In today’s fast-paced world, a good night’s sleep has become an indulgence. However, sleep shouldn’t be a luxury, it is a necessity. It is vital to our physical and mental health.
What is The Importance of Healthy Sleep?
Sleep is not just a time when the body and brain “shut down” for a few hours to rest and prepare for the next day. Scientists have stated that the body and the brain do not “shut down” completely when we sleep. They are often working even harder than they do during the day, undergoing processes to restore cells, process information, and improve health.
Sleep has two main phases—REM and non-REM. We spend about a quarter of our sleeping lives in the REM phase, which is a period of vigorous brain activity, marked by vivid dreams. This stage may be responsible for consolidating information and processing memories, which is why babies (whose entire days are full of new experiences the brain needs to process) spend twice as much time in REM sleep than adults do.
Non-REM sleep has three to four distinct stages (depending on which experts you ask). These grow gradually deeper throughout the night until it becomes very difficult to be disturbed from sleep. During this time, the body works to gently lower the heart rate, temperature, and breathing rate.
Have you ever wondered why there is World Sleep Day It is an annual event intended to be a celebration of sleep and a reminder of just how important sleep is. It is also to raise awareness of sleep disorders and the burden that they place on society.
Healthy Sleep helps you feel rested and energetic the next day. It gives your heart and vascular system a rest. During sleep, more growth hormones are released which helps children grow. It also boosts muscle mass and the repair of cells and tissues in children and adults.
Sleep releases sex hormones, which contributes to puberty and fertility. In addition, it keeps us from getting sick and helps you get better when you are sick, by creating more cytokines (hormones that help the immune system fight various infections).
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Here is the amount of sleep recommended in a 24-hour day for children based on their ages and adults =
- Newborns (0-2 months): 12-18 hours
- Infants (3-11 months): 14-15 hours
- Toddlers (1-3 years): 12-14 hours
- Preschool (3-5 years): 11-13 hours
- School-age (5-10 years): 10-11 hours
- Teens (11-17 years): 8.5-9.5 hours
- Adults (18 and over): 8-9 hours
These are just guidelines, everyone will need a little more and a little less. (Read: Is your child getting enough sleep?)
Babies tend to sleep a lot which is why they have longer sleeping hours. It is not unusual for newborns to have unusual sleeping habits, particularly for them to want to sleep during the day and stay awake at night. Children also particularly need longer hours of sleep because they are growing.
Some people think that adults need less sleep as they age. But there is no evidence to show that seniors can get by with less sleep than people who are younger. As people age, however, they often get less sleep or they tend to spend less time in the deep, restful stage of sleep.
Apart from the hours of sleep, the quality of the sleep you get is also important.
What happens when you do not get good, quality sleep?
Sleep deprivation means not getting the required amount of sleep. While it has become the norm for adults. It is a problem for children as well. Lack of sufficient sleep can take a serious toll on their mental and physical health.
Sleep deprivation can cause a range of mental and physical problems, including impairing your ability to think clearly, focus, react, control emotions. This can result in serious problems in the workplace, at school and at home.
How Does Sleep Affect Growth In Children?
Deep sleep coincides with the release of growth hormone in children and young adults. Many of the body’s cells also show increased production and reduced breakdown of proteins during deep sleep. Since proteins are the building blocks needed for cell growth and for repair of damage from factors like stress and ultraviolet rays, deep sleep may truly be “beauty sleep.”
Activity in parts of the brain that control emotions, decision-making processes, and social interactions are drastically reduced during deep sleep, suggesting that this type of sleep may help people maintain optimal emotional and social functioning while they are awake. A study in rats also showed that certain nerve-signalling patterns which the rats generated during the day were repeated during deep sleep. This pattern repetition may help encode memories and improve learning.
Below are 11 reasons why we need healthy sleep
1. Skipping out on sleep can make it difficult to learn and retain information.
People who get a good night’s sleep after learning a new task are better able to recall what they’ve learnt. In addition, it is also important to get adequate rest the night before a mentally-challenging task.
2. Sleep Keeps Your Heart Healthy
The heart and vascular system work around the clock to keep your cardiovascular health in tip-top shape. The NIH notes that natural dips in breathing and blood pressure during our sleeping hours keeps the cardiovascular system going strong. If sleep is cut short, this needed variance in our internal systems doesn’t take place. Over time, lack of sleep can cause serious health implications.
3. Lack of sleep makes you less functional
Getting even slightly less sleep than you need eventually makes you get tired easily. You notice that you’re always feeling stressed out. In addition to stress, sleep-deprived people tend to feel increasingly angry, sad, and mentally exhausted.
Sleep apnea causes daytime sleepiness and fatigue and may lead to conditions such as hypertension, ischemic heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep will have a significant negative impact on our health in the long and short term.
Next day effects of poor quality sleep include a negative impact on our attention span, memory recall and learning. Longer term effects are being studied, but poor quality sleep or sleep deprivation has been associated with significant health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, weakened immune systems and even some cancers
4. Sleep Helps Mental Health
Sleep is essential for good mental health. Consequently, sleep deprivation has a connection with depression and anxiety disorders. If you struggle with insomnia, try improving your sleep hygiene by powering down electronics, taking part in relaxing pre-sleep activities, and keeping your bedroom cool and dark. If you still can’t sleep, contact your healthcare provider.
5. Sleep Boosts the Immune System
Getting adequate rest can keep your immune system healthy. Restorative sleep is key, so figuring out just how much sleep you need individually is important.
