Sleep, like eating right and exercising regularly is very important to your overall health and well-being. There are many misconceptions about the benefits of sleep including how much sleep a person really needs and the effects of sleep deprivation. Let’s first understand the major effects of sleep on a person’s body and brain and you then you will better understand why sleep is so important.
Sleep affects the well-known mental and emotional state of your body called stress (see the diagram below). Of course sleep allows you to relax which in turns helps you clear your mind, but there’s more to this than you may think. Stress affects your immune system, memory, energy, mood, and decision-making abilities. By maintaining regular sleeping habits you can reduce stress and improve your health greatly. Let’s review some of the basics of sleep.
Some people have the idea that you need 8 hours of sleep a night, but the truth is that 6-8 hours are sufficient. The actual amount of sleep that you need depends on how your body handles sleep so gauge your sleep requirements by how tired you get during the middle of the day. If you get tired constantly you may need more sleep. Now you may be thinking, “Why can’t I just catch up on my sleep during weekend?” The answer is that doing this is not the same as getting your nightly dose of ZZZs. Catching up can help you relax and clear your mind; however, is does not recoup your attention span or immune system back to what it was versus getting regular sleep nightly.
How about sleeping 8-11 hours a day? Oversleeping has its downsides as well. Obesity, diabetes, and headaches can all be caused by oversleeping. Also it will make your sleep pattern irregular causing you not to sleep well during following nights. If you do decide to catch up on your sleep limit that to tacking on no more than 1 hour to your regular sleep time.
Sleep deprivation is detrimental to the health of your mind, body, and soul. Making sure that you get the proper amounts of sleep nightly is vital to keeping your immune system, memory, energy, mood, and decision-making abilities are up to par.