The Importance of Sleep
Getting good quality sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health, and creating these healthy sleeping habits now will help you maintain your well-being throughout your life. Sleep plays an essential role in good health and helping you perform your daily functions. Not getting enough sleep can be extremely bad for your health. Teens who experience lack of sleep may experience high irritability levels, weight gain, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. Getting enough sleep carries a lot of value and benefits, yet there are many people who are not getting their daily recommended amount of sleep. Think of your body as a factory machine that performs a number of vital functions. When your body is going to sleep, your body will begin its night-shift activities to help you recover after a long day of activities. During sleep, as your body is recovering, it is also responsible for producing cells that strengthen your immune system, heal damaged cells, and regulate your cardiovascular levels.
Looking at what age group you are in will tell you how many hours of sleep you should be getting. Throughout the course of your sleep, the number of hours you need will change. Infants from the age of 4 to 12 months need 12-16 hours of sleep, whereas children at the age of 6 to 12 need approximately 9 to 12 hours a day. Children who are younger, especially newborns and infants, typically need more hours of sleep for their growth and development. For teens who are between the ages of 13 to 18, their body requires 8 to 10 hours a day, and for adults the recommended amount of sleep falls between 7 to 8 hours of sleep. These numbers are provided by recent American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommendations that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has endorsed. Individuals should not rely on taking naps throughout the day in substitute of not getting enough sleep from the night before. Naps provide a short burst of energy, but cannot provide you with the same benefits that deep sleep provides.
Here are some of the benefits you reap from getting a good night’s sleep!
- Learning and memory: Sleep allows individuals to have better memory, cognition, and performance skills. It has been shown to help teens and students do better on tests when they are well rested.
- Metabolism and weight: Sleep deprivation can alter teen hormonal levels and cause problems in the way carbohydrates are stored and used in the body, resulting in possible weight gain and affect metabolism processes.
- Maximized energy and behavior: Well-rested individuals will have maximized performance, higher concentration levels, and be more engaged throughout the day.
- Decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke: People who get enough sleep demonstrate lower levels of stress hormone levels and strengthen immune function.
Here are some quick tips and strategies to help you with your sleep habits if you find yourself struggling to get a good night’s sleep.
- Set up a bedtime and sleep routine: Going to sleep and waking up the same time each day will help your body’s internal clock get into the habit of sleeping at the appropriate time. Sleeping at the same time on both weekends and weekdays can help you sleep better. If you were to sleep late on the weekends, it could interfere with how you sleep on the weekdays.
- Avoid the use of electronics before sleep: Bright lights and use of electronics before sleeping can send signals to your brain indicating that it is time to be awake rather than prepare for sleep.
- Avoid caffeine before sleep: Caffeine is a stimulant that can interfere with your sleep levels and make it harder to fall asleep at night.
As nutrition and exercise both play an important role in your health, sleep is also one of the important factors of health that can affect your overall well-being if you do not get enough of it.
Being aware of how your body functions is important, and evaluating sleep levels can help you understand your mood and health. If you are not getting enough sleep or sleeping over the recommended amount, but still do not feel well rested, you should reach out to the doctor to talk about your health. To achieve optimal health, individuals at all ages should be more conscious of getting good, quality sleep at the right times to support healthy brain function and overall well-being.
This blog was written for Healthy Young NV by Linda, a High Sierra AHEC Student Ambassador. Linda is a senior at the University of Nevada Reno, studying Biological Sciences. She is passionate about health care policies and creating change in the healthcare system for low-income families. Linda plans to graduate Fall 2019 and continue graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies.