Why We Need Sleep

Why We Need Sleep | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Sleep plays an integral role in our overall health and wellbeing. It not only helps repair and restore things like our immune system, muscles and other hormones, but it also plays a crucial role in our memory – such as retaining information, and even has an impact on our mood. Without sleep, you are likely to feel fatigued and irritable the next day, have poor job (or school) performance, and you also put yourself at an increased risk of things like motor vehicle accidents, which can have severe and sometimes even deadly consequences. While there is still a lot to be learned about the benefits of sleep, one thing is certain – and it’s that we can’t survive without it.

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

Though the average sleep range is 7 to 8 hours, how much sleep you need, specifically, can also depend on your age. For example, those between ages 18 to over the age of 65 are suggested to get anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep – while sleep range for teenagers between the ages of 14 to 17 is widened by a few hours, with healthcare professionals recommending those in that age group get anywhere from 8 to 10 hours of sleep. However, in today’s world, it can be much more difficult for teenagers to get the required amount of sleep that they need – especially with things like technology, after-school activities (such as social gatherings or sports groups) as well as homework being the focal point of many teenagers’ lives.

How is My Health Impacted by Sleep or Lack thereof?

Aside from the previously aforementioned reasons (i.e. mood, memory problems and fatigue), your health can be impacted by sleep in a variety of other ways. Lack of sleep can also put you at risk of heart problems (including heart disease, heart failure and heart attack, as well as having an irregular heartbeat), stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Sleep specialists also found that lack of sleep can cause problems in relationships (i.e. more fighting, decreased libidos, etc.)

What Am I Having Trouble Sleeping?

In many cases, having difficulty sleeping is caused by distractions (i.e. watching TV late at night or spending too much time on your computer or smartphone.) However, in other cases, lack of sleep can also be a very real health problem known as insomnia, which is a chronic sleep condition that can be exacerbated by mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression – and can even make these conditions worse.

How Can I Get a Better Night’s Rest?

You can often help yourself get a better night’s rest by setting a disciplined routine and avoid use of things like smartphones, computers and televisions at least 2 hours before bedtime. You can also try breaking other before-bed habits, such as avoiding drinking caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco use during the day and late at night. Exercise can help you get a better night’s rest, too, but make sure you aren’t exercising before going to sleep as this could actually keep you up at night. In the event that you suffer from insomnia, you may need additional help into making the aforementioned lifestyle changes, such as medication. If you are sleeping but find yourself waking up feeling like you’ve gotten no sleep at all, then you could possibly have a condition known as sleep apnea, which is something you can be tested for by wearing a device for 24-hours that records your breathing, heart rate, etc. If it is confirmed that you do have sleep apnea, you may require the use of a CPAP machine, which helps deliver you constant and steady air pressure as you are sleeping.