While there are plenty of serious health issues that get a lot of press, there’s not a lot of “buzz” about one of the most dangerous and insidious health epidemics threatening hundreds of millions of people worldwide – an epidemic that affects over 35% of the United States according to the American CDC.
Where talking of course about the importance of sleep and how few people are getting on our feature and every night as well as how disastrous this lack of sleep is when it comes to our short and long-term health prospects.
That same American CDC report suggesting that 35% of Americans are contending with a sleep deprivation epidemic also shows that the average amount of sleep Americans are getting has rapidly declined over the last 60+ years.
In 1942, your average American was getting at least 7.9 hours of sleep every single night. Today – in 2019 – your average American is getting just under 6.5 hours of sleep each night. Worse, this number continues to trend downwards on a regular basis.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information recently published a report showing that 40% of people between the ages of 40 years old and 59 years old are getting less than the recommended amount of sleep and that it is negatively impacting their health and wellness. 20% of teenagers are getting less than five hours of sleep, and fully 35% of adults are getting less than seven hours each night.
The importance of rest and sleep is often going overlooked.
We continue to burn the candle at both ends, wearing ourselves out, and never really realizing the myriad of health benefits of sleep any positive effects of getting enough sleep each and every night – as well as the negative impact not getting enough sleep as on our health and wellness.
Health Benefits of Sleep
We instinctively know that sleep is important, but not all of us know why is sleep necessary for good health and mental acuity.
There are certainly people out there that don’t really understand how is sleep good for your health on a fundamental level, that’s for sure.
Below you’ll find information that really digs deep into the health benefits and importance of sleep. These are the things you want to think about when you continue to push your body past your natural “redline” and aren’t getting enough sleep on a consistent basis – setting yourself up for failure (and horrific health impacts) along the way.
The odds are pretty good that you’ve had more than a couple of days where you have woken up on the wrong side of the bed after not getting enough sleep and just felt like the day was going to be a real uphill battle – and maybe you weren’t the most agreeable person because you were tired, too.
The reality is our sleep (or lack thereof) has a huge impact on how we feel, how we interact with others, and how we modulate our mood. When you are wiped out your brain is really taxed and over fatigued confusion and frustration sets in, and it isn’t at all uncommon to feel more aggressive, more agitated, and generally more confrontational in this state.
When you have enough sleep each night your mood evens out considerably and you don’t have these wild mood swings or aggressive feelings nearly as much.
A number of sleep studies conducted by independent researchers in the United States (published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry) have conclusively shown a link lean getting plenty of sleep and improvements to overall concentration, productivity, and brain cognition in general.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that getting plenty of rest allows you to be more productive. We’ve all felt that intuitively when we looked at our productivity while rested as well as while we warrant and then compare the two. But it’s nice to see science really quantify these benefits as well.
The CDC also reports that individuals getting plenty of sleep each night are able to better modulate their overall blood pressure levels, giving their body time to reset these blood pressure levels while they are asleep – helping to reduce heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases and disorders.
Boosted Emotional Intelligence
Folks not getting enough sleep regularly report having difficulty “dealing with people”, recognizing subtle social cues, and picking up on nonverbal communication that they would have otherwise been able to handle perfectly when they were well rested.
The Journal of Sleep Research dove deep into this topic a few years ago, showing that even things like overall empathy levels are negatively impacted when folks aren’t getting enough sleep – but that they rebound as soon as people start to sleep more.
Fights Back Depression and Anxiety
There’s been a scientific link between sleep patterns and mental health for decades, a link understood by modern medicine and researchers alike, but recently even more studies have been conducted to better understand the impact that sleep (or a lack thereof) has on a number of serious and even potentially life-threatening mental health issues.
Insomnia in particular has been linked to issues like depression, anxiety, and even suicide. Getting more sleep helps to armor your body and your brain against these kinds of attacks, allowing your body to flush the biochemicals and hormones that can be contributing negatively to depression and anxiety while giving you a break from the feedback loops that feed into these kinds of negative thoughts as well.
Helps Calm Down Inflammation
Researchers in the United Kingdom have published a paper showing that there may be a link between sleep deprivation and inflammatory medical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.
It’s no secret that the body uses sleep to rest, recover, and repair key parts of the bodily system – and it’s no secret that the body is always looking for ways to reduce inflammation wherever it may manifest.
More research is obviously necessary to better understand the link between sleep and calling down of inflammation, but it’s an exciting new avenue of approach that scientists are digging into.
Recharges Your Immune System
Your immune system is given a lot of support while you are asleep, and mountains of research show that higher sleep quality (and more sleep each night) actually helps your body fight back against bacterial and viral infections.
Scientists and medical experts still don’t fully understand the exact mechanisms behind how sleep positively impacts the immune system.
At the same time, though, they do recognize that there’s an obvious and clear link between plenty of sleep and a boosted immune system – and right now that’s more than enough for them to recommend that getting more sleep helps to armor you from immune system attacks.
The Wrap Up
It may not always be possible to sink 8 hours of your day – every day – into getting high quality sleep.
Our modern world is more fast paced and stress packed than ever before, and there may be nights where it’s just unrealistic to shoot for this kind of quality time tucked into bed.
At the same time, you should always be shooting to get as much high quality sleep each night no matter what.
The reasons behind why is sleep good for you have been covered in detail above. There are no secrets now, no mysteries. The health benefits are real – and tangible – and you should be doing everything you can to get the best sleep possible each time you lay your head down on your pillow.
Why is it important to get sleep each night?
Because it impacts every aspect of your health and wellness in the short and long term. That’s why.