Why do we need sleep?
While we ask ourselves how many hours of sleep do I need, it's also important as to the why. Sleep is a time when both your entire body and mind can rest. It is essential so that you're able to fully recharge for whatever the next day may bring. We cannot live without it because of how it helps us also against diseases and promotes weight loss.
At the same time, it helps your brain function properly and improves mental health as the external factors of the day can reset and be cleared. It also helps us when we get sick to heal faster while at the same time safeguarding us from getting sick in the first place. It is essential to our survival and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Not getting adequate sleep puts you at risk for so many mental and physical conditions. So you really want to ensure that you have a healthy lifestyle with a proper sleep schedule so that your body will always have that time of relaxation and peace without any interruption. Otherwise, you’ll face these issues that go beyond being frustrated or cranky the next morning.
What happens if you don't get enough sleep?
It’s not simply about being tired, but there are a lot of health factors and risks that are associated when you don’t have the proper sleep. It’s a time for complete mind and body health rejuvenation and repair. Your body will work harder and produce hormones to compensate which can be harmful to your health. In addition, you’ll not be able to function and perform optimally throughout the days.
1. Without sleep you will age much faster
This is actually very true. When you're sleeping and recharging your body, it affects the properties on and around your skin. For example, your blood flow increases within the skin which help give it a healthier look, as it also repairs itself from any type of UV exposure received throughout the day. This assists in reducing the side effects of UV radiation on the skin, such as increased wrinkles or spots.
2. Without proper sleep you’ll be in a poor mood
From a mental health perspective, having a good night's sleep helps improve your mood the next day. This comes because you're fully rested, and with that rest comes better levels of energy. These increased energy levels help with any outside influences that tend to reduce it, such as stressful situations or other annoying situations. Since mundane annoyances do not so easily fluster you, you'll generally be less prone to getting angry, which also helps with your overall happiness. A better mood helps improve social interaction and productivity in a professional setting as well.
3. Without proper sleep your immune system will be weaker
Your immune system needs a break as well. When you're sleeping, all those cells that work to fight off infections, diseases, and sickness, in general, are sleeping with you and regaining their strength and energy. That means when something does come your way; your immune system is at full strength to fight off any type of disease a lot better when it has had a full night's sleep.
4. Without proper sleep you may inadvertently gain weight
Technically, sleep can help prevent weight gain, especially for those that are focused on that aspect. However, if you're not sleeping, you're going to produce a hormone that makes you hungrier while at the same time reducing the hormone that reminds you you’re not hungry. This is because you have a lack of energy, and your body is trying to compensate by sending these hormonal messages. So you'll overeat or have those evening snacks that you don't need instead of simply getting your full night's sleep.
5. Without proper sleep you will be sluggish
With proper rest and sleep, your body not only has the right amount of energy when you're up but also helps with your agility. For example, your reaction time improves because you're rested yet alert and can improve hand-eye coordination. In addition, after a day of intensive stress on your body, a full night's sleep will help with muscle recovery, which compounds to better weight management and an overall healthier lifestyle.
6. Without proper sleep you may have serious heart issues
You're prone to heart-related diseases and higher blood pressure without proper sleep. These can lead to strokes and heart attacks, all because you weren't getting enough much-needed rest and sleep. In addition, you can inadvertently have your body release cortisol with a lack of sleep which also has your heart working harder instead of doing the exact opposite, which is recharging with the rest of your body.
7. Without proper sleep you won't be as sharp or functional the next day
With a good night’s sleep, you can actually work on memory improvement as your brain is reorganizing the day's data set of memories. Without this rest, you may lose those memories or sometimes feel if your memory is a bit hazy. With sharper memories comes better functionality and performance throughout the day.
Your brain is working at a higher level with proper rest, and that means better concentration and focus in your daily work. Without it, you may start to look towards supplements such as caffeine which only help to make your brain think you're not tired. If you end up over caffeinating, that can lead to sleep problems when it's that time.
How much sleep do I need?
There's no set time for people, as it depends on their age primarily. Kids need a much different amount of sleep than the elderly, and knowing these key differences can help you answer how many hours of sleep I need?
- How much sleep do children need?
Children tend to need higher amounts of sleep during their formative years. As their minds and bodies grow until they hit adulthood, they need more than what many believe is a standard eight hours. It gets progressively less as the child ages as well. Newborn children and toddlers need at least 12 hours, and when children start to hit preteen ages up to 12 years old, they’ll need up to 11 hours of sleep a night. When they hit their teenage years, they need at most nine hours of sleep a night.
- How much sleep do adults need?
Again, even with adults, an acceptable range of sleep is needed and not a hard number. The overall range is between six to ten hours of sleep per evening. The recommended range, however, is between seven to nine hours of sleep per evening. We may hear of people sleeping six hours or even less, but that can actually be quite a major risk to their health, and it's been shown to increase mortality rates. It doesn't change much when you get older as the range stays almost the same between seven to eight hours of sleep nightly.
This recommendation, regardless of whether a child, adult, or the elderly, is referencing a good night's sleep, and that's why it's essential to have the right setup to sleep properly and deeply for those recommended hours; otherwise, we try to compensate for lack of good sleep.
In the end
Proper sleeping patterns are critical to your overall health. Don't take it for granted; know that nothing is worth compromising your sleep. It's understandable that there may be points when we're overworked or on a deadline and don't properly sleep for a period. However, that should be the exception and never the norm, as your sleep is what your body needs daily to function normally.
The better you focus on a good night's sleep, the better your cognitive functions will be, the better you'll feel in yourself and the better your health will be. Just remember, if you shy away from your sleeping needs, you'll end up paying a much steeper health-related price down the line.