With the recent attention focused on the importance of sleep by National Sleep Awareness Week, it seems appropriate to highlight some of the specific benefits provided by a good night’s sleep.
Did you know that getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep every night can have a significant, positive impact on your health? It’s true. A number of studies have revealed a connection between insufficient sleep and a variety of serious health problems, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Lack of sleep can also be a real pain – and that’s not just a figure of speech. More sleep may actually make you hurt less. Research has established a link between sleep loss and a lower threshold for pain. Getting a good night’s sleep can supplement pain medication and help reduce pain more effectively.
Poor sleep habits can increase the risk of injury from a wide range of causes. One of the most serious is drowsy driving. The Institute of Medicine estimates that one out of five car accidents annually – about one million crashes – are the result of drivers drifting off at the wheel. And if you’re groggy from lack of sleep, chances increase for clumsy accidents such as trips-and-falls, burns, and cuts from sharp tools such as saws and kitchen knives. A good night’s sleep helps you stay sharper overall, improving physical coordination, problem-solving, and decision-making.
That kind of fuzzy-headedness can also have a negative impact on your memory. Sleep enables our brains to organize, process, and consolidate memories created during the day. Without enough sleep, memories can get processed and stored incorrectly, leading to memory loss. Likewise, immunity can be negatively impacted by lack of sleep – individuals who get less than seven hours of sleep nightly are three times as likely to fall prey to cold viruses.
So if you want to stay healthy, get some sleep. Better yet, get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. A good night’s sleep gives your body the chance it needs to recharge, fight illness, and maintain an active, healthy lifestyle.
Talk with your primary care provider if you are having sleep difficulties.