How Long Should I Sleep?

Question:

Most of the time I stay up late and do thing I love because I work the whole day and don’t get a chance to relax. Is sleeping less bad for my health?

Answer:

Yes! Sleep is a crucial function that allows your body to continue thriving. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) actually classifies insufficient sleep as a public health epidemic, as it’s crucial for virtually every tissue and organ in your body. It’s during sleep that metabolic waste products are eliminated from your brain, and it’s thought that insufficient sleep may actually injure your brain cells, impacting your cognition. Recent studies show just how dangerous sleep deprivation really is. The following are just a few of the more recent studies on this topic:

  • People who reported sleeping less each night were found to have swelling in a region of their brain that is predictive of more rapid cognitive decline.
  • Older men who sleep poorly are more likely to face subsequent cognitive decline.
  • Older adults who sleep less than six hours or more than eight hours per night, on average, have lower brain function scores.
  • People with chronic sleep problems may develop Alzheimer’s disease sooner than those who sleep well.
  • Interrupted sleep may be as harmful as no sleep at all—just one night of interrupted sleep was found to be enough to wreak havoc on mood and energy levels.

If you have insomnia, it may take some time before you notice any benefits from exercise. A study from Northwestern University found that working out once is not enough to improve sleep—you have to sustain your fitness routine for a number of weeks to months. Sleep science also makes it clear that you can’t “catch up” on sleep over the weekend—that is, it doesn’t prevent the damage. So you must take steps to ensure that you sleep well every night.

To determine whether or not you’re getting enough sleep, assess the quality of your waking day. If your energy is steady and rhythmic through the day, you’re probably getting plenty of good quality sleep. Make sure you’re going to bed early enough, and that your bedroom is dark, quiet, cool, and free of electromagnetic currents.

 


References

 

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