Getting enough sleep is one of the cornerstones of good health. It’s just as important as eating well, exercising, and maintaining strong relationships. By establishing solid sleep habits, we can positively impact our immune system, bodily functions, and much more. Our doctors at Montes Medical always advise patients to build healthy and consistent sleeping habits at home.
Unfortunately, many Americans struggle to get the proper amount of sleep on a regular basis. Longer work hours, increasingly busy schedules, and digital technologies are a few factors pushing down the average sleep totals.
In fact, adults in the U.S report insufficient sleep for nearly half of each month. With so many things demanding our time and attention, sleep can tend to take a backseat when it comes to priorities.
For those looking to improve their overall health, sleep should always be a top priority. It can be tough to squeeze in the recommended hours sometimes, but it is worth it to make the effort.
How Much Sleep is Recommended?
For the average adult, sleep experts recommend somewhere between seven to nine hours of sleep every night; although this amount can vary based on the individual. Getting less than six hours of sleep on a regular basis can increase the risk of developing serious health issues, such as stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.
For children, the recommended hours of sleep are higher and vary depending on their age. Getting enough rest is essential for the proper brain development of infants and young children.
Here is a handy chart to see exactly how much sleep you and your family should be getting on a regular basis:
The Benefits of Getting Enough Sleep
There are so many incredible benefits to sleeping well on a regular basis. By allowing our bodies to rest properly, we can reduce our risks of developing serious illnesses. Conversely, insufficient sleep has been linked to numerous chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and depression. Paying attention to our sleeping habits is an easy way to fight back against these conditions.
Lower Body Weight
You may be surprised to learn that people with shorter sleep cycles tend to weigh a lot more than people who get enough sleep. This may be due to metabolic changes that occur when the body doesn’t get enough rest. Although a connection between weight gain and sleep has been found in all ages, it is particularly pronounced in children.
Sleep-deprivation also causes people to eat more calories than they normally would. This happens due to a disruption in appetite hormones and a weakened ability to regulate appetite. So if you’re looking to lose some weight and build a healthy metabolism, try to establish healthier sleeping habits!
Increased Concentration & Productivity Levels
It’s no secret that sleep is critical for a functioning brain. A fully rested mind is simply much better at thinking, focusing, performing well, and being productive.
Sometimes people think they are being productive when they stay up too late to work or study. Although it may seem counterintuitive, getting some shut-eye first can actually improve performance and retention much more than an all-nighter.
Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can lead to more mistakes and negatively impact brain function. A well-rested mind on the other hand is much better able to problem solve and remember important information.
Improved Immune Response
Getting a good night’s sleep can do wonders for our immune system. People who get enough quality sleep are much less likely to get sick after being exposed to viruses like the common cold. These people can also recover faster if they do in fact get sick.
Wondering how sleeping can boost immune response? When we sleep, our bodies produce and release proteins called cytokines. These are used to fight against infection and inflammation and protect our bodies from illnesses. If we don’t get enough rest, we cannot make as many cytokines. This can leave us vulnerable to viruses as our protection levels are decreased.
Sleep Quantity and Quality
As important as it is to get enough hours of sleep, it is equally important to get high-quality rest during that time. We want to make sure that our sleep hours are free from interruption and allowing us to fall deep into rest.
So what are some things we can do to boost sleep quality? Here are a few ideas:
Avoid Caffeine Later in the Day
Consuming caffeine six hours before bedtime can reduce sleep quality. To reduce the effects of caffeine on your sleep, try to avoid it later in the day.
Prepare for Sleep
Establishing a consistent bedtime routine can help signal to your brain that bedtime is coming up. Routines can include activities like reading a book, dimming lights after a certain time, and changing into pajamas. Furthermore, by sleeping and waking up at the same time, our bodies can fall into our scheduled time of rest more easily.
Exercise Earlier in the Day
Since exercise can trigger the stress hormone cortisol, it’s better to work out at least three hours or more before you go to sleep. Cortisol makes the brain more alert, which can make it harder to fall asleep. For this reason, try to work out a bit earlier in the day.
In conclusion, paying attention to our sleeping habits can pay off big time when it comes to improving overall health.
Try to focus on improving both your quantity and quality of sleep to ward off chronic diseases and improve cognitive function. If there are any children in your family, make sure they are sleeping even longer than you to ensure proper brain development throughout their childhood.
To make an appointment with our medical team please contact Montes Medical by clicking here.