Our diet and exercise are certainly important for good health, but did you know that sleep plays a big role in it as well? According to the CDC, lack of sleep is an epidemic that’s destroying our lives. Millions of people suffer from sleeping problems and insufficient sleep has been linked to a slew of health problems.
Several hundred studies have reviewed such links and found that the optimal sleeping time for most adults is 8 hours. Anything less than that is linked to serious health problems, yet over 40% of Americans are sleep deprived. Polls have shown that most people sleep around 5 hours every night which results in weight gain, digestive problems, reduced libido, and numerous mental issues too.
Sleep plays a major role in memory formation, brain development, a healthy libido, and our overall wellbeing. Sleeping less than the recommended time can be the reason why you’re simply not able to drop weight. It’s also a major factor in memory loss which is often caused by conditions such as sleep apnea.
Doctors believe that lack of sleep is a big factor for several other diseases and conditions. Don’t believe the claims? Start sleeping for 8 hours every night by going to bed early and see where you are in a month. The benefits are massive.
Poor Sleep Has Been Linked to Depression
Studies have shown that lack of sleep is linked to depression and a higher risk of accidents. Drowsy drivers are much more likely to cause car accidents which can have fatal repercussions. A single night of sleeping 5-6 hours will affect how you think the next day, making you unproductive at work and risky behind the wheel.
Insomnia is the leading sleep condition that affects around 20 million Americans. It has been linked to depression for a long time, with science believing that insomnia was a symptom of depression. After decades of research, it is now clear that insomnia comes before it. Doctors have already tried the effects of sleep therapy for depressive patients and more than 70% have responded positively.
Lack of sleep seems to impact our lives in many ways including depression. Since lack of sleep prevents us from integrating memories and imagining possible futures, it might also play a large role in the development of depression.
Sleep and Its Role in Memory Formation
Robert Stickgold, director at the Center for Sleep and Cognition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, says that sleeping is essential for cementing long-term memory events. When we sleep, our brain literally ‘extracts’ what we’ve seen during the day and forms memories of it. It extracts the meaning of things and helps us gain insight on them.
Dreaming plays a role in this too. It’s like a predictive marker for forming memories which indicates that our brain is one the right track of accomplishing the task. When we dream, our brain processes information at multiple levels. Dreaming engages the brain in full, forming old and new memories and imagining possible futures.
By sleeping properly and dreaming, you’re allowing your brain to show you the meaning of life.
Lack of Sleep Leads to Higher Calorie Consumption
According to recent research, lack of sleep also plays an important role in our health on a physical level. Lack of proper sleep overnight results in increased calorie consumption during the day which results in weight loss.
The impaired eating pattern is what plagues millions of Americans with weight gain. The reason for it has been right in front of our noses – it’s all because of lack of sleep. A proper night of sleep leads to improved insulin and leptin sensitivity, which effectively regulate our satiety. Eating close to sleep time can harm the function of our mitochondria which raises the risk of DNA mutations.
This is exactly why trainers and scientists don’t recommend eating close to bedtime and why you should stick to a strict eating schedule.
Long-Term Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Serious Problems
Regardless of the cause, long-term sleep deprivation is one of the leading causes for numerous health problems. Here’s what damage it can cause in the long run:
- Higher risk of cardiovascular diseases: if you sleep for less than 8 hours for years, the risk of cardiovascular diseases jumps up sky-high. In one study, adults who slept less than 5 hours for decades had 50% higher coronary calcium levels than those who slept at least 7 hours which is a major sign of impending heart disease.
- Higher risk of diabetes: since sleeping regulates our insulin production, lack of it can raise the risk of diabetes. According to one study, people who sleep less than 8 hours have an almost 60% higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Impaired immune system function: deep sleep plays a big role in how our immune system works. It helps the immune system ‘remember’ previously encountered pathogens which helps its response the next time it’s under attack. To put it simply, proper sleep helps your immune system fight pathogens more effectively.
Sleeping is the Key to Our Health
As you can see, sleeping properly is one of the keys to proper long-term health. While you may think of yourself as a night bird who doesn’t need to sleep as much as others, you may be suffering from insomnia that can impact your health negatively in the long run.
Make the change right now before it’s too late. Start sleeping for 8 hours every day and you’ll notice the positive changes right away.