You may have fought going to bed as a child, but medical studies confirm that a good night’s sleep is crucial to your overall health and wellness. In fact, recent studies also suggest that that early bedtime was not a form of cruel and unusual punishment for you when you were a child. Children today are not getting enough sleep and, as with their adult counterparts, it affects them mentally and physically. You need plenty of sleep no matter how old you are, and here some reasons to back this statement up.
Determining Your Sleep Needs
First, however, you need to determine what optimal sleep duration your body needs. While the general rule is eight hours, some people require more and others require less. To determine your ideal sleep quantity, start logging your sleep patterns. Go to bed when you start to feel tired, no matter what time that is. Notate the time you wake up naturally. Do this for several days in a row and then calculate an average. For example, if you begin to get sleepy at 10 p.m. and wake up around 6 a.m., you’re averaging the recommended eight hours per night. This is what you should strive for every night.
You may need to do this while on vacation or during a long weekend, as the best accounting comes with several nights of sleep. It’s also important to avoid stimulation in the evening that might keep you from feeling tired naturally. Don’t drink caffeinated beverages or eat sugary foods late in the afternoon or in the evening. Don’t stare at your screens in the evening, including your cell phone and notepad. Avoid exercising at night and also avoid eating excessively fatty foods. The fatty foods will make you tired prematurely, which will affect your natural circadian rhythm and averages.
Why is this so important? You already know that heading to work fuzzyheaded makes for a long and unproductive day. It also makes for a grumpy day, which might not sit well with your boss and coworkers. When sleep deprived, your brain cannot operate at maximum capacity, and all that coffee and sugar you pound down to stay awake doesn’t help either. Putting yourself on the caffeine and sugar rollercoaster makes concentrating impossible. You’re awake for about an hour and then crash harder than you were before.
Did you also know that sleep deprivation can make you fat? Now you’re paying attention! That’s right. Studies show a link between sleep deprivation and obesity. When you’re sleepy throughout the day, you not only consume more calories in your efforts to stay awake but you also avoid exercising. Sleep deprivation also affects your natural hormone balance, and certain hormone imbalances put on the pounds. Nothing is more frustrating than dieting and exercising with zero results. Your weight gain may be due to lack of sleep and a related hormone imbalance.
Obesity can lead to heart disease and diabetes, two of the most common killers in the United States, but this isn’t the only reason people suffer from these conditions. You guessed it. Sleep deprivation can also cause these diseases, which is why you need to ensure you get plenty of sleep throughout the night. Fifteen individual studies confirmed that people who sleep less than seven to eight hours a night were at higher risk for heart disease and/or stroke. This is shocking and frightening. You could increase your chances of having a stroke if you don’t get enough sleep.
Sleep also affects your glucose metabolism and those who cannot effectively metabolize their glucose tend to contract type 2 diabetes. One study took healthy young men and restricted their sleep to only four hours each night. They slept for four hours for six nights in a row and were then tested for diabetes. Each participant began to show the signs of type 2 diabetes, and those signs were mitigated once the participants resumed a normal sleeping schedule. Wow. Just wow.
If this doesn’t make you want to get a good night’s sleep each night, nothing will. Who would’ve thought that lack of sleep could cause serious health issues alongside mental fuzziness and mood swings? Don’t put your wellness at risk by refusing to go to bed when you should. You’re not a child anymore. Make certain you get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night for maximum health and wellness. You’ll feel better and look better, too!