Why it is so important. Effects if you don’t get enough, and benefits if you do get enough

You stumble up to your bedroom and flop down on your bed. Crisp white cotton sheets and an overhead fan twirling slowly – you’re exhausted from the day, so you start to drift off into dreamland. Or you don’t. Tossing and turning looking at the clock every few minutes as time ticks by in agonizing slowness.

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), Sleep is essential for a person’s health and wellbeing. Sadly, there are millions of people who do not get enough sleep and numerous others that suffer from lack of

sleep. There are over 70 different sleep disorders that Americans suffer from and around 60 percent of adults (those 18 and older) have reported having sleep difficulties more than two nights a week. What is even more startling is that over 40 percent of adults suffer from daytime sleepiness that impairs and interferes with their daily routine. Even children suffer from sleep problems with at least 69 percent of them having sleep issues during the week.

It may be hard to believe but adding only 1 hour of sleep to your nightly routine may affect your health, mood, weight and even your sex life. Experts typically recommend between seven and eight hours of sleep a night. If you are typically getting less than that read on to find nine good reasons to crawl into bed earlier and savor those zzzs.

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1. Better memory – There have been studies done that indicate that while we sleep, our brains are in the process of looking at the memories that happened throughout the day. When you do not get enough sleep some of the memories may not be stored properly and they become lost.

2. Clearer thinking – The one with the bad nights sleeps fairs worse on the math problems. They also are likely to make odd mistakes such as leaving their keys in the fridge. Ironically there is also research that suggest that sleep decreases the chance of developing false memories. Even missing just 1.5 hours of sleep research has shown to cause a lack of alertness the next day.

3. Better sex life – Researchers recently conducted a poll that showed that up to 26% of people have stated that their sex life with their partner is suffering because they are too tired when it comes time. Although a direct link has not been shown there is evidence to support that impaired sleep can be associated with lower testosterone levels. Lack of sleep can cause a rift in relationships causing one to feel moody and having more conflict with others.

4. Better health – Numerous studies have shown that insufficient sleep is linked to a myriad of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart attacks and heart disease. Getting good night’s sleep will not keep you from getting a disease but is a good weapon to have in your arsenal. A recent study simulated the effects of disturbed sleep patterns on 10 healthy young adults. After just four days three of them had a blood glucose level that qualified them as pre-diabetic.

5. Less pain – Getting enough sleep may actually make you hurt less. Whether you have an illness that causes chronic pain or are in pain from a recent energy rest really does heal. Ironically being in pain can make it more difficult get comfortable and to fall asleep. A number of researchers have discovered that patients who are able to rest and sleep well help supplement the pain medicine.

6. Risk of Injury Decreases – Getting enough sleep at night may actually keep you safer. The deprivation of sleep has been linked with a number of disasters such as the grounding of the Exxon Valdez and The Challenger. According to the Institute of Medicine, one out of five auto accidents in the U.S. results from drivers that are handling a motor vehicle while drowsy. That number comes out to be about 1 million crashes a year. It is almost as dangerous to drive a car while drowsy as it is to drive a car while intoxicated.

7. Better mood – When you are exhausted you are more likely to be irritable.

8. Enhanced looks – Believe it or not chronic sleep deprivation can have a major affect on the way you look. If your lack of sleep persists eventually this can lead to wrinkling at a young age and you could start to show dark circles underneath your eyes, which isn’t exactly attractive. Not getting enough sleep each night is also shown through research to cause an increase in the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol can break down collagen one of the proteins that help keep your skin smooth and younger looking.

9. Better weight control – One of the easier ways to help maintain your weight is to get enough sleep. When you do not get enough sleep you are at risk for an increase in your weight. There are two reasons for this. One is when you’re tired you’re more likely to lay on the couch and eat junk food than to go for a healthy walk and make sensible choices for dinner.

The second is physiological. Have you ever heard of leptin? This is a hormone that plays a big role in making you feel full. When you don’t get enough sleep your leptin levels drop. People who are tired are actually more hungry than those who are well-rested. Tired people seem to crave more high fat and high-calorie foods.

Our lives are incredibly busy and filled with activities from the time we wake up till we lay in bed with tomorrow’s to-do list running through our heads. We need to make our sleep a priority. Just like exercise and healthy eating.

Take a look at this study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation. This is how much sleep people within the age range should be getting on a daily basis:

• Older adults, 65+ years: 7-8 hours
• Adults, 26-64 years: 7-9 hours
• Young adults, 18-25 years: 7-9 hours
• Teenagers, 14-17 years: 8-10 hours
• School-age children, 6-13 years: 9-11 hours
• Preschool children, 3-5 years: 10-13 hours
• Toddlers, 1-2 years: 11-14 hours
• Infants, 4-11 months: 12-15 hours
• Newborns, 0-3 months: 14-17 hours

Getting enough sleep is a goal that we should all strive towards. Getting even seven hours of sleep a night is a huge step in the right direction.

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