likely to have a blood sugar crash, and your usual dose of insulin may not reverse it.


Type 2 diabetes is different from type 1, or juvenile onset diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is completely preventable by staying active and eating a healthy, balanced diet. It would be foolish to negate the benefits of diet and exercise by not getting enough sleep at night.


5) You’ll benefit from improved memory. Have you ever had days where you couldn’t remember your own phone number? Perhaps you were sleep deprived and didn’t realize those two things were connected. You brain requires consistent full-night’s sleep in order to function optimally. In fact, sleep deprivation has been shown to have the same effect on the brain as being intoxicated with alcohol: it slows down your reaction time and impairs your judgement.


6) You’ll be more productive. Because lack of sleep negatively affects brain function, it makes sense that it affects productivity. Your reaction time, recall, alertness and energy level all affect how productive you are, so if you want to do your best at work or have the energy to keep up with your kids, eight hours of sleep is imperative.


7) It will help you to better manage your weight. While it’s usually not a surprise to people that they perform better on a full night’s sleep, they often don’t realize that sleep and weight management are connected. Sleep-deprivation, in fact, is one of the biggest contributors to obesity. Lack of sleep is a  lethal, double-edged sword when it comes to weight management: it causes you to feel hungrier more frequently, which leads to overeating AND it slows down your metabolism. Getting sufficient and consistent sleep is essential to healthy metabolism, fighting cravings and avoiding overeating.


8) It’s good for your mental health. Sleep is linked to mood, and a lack of it contributes to and may even trigger depression, anxiety and/or panic attacks. It is also thought that a lack of sleep can interfere negatively with your ability to socialize and interact with others. Since having a healthy social network is a crucial part of good mental health, it’s not a good idea to jeopardize those important social connections by getting too little sleep.


Sleep is a delicate thing, and sometimes circumstances beyond one’s own control make it impossible to get a full night’s sleep every single night. Chances are that a few sleepless nights aren’t going to lead to permanent damage, and studies suggest that some problems associated with sleep deprivation can be reversed going forward by adopting better sleep habits. However, by making a commitment to better sleep habits, you can greatly improve your life, mood, performance, relationships and health in the long run.

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