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Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep

By Andrew Hill       07/02/2018

By the time we’re done chauffeuring our children to and from school and extracurricular activities, finished a long day of work and come home to cook and clean, we’re exhausted. We lead busy lifestyles that never seem to have enough hours in the day to squeeze in everything we need to do, but are we compromising our health and sanity by cutting back on sleep just to get a few more items crossed off our list?

Beneficial for Both the Mind and Body

Some individuals think that sleeping is a waste of time, but it is extremely beneficial for improving the functions of your mind and body. A tired person may struggle to complete a task in an hour while a well-rested individual may be able to finish the same task in just 15 minutes, and individuals who get enough sleep are less likely to get sick with colds or the flu.

Getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep on a regular basis can help you to feel and perform your best. Chronic lack of sleep can take a toll on both your physical and mental health. If you’re struggling to fall or stay asleep each night, talk with your doctor to see if there may be an underlying reason for your restlessness, and keep in mind the importance of a good night’s rest.

The Reasons For Having Poor-Quality Sleep

Many adults sleep for only a few hours each night rather than the seven to nine hours recommended by sleep experts. But not only are many individuals getting five or less hours of sleep on a nightly basis, but we also know that many of those same individuals are experiencing poor-quality sleep for a variety of reasons that may include:

  • Having an uncomfortable mattress
  • Trying to sleep in a hot or cold bedroom
  • Having too much light in a bedroom
  • Trying to cope with loud or disruptive noises at night
  • Leaving electronics turned on while sleeping
  • Eating a large meal before bedtime
  • Thinking about stressful events
  • Drinking too much caffeine
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Taking certain types of medications
  • Lack of physical exercise
Lack of Sleep Affects Your Whole Household

When the adults of a household are not getting enough sleep or experiencing poor-quality sleep, it’s likely that children in the home may be facing the same problems. A major complaint from teachers is that students are often too tired to learn in school, causing students to fall asleep during class.

Infants and toddlers require 12 to 16 hours of sleep on a daily basis, and young children should sleep a minimum of 10 hours each night. Teenagers should try to sleep for at least nine hours. However, teenagers, like adults, tend to get less than the recommended number of hours of sleep during the week due to homework and other activities but try to catch up on their missed sleep on the weekends.

Lack of Sleep Can Lead to Serious Health Problems

While some individuals may not think that getting enough sleep is important, the lack of sleep on a regular basis can have serious health consequences. Physical, mental and emotional health can all be affected by a long-term lack of restful sleep. Here are some of the ramifications that can come from not sleeping enough:

  • A reduction in immunity levels
  • Lack of mental clarity and focus
  • Falling asleep while driving
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Loss of cognitive functions
  • Declining memory
  • Clumsiness
  • Vision abnormalities
  • Depression
  • Aging skin and organs
  • Gaining weight
  • Strokes

Some of these effects caused by lack of restful sleep can be easily overcome by changing or limiting bad habits such as smoking cigarettes or eating a large meal before bedtime. However, we know that chronic lack of sleep can have long-term health effects, including causing abnormal blood pressure or insulin levels.

Lack of High-quality Sleep on a Regular Basis

There are a wide variety of reasons as to why someone might be having trouble falling or staying asleep. Individuals may choose to undergo a sleeping test to determine if there is an underlying cause for not sleeping enough each night such as a neurological or sleep disorder. Some of the most common reasons why an individual is unable to sleep or has poor-quality sleep cycles include:

  • Delayed sleep phase disorder
  • Nightmare disorders
  • A rapid eye movement sleep disorder
  • Sleep apnea
  • Bedwetting or nocturia
  • Sleepwalking
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Bruxism
  • Narcolepsy
  • A circadian rhythm disorder
  • Sleep paralysis
  • Insomnia
  • Exploding head syndrome
  • Mood disorders
  • Addiction to drugs or alcohol

In order to determine if an individual has one or more underlying health conditions that are leading to no sleep or restless sleep, it is important to visit a physician or sleep disorder specialist.

Improving Your Sleep Habits

It is possible to improve sleeping patterns to get enough restful sleep each night, but it requires making changes in your home and to your nighttime habits or seeking special treatment. Experts suggest that by making these changes, you will be more likely to sleep better and longer on a nightly basis:

  • Replace old sagging mattresses and box springs
  • Consume a nutritious diet throughout the day
  • Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages such as coffee or soft drinks
  • Sleep in a dark bedroom
  • Turn off televisions and computers
  • Use sound machines to muffle loud noises
  • Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature
  • Stop smoking cigarettes
  • Have a regular sleeping schedule
  • Use a breathing machine for sleep apnea
  • Exercise several times a week
  • Treat underlying conditions such as bruxism or nocturia
  • Lose weight
  • Get sunlight during the day
  • Take soothing hot baths with aromatic essential oils
  • Have massages to help with sleeping
  • Sleep in the same bedroom each night