It’s undeniable… sleep is a key part of a healthy, joyful life.
In fact, having good sleep hygiene is just as important as exercise and nutrition.
However, the importance of sleep is often overlooked, misunderstood, or neglected altogether!
That’s partly because modern life simply doesn’t make it easy on us.
Are you permanently plugged into the internet or your phone? You’re not alone!
Unfortunately, electronic devices are proven to disrupt sleep, and that’s just one of many modern-day sleep obstacles.
Let’s take a closer look at what quality sleep really looks like.
What Is Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is the habits and practices that support a good night’s sleep.
It includes daily routines and a sleeping environment that promotes uninterrupted, consistent sleep.
Paying attention to sleep hygiene is one of the simplest ways to improve your overall health.
Poor sleep hygiene, on the other hand, is linked to a higher risk of medical conditions like (3)
High blood pressure
Type 2 diabetes, strokes
Poor mental health
…and even early death!
We all have our unique sleep needs, which is why you should always tailor your own sleep hygiene practices.
Healthy Sleep Habits for a Happy Life
Having a good night’s sleep consists of two parts: sleep quantity and sleep quality!
When it comes to quantity, the ideal amount differs quite a bit from person to person and changes as you age.
According to Harvard Health, 8 hours seems to do the trick for people ages 18-64. (1)
Teenagers, on the other hand, need an hour or two extra at roughly 9.5 hours, while young kids and infants need even more.
No matter how much sleep you get, what’s most important is that it’s uninterrupted.
A quiet, dark environment can help you sleep through the night without interruption.
And of course, try not to drink too much water before bed to avoid midnight bathroom breaks!
Sleep quality is a little more difficult to get right…
According to sleep experts, there is no one true definition of what quality sleep looks like. (2)
However, there are a few high-quality sleep indicators which the vast majority of sleepers seem to benefit from, including:
A consistent sleep-wake schedule
Your bed and bedroom should be comfy, cozy, and not too hot
It needs to be a quiet, peaceful, and safe space
Pre-bed routines, like taking a warm shower or reading a book
Keep your daytime naps short (under 20-30 minutes)
Overall healthy lifestyle choices throughout the day
Top 5 Health Benefits of Sleep
Sleep is when your body and brain recharge, repair and prepare for the following day.
The better you sleep, the more you’ll be able to get done and the more fun you’ll have.
Life is beautiful! Here’s how sleep helps you make the most of it.
1. Productivity & Concentration
We all know the awful feeling of waking up tired after a poor night’s sleep. What a terrible way to start the day!
No matter how hard you try, everything feels like a struggle.
As it turns out, there’s a deep connection between sleep and your mental capabilities.
For example, one recent study concluded that sleep is linked to the following brain functions: (4)
At the same time, a separate study from the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry found that sleep patterns have a direct effect on academic performance and behavior in children. (5)
2. Weight Management
Some research suggests that there might be a link between poor sleep quality and negative changes in your metabolism. (6)
In other words, poor sleep can make it easier to gain weight.
On one hand, the less sleep you get, the more tired you are and the less likely you are to exercise.
Plus, adults who sleep less than 4 hours a night have higher levels of appetite and hunger, especially for high-calorie foods.
What’s going on in the body to trigger food cravings?
As it turns out, sleep affects the hormones which regulate hunger.
So if you sleep poorly, don’t be surprised if you exercise less and eat more.
It’s the perfect recipe for weight gain!
3. Better Physical Performance
While the average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep, athletes require as much as 10 hours. (7)
That’s because your body needs more time to repair the wear and tear.
In fact, sleep is just as important for muscles repair as consuming the right nutrients, like amino acids and protein
As you sleep, your body heals and rejuvenates throughout the night.
When you wake up, you’ll have more energy and better physical performance.
You’ll be more coordinated, less likely to get injured, and be able to work out faster and harder.
4. Decreased Risk of Heart Disease
Sleep is great for the heart: one of the most important organs for health and longevity.
It’s what powers the body and ensures that all of the other organs are functioning in tip-top shape.
One of the main risk factors of heart disease is high blood pressure.
Fortunately, quality sleep allows the body to regulate blood pressure and preserve the heart. (8)
During deep sleep, the heart rate slows down, breathing stabilizes and blood pressure drops.
When you don’t spend enough time in deep sleep, the heart doesn’t have a chance to properly recharge.
Ultimately, that’s bad-news-bears for your body and mind!
5. Stronger Immunity
Trying to avoid those pesky viruses? As it turns out, sleep is key for strengthening immunity.
Research shows that better sleep quality is linked to the body’s ability to fight off infections. (9)
Say you had a cold and go see the doctor… what’s the one thing they always prescribe?
You guessed it… plenty of sleep!
When you catch those much-needed Zs, you produce more immune cells to fight off whatever is ailing you.
The Moral of the Story: Never Overlook the Importance of Sleep!
The bottom line is, quality sleep will always be one of the most important aspects of a healthy life.
Sleep nurtures and restores the body. It gives you more energy to enjoy the day and protects you from illness.
Good sleep hygiene starts with healthy daytime habits, like avoiding caffeine and getting plenty of exercises.
As bedtime approaches, try to put down your phone and pick up a book instead. It will work wonders for your sleep!
If you have any more questions about the importance of sleep, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re more than happy to answer any questions you may have.