We’ve all heard that we need a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night to stay healthy. But many of us wonder how important sleep really is? Well, it’s surely much more important than you think. Sleep is crucial for the optimal functioning of our body and for our health and well-being. Not getting enough sleep can seriously interfere with your health and can have serious consequences on the long run.
When we sleep our brain rests and takes its time to reboot and restart. It shifts through our memories, deleting unnecessary ones and making room for new ones. If our brain doesn’t get the necessary sleep during the night, our memory concentration, mood and creativity will be affected.
But it’s not just our brain that needs the sleep, every organ in our body benefits from it, which means that sleep deprivation can really be detrimental for our overall health.
How Insufficient Sleep Affects Our Body
Central Nervous System – sleep deprivation can have a negative effect our mood, concentration and memory. It can lead to paranoia, depression and even hallucinations.
Immune System – it makes our immune system weaker, which means you will be more prone to diseases, including diabetes and heart failure.
Respiratory System – insufficient sleep can aggravate existing conditions and increase your risk of developing respiratory infections, including the common cold and the flu.
Cardiovascular System – it has a negative effect on your blood sugar levels, blood pressure and increases the risk of inflammations.
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Digestive System – it can make you prone to weight fluctuations and increase your insulin levels. This can lead to increased diabetes risk.
Endocrine System – when it comes to sleep and the endocrine system, kids and teenagers have the most to fear. It interferes with growth hormones production.
Recommended Sleep Hours by the National Sleep Foundation
Most people believe that 8 hours per night is all you need to maintain optimal health. However, sleep hours depend on a person’s age, meaning some may need more while others a bit less.
Professor Czeisler conducted a study on this subject in order to see how many hours of sleep are needed for each age group. They also studied the effects of insufficient sleep on our mind and body and their findings were supported by the National Sleep Foundation.
Here are the guidelines we all need to follow:
- Babies from 0 to 3 moths should sleep 14 – 17 hours
- Babies from 4 to 11 months should sleep 12 – 15 hours
- Children aged 1 – 2-years should sleep 11 – 14 hours
- Children aged 3 – 5-years should sleep 10 – 13 hours
- Children aged 6 – 13-years should sleep 9 – 11 hours
- Teens aged 14 – 17-year should sleep 8 – 10 hours
- Youth aged 18 – 25-year should sleep 7 – 9 hours
- Adults aged 26 – 64-year should sleep 7 – 9 hours
- Seniors aged 65 years and older should sleep 7 – 8 hours
How to make up for lost sleep
It couldn’t be simpler, try to get more sleep. There’s no other way to make up for lost sleep. Don’t expect to compensate for it in a night or two, it will take much longer, especially if you haven’t had a decent night of sleep for months in a row. You may need a few weeks to recover, body and mind.
Try to sleep a few extra hours over the weekends for starters and start adjusting your time gradually according to your age. Try to avoid energy drinks and caffeine, they may have a detrimental effect on your sleeping.