Sleep has been defined in many different ways. However, sleep is a condition of a person’s body and mind in which the nervous system is inactive. A person’s eyes are closed, muscles are relaxed, and a person’s consciousness is almost non-extinct.
We all know how important sleep is to feel good the following day but a good night’s sleep is also important for better health, too. Many only get six to seven hours of sleep a night; some get less, and that can cause physical and mental problems the following day.
Why do we need at least eight hours of sleep at night?
Eight hours of sleep is necessary and important; especially if we want to maintain and not gain weight. When we get less than eight hours of sleep, it can lead to midday munching, as well as eating during the night. Sleep deprivation makes the brain think that it needs food. Why? Maybe there is a need for a different energy source when sleep isn’t enough. But it’s not healthy to eat more than you need to, and it won’t stop you from feeling tired. Sleeping can help you heal. It also helps how you feel, to think better, and to better adjust to situations that usually cause stress. It’s important, is what we’re trying to get across here.
Decision-making abilities are better with more sleep.
To be clear, if you are struggling to stay awake and do what is necessary during the day, your judgment may not be at its best. Sleep deficiency often causes us to put aside rational reasoning and instead, make impulsive decisions. Lack of sleep often makes us feel more emotional, more agitated because we just don’t have what we need to make good decisions.
Anxiety worsens with less sleep.
Research has shown that when a person is lacking proper sleep, the brain actually is similar to a person who is psychologically impaired; especially when faced with negative or stressful situations. When the brain is in deep REM sleep; however, the brain is able to calm emotional feelings and refresh the mind. Actually, your brain, during a full night’s sleep, can sort out all the emotions that it endured from the previous day.
Your immune sleep also needs sleep.
Most importantly, you need a full night’s sleep so that your immune system gets a reboot. Your immune system needs those extra hours so it can fight off infections. Without proper sleep, your immune system weakens, and that can usher in viruses and infections. There are many changes you can make to help you sleep.
Blood sugar needs to be stabilized, and adequate sleep is needed to lower your risk of disease. Those who only get five to six hours of sleep often have higher cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Heart problems, diabetes, and obesity are other diseases that can occur for those who get inadequate hours of sleep.
Motor skills are also affected.
Sleep is important for memory and mental learning, but it is also important for learning motor skills; especially important if you are trying to learn how to perfect your tennis skills or learn how to paint.
Poor sleep can put you at risk for breast cancer, diabetes and can be a predictor of death. Working out and eating salads throughout the week are good but if you are not getting enough sleep, you may want to look carefully at your routine and make some adjustments.
Sleep affects our sex lives.
Our sex lives also suffer when we lose sleep. Research shows that when you are unable to get a good night’s sleep, you are less likely to want to have sex. Poor sleep in men has also been associated with lower testosterone levels.
Getting adequate sleep is also essential if you suffer from chronic pain. Getting at least six to eight hours of sleep may lessen chronic pain. Studies have been conducted which show that there is a link between sleep loss and a lower pain threshold. In addition, research also shows that getting adequate sleep can actually act as a supplement medication for pain. There are also medications that combine a pain reliever with a sleep aid.
Also, getting enough sleep affects your emotions. Of course, a good night sleep won’t guarantee a positive mental state; however, when you are well rested, you are less likely to snap at your spouse or burst into tears without reason.
How you think is also affected by sleep.
Sleeping well can also affect how you think. Studies have shown that sleep loss hinders your thinking, your attention span and how you make decisions. Sleep loss also makes you more prone to make strange mistakes like leaving your wallet or purse in the car when you should have brought it in your home.
Changes you can make that will help.
If you are struggling to get better sleep, don’t give up. There are many changes you can make that will enable you to get better sleep such as waking up at the same time each day. In addition, eliminate alcohol and stimulants like caffeine. There are some medications that stimulate the brain such as decongestants. Find out from your doctor when to take them; if they are taken close to bedtime, it could interfere with your sleeping.
Another change that may help is to limit your naps. If you nap, nap before three in the afternoon and nap for only 15-20 minutes. Long naps can adversely affect your sleeping.
Exercising regularly is also beneficial for good sleep. Keep your bed only for sleeping and sex. Keep activities like phone calls and studying in the afternoon. These activities can stimulate your brain and make it hard to sleep.
Eating or drinking right before you go to bed can keep you up; it can stir up your digestive system and cause heartburn. If you must have something to eat, have a cup of warm milk or a cup of chamomile tea. Drink these beverages several hours before going to bed.
Make your bedroom as comfortable, cool and quiet as possible.
Another action that will help is to make your bedroom comfortable and inviting. Keep your bedroom cool, quiet and free of any intrusive light. In addition, if you lay in bed at night thinking about what may be coming up the following day, set aside some time during the day to make plans for the next day. This may keep your brain from trying to solve potential problems that may not even occur the following day.
If something is worrying you, write it down on a piece of paper and then put the paper away. Let those worrying thoughts be on the paper and not on your mind. The following day, pick up the paper and then decide how you want to handle that problem.
Another action that may help with better sleep is cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy works well for some because it helps to identify and change thoughts and beliefs that are keeping you awake; however, cognitive therapy takes time and effort, but if you stay with it, the rewards can be wonderful.
To conclude, a full eight hours of sleep is vital for your physical and mental well-being. The reasons for a good night’s sleep are many; some of those reasons have been covered in this article. Talk to your doctor soon and find out other ways to get a good night’s sleep.
Disclaimer – The views and opinions mentioned here are the writers’ own thoughts or based on the talks held with some of the professionals of respective fields. Never consider the tips or ideas mentioned on Stay Young & Healthy as a substitute for physician’s advice. At Stay Young & Healthy, we strongly advise you to consult your doctor for more details.