March 6, 2023

Sleep Well

It feels so good to lie on a bed with my favorite pillow after a full day. There is something so refreshing about pulling the covers up to my chin and relaxing into the mattress as sleep overtakes my thoughts and my get-up-and-go. However, sometimes sleep is elusive. I toss and turn with loud ideas and little peace.

Sleep is essential for our physical and mental well-being. It is a time when our bodies can rest, recharge, and repair. In fact, sleep is when the greatest healing happens, which explains why we sleep so much when we have an illness or injury.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the amount of sleep a person requires depends on the individual’s age, health, lifestyle, and personal needs. But in general, the recommendations below are based on scientific evidence and research on the relationship between sleep and health.

• Adults (26-64 years): 7-9 hours

• Older adults (65+ years): 7-8 hours

• Teenagers (14-17 years); 8-10 hours

• Children (6-13 years): 9-11 hours

• Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours

• Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours

• Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours

• Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours

Here are some of the key benefits of getting enough sleep each night:

Improved Physical Health

Sleep helps regulate our hormones which supports our immune system impacting our overall health in several ways. For example, Melatonin regulates our sleep-wake cycle and helps us feel drowsy at night. It signals our bodies to prepare for sleep by raising its levels in the evening and lowering them in the morning. Growth hormone helps support tissue repair and growth. It is especially important for children and teenagers who are still growing. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is highest in the morning and lowest at night. Elevated levels of cortisol at night can disrupt sleep. Leptin and Ghrelin regulate our appetite and hunger. Lack of sleep can lead to imbalances in these hormones causing us to overeat and potentially gain weight.

Better Cognitive Function

Sleep is crucial for memory strengthening and learning. When we sleep, our brain is busy processing information learned during the day, which helps improve long-term memory and retain new knowledge and skills. Getting enough sleep also helps improve our attention and focus during the day. We have all experienced those disorganized, chaotic thoughts that come with a lack of sleep. A good night’s sleep also enhances our ability to think creatively, make sound decisions, retain information, and feel on top of it when awake.

Better Mood

Sleep directly impacts our mood and emotional regulation. For example, a good night’s rest helps us manage stress, control our levels of irritability, anxiety, and depression and improve our social skills creating better relationships. You can maintain a positive and healthy emotional state by prioritizing sleep and getting enough each night.

Improved Creativity

Sleep can enhance our ability to think creatively and problem-solve. While asleep, our brains process and consolidate information and memories obtained during the day. This activity generates connections between seemingly unrelated pieces of information and produces imaginative thinking and new ideas. Sleep also enables the subconscious to process information allowing unconscious insights to rise to the surface when awake. As well, when we are less tired, stress is reduced, making attention and focus sharper, which are central to engaging in creative activities, innovative thinking, and problem-solving.

Better Athletic Performance

Sleep is crucial for physical recovery and functioning and can significantly impact athletic performance—the body repairs and rebuilds muscle tissue when the body sleeps. Adequate sleep helps speed up physical activity recovery, reduce muscle soreness, and improve overall athletic performance. Increased energy levels, acute mental focus, and hormonal regulation are all a part of physical activity and are affected by sleep quality. By prioritizing sleep, athletes can improve their performance and achieve their goals.

In conclusion, sleep is important to our overall health and well-being. It allows our bodies to rest and recharge, improves our mood, and enhances our cognitive and athletic performance. So, prioritize sleep and get enough each night so you can enjoy the many benefits.