Also, the authors of this study reported that “Reduced sleep duration has been linked to 7 of the 15 leading causes of death in the U.S., including cardiovascular disease, malignant neoplasm, cerebrovascular disease, accidents, diabetes, septicemia, and hypertension.”
According to this same article, lack of sleep has been shown to increase the risk of premature mortality, increased mood disorders, affects metabolic health, is linked to obesity and increased body mass index (BMI), can lead to burnout, and can impair active cognitive processes such as planning, coping, and problem-solving. (Hint hint, legal professionals!)
Has any of this caused you to pause and raise an eyebrow yet?
Just as we make a point of charging our phones at night before going to bed, we must do the same for our bodies. Sleep is fuel. Sufficient quality sleep can improve serotonin levels (the feel-good neurotransmitter in your brain). Are you trying to lose weight? Poor quality and quantity of sleep have been associated with a higher body mass index and weight gain. Because of the effects on your hormones, it can trigger unhealthy snacking, may reduce your metabolic rate, and cause you to be less energized so your physical activity levels drop.
Sleep is what our bodies need to recharge, and our bodies work hard while we are sleeping. We need to sleep to be alert and productive for the day ahead. Would you board a plane if you knew the pilot was sleep-deprived the night before? Probably not. Would you proceed with a surgical procedure if you knew the surgeon was sleep-deprived the night before? Probably not.
Yet, many of us are functioning sleepwalkers, chugging coffee and sugary energy drinks to supplement what our bodies and minds are craving—down time and quality sleep. Take some time and assess your nighttime routine. Aim to go to bed by 10 pm. Has anyone else’s parents ever told them that nothing good happens after midnight? There may be some truth to that!
Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function. Good sleep has been shown to improve problem-solving skills and enhance memory performance in both children and adults.
So How Much Sleep Do I Need?
How much sleep you need changes as you age. For example, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend that teenagers ages 13–18 should get 8–10 hours per night for sufficient sleep, yet adults 18–60 years old should get at least 7 hours per night: