Though you may ask why sleep is so important, research shows that not getting enough of it can lead to weight gain!
Several studies have shown that not getting enough sleep or a decrease in sleep quality can affect appetite control and eventually lead to overeating. Lack of sleep has also been tied to a higher risk of diabetes as it causes decreased insulin sensitivity, conditions often linked with being overweight. In addition, sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss have also been linked to heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.
Our bodies are programmed for two natural periods of sleepiness during a 24-hour day, irrespective of the amount sleep we’ve had in the previous 24 hours. The primary period is between midnight and 7 a.m., and a second period occurs mid-afternoon, between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
How much should we sleep?
Sleep requirements vary from person to person and change throughout a person’s lifecycle.
- Newborns sleep up to 18 hours a day.
- Toddlers need 11 to 13 hours of sleep per night.
- Children up to the age of 12 need 10 to 11 hours.
- Adolescents need about 9 hours of sleep a night.
- Adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.
As we get older, we often get less sleep because our ability to sleep for long periods of time and get into the deep restful stages of sleep can decrease. In general, older people are more easily disturbed by light, noise, and pain, and may have medical conditions that contribute to sleep problems.
On average, we spend about two hours dreaming each night, or 20-25% of a night’s sleep. Nightmares occur more often during stressful periods and tend to be more common among children than adults.
In addition, lack of sleep causes blurred vision and can cause fatigue, irritability, and an inability to concentrate.
If a lack of sleep gets worse, it may lead to:
- Chronic Insomnia: when a person has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at least three nights a week for a month or longer. Acute insomnia can last for a few nights to a few weeks.
- Sleep apnoea: pauses in breathing while you sleep and may occur up to 30 times per hour. During sleep apnoea, carbon dioxide builds up in the bloodstream. Sleep apnoea occurs often in obese patients and is associated with several other diseases. If you feel tired during the day without any apparent reason, talk to your doctor about the possibility of sleep apnoea.
Quoting The Odyssey: “There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” Do not underestimate the power of sleep!
Adapted from http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders