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How Many Hours Of Sleep Do You Really Need?

How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Really Need?

Sleep is absolutely essential for your health.

However, when life gets busy, it’s often the first thing to get neglected or sacrificed.

This is unfortunate because good sleep is just as vital to good health as eating healthy foods or getting enough exercise.

Read on to learn why sleep is so important to your health and how much you should be getting each night.

It Is Fundamental to Good Health

Sleepy Young Woman in Bed Turing Alarm Off

Sleep is more than just a time for your body and mind to rest. In fact, while you’re asleep, your body is hard at work.

During this time, your body rebuilds muscles you’ve worn down during the day and cleans away harmful plaques and waste that are produced in the brain. These are vital processes that keep both your mind and body running properly (1).

Your mind also processes and responds to important emotions and experiences from the day and commits them to memory (2).

Sleep is also essential to regulating your emotions. In fact, being sleep deprived for just one night can increase your emotional response to negative feelings by 60% (2).

Not to mention, a lack of it makes it difficult for your body to regulate essential things like appetite control, your immune system, good metabolic function and your ability to maintain a normal body weight (3, 4).

Lastly, sleep plays an important role in regulating your circadian rhythm, or internal clock.

This inner clock runs on an approximately 24-hour schedule and regulates when you feel awake and sleepy. It may also help regulate things like metabolism, immune function and inflammation (5, 6).

Not sleeping long enough, sleeping at odd times of the day and exposure to bright light at night may throw off this inner clock and the many processes it regulates (6).

While you may think you’re getting ample rest, not all sleep is created equal. Not only is it important to get enough each night, but it’s also important to get good-quality sleep.

Nevertheless, there’s no universal definition for sleep quality.

However, it may be defined as how long it takes you to fall asleep, how often you wake up during the night, how rested you feel the next day or how much time you spend in different stages of sleep (7).

Because good sleep is necessary to so many aspects of good health, you should make getting enough each night a high priority.

Summary: Getting enough quality sleep is necessary for various reasons, including maintaining your immune system and metabolic function, processing the day’s memories and maintaining a normal body weight.

Not Prioritizing It Has Negative Health Consequences

Silver Alarm Clock

It’s estimated that nearly one-third of adults and two-thirds of high school students don’t get enough sleep each night (8).

Unfortunately, not getting enough good-quality sleep can cause much more harm than simply feeling tired.

If you’re sleep-deprived, you’re less capable of making good decisions, less creative and more likely to be involved in a car accident or die at an early age (8, 9).

This may be partially due to the fact that not getting enough sleep can harm your cognitive performance.

One study found that getting only five hours per night for several nights in a row decreases mental performance to the same extent as drinking enough alcohol to have a blood alcohol content of 0.06 (8).

As if that wasn’t enough, poor sleep can make you feel more negative, less productive and act less ethically at work (2, 8).

Even worse, getting poor quality or not enough sleep also increases your chances of developing…

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