6. Sleep Keeps Your Hormones in Check
Lack of sleep can throw the body’s hormones out of balance. Deep sleep is necessary for the release of growth and sex hormones. The release of these hormones helps with increased muscle mass, the ability to repair tissue and cells, puberty, fertility and the ability to fight infection
7. Sleep Suppresses Appetite and Helps Control Weight
If you struggle with constant cravings or have difficulty maintaining your weight, it could be due to sleep-deprivation. “Studies find that the less people sleep, the more likely they are to be overweight or obese and prefer eating foods that are higher in calories and carbohydrates,” the NIH reports.
8. Sleep Regulates Blood Sugar, Helps Blood Pressure and Reduces Inflammation
During sleep, blood sugar levels rise and fall naturally. Lack of sleep, or lack of deep sleep, impedes these natural highs and lows.
9. Sleep is a Natural Pain Killer
Most people don’t realize that sleep can affect sensitivity to pain. Getting plenty of rest can make aches and pains hurt less. This is good news for those suffering from migraine, chronic pain or monthly menstrual cramps.
10. Sleep Cleanses the Brain
Toxins build up in the brain just like the rest of the body. The brain shrinks during sleep to allow for fluid to enter and clean the mind. In fact, scientists have found that a brain that is given insufficient time to clean itself can lead to brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s.
11. Sleep Makes You Look Younger and Feel More Attractive
A study released on today by University Hospitals Case Medical centre. shows that people who don’t get enough sleep at night are more likely to have poorer skin health and skin that ages more quickly. This might be in part why many women who fail to get adequate rest report feeling unattractive because poor sleepers are more dissatisfied with their appearance than good sleepers. Sleep—or lack of it—affects men, women, and children of all ages.
What can you do to have healthy sleep?
Getting a good night’s sleep is what a lot of people want at the end of a long and hectic day. It’s important for you to establish healthy bedtime habits to ensure that you get a good night’s rest, which will then ensure you get a happier, healthier life. In addition, developing good bedtime habits ensures that your body gets the rest it needs, helps you better manage stress, and provides you with more energy during the day. Here are a few ideas for boosting sleep quality and sleep duration:
1. Establish a bedtime routine
Having a regular bedtime and sticking to it can train your body to get better sleep. That means getting up and going to sleep at around the same time every day even on weekends or when you’re on vacation.
This actually helps regulate your body clock and helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep for the rest of the night. This then optimizes the quality of your sleep. Keeping a schedule makes you feel more energized when you wake up.
Having a bedtime routine also prepares children for bed. This could be taking a bath and reading a book. The aim is to help them calm down before it is time to sleep.
2. Watch what you eat at night
Don’t consume foods or beverages that contain caffeine any later than mid-afternoon. That includes tea, soft drinks and chocolate.
Also, avoid eating late night foods or heavy meals. Eating late at night, especially if you overeat and/or eat heavy foods, and then lying down shortly after, is a recipe for acid reflux.
3. Digital Sunset
Our cell phones, tablets, computers and other electronic gadgets have become such a huge part of our daily lives that it’s often hard to put them down—even at bedtime. Whether you’re surfing the web, playing a video game, or using your phone as an alarm clock in the late evening, you’re probably keeping yourself from a restful night. The blue light emitted by screens on cell phones, computers, tablets, and televisions disturbs your circadian rhythm. – which is the natural 24-hour pattern the human body follows. The bright lights can stimulate your brain and make your brain think it is daylight which will then make sleep more difficult.
It is important to have a digital sunset at least 1 hour before sleep so that your body can prepare to sleep. Ensure that children submit their phones or tablets at a particular time every night before they go to bed. In addition, bedrooms should be technology-free zones.
This is one of the most helpful bedtime habits. Regular exercise promotes good quality sleep. As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise every day, like walking or cycling, is enough to improve the quality of sleep you get. This ensures that you get better sleep. It also makes sure you don’t feel sleepy during the day. In addition, regular exercise increases the amount of time you spend in the deep and restorative stages of sleep.
Working out in the morning or early afternoon is the best choice. If you exercise close to your bedtime, it can interfere with your sleep. Try to finish moderate to vigorous exercises at least 3 hours before bedtime. Also, soothing mind-body exercises are ideal as well to help promote good sleep.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t work in an instant. It can take several months before you see the benefits of regular exercise to your sleeping pattern. So no matter how hard it may be for you, just be patient and strive to stick to a regular exercise plan.
5. Make your room conducive for sleep
We tend the spend the most time in our bedrooms, so it should be a place that is conducive. You shouldn’t do some last-minute work on your bed or watch a bit of TV before bedtime. This makes it easier for your body to relax and unwind at night.
Make sure there are no disruptive noises that can be heard in your room. Many people sleep best in a slightly cool room with adequate ventilation. To avoid the disappointment of electricity failure, getting a rechargeable water fan that also allows you to put in water to have the effect of an Air Conditioner is a great option.
You also have to ensure you have comfortable beds and pillows. Beds and bedspreads should also be sleep-inducing. Children usually don’t like sleeping. In addition to having a bedtime routine, the room decoration also has to be inviting enough for children. This kiddies bedspread is an example.
If you have trouble sleeping, this could be due to a sleep disorder such as insomnia or sleep apnea. See a doctor if you have continued trouble sleeping. In some cases, your doctor may suggest trying an over-the-counter or prescription sleep aid. In other cases, your doctor may want you to do a sleep study, to help diagnose the problem.