HealthONE - December 06, 2017

How would you like to drop a few pounds, be able to exercise more, sharpen your mind and have more energy? The benefits of good sleep can reduce your risk of serious illness from everything like diabetes to cancer to heart disease. All you have to do to improve your general wellness is make one small change in your daily life. Just get a little more sleep tonight.

Habitual sleeplessness, or insomnia, is a real problem for over 40 million Americans who total less than six hours of sleep at night. Before rockstar Prince's unfortunate death, it was reported that he stayed awake for approximately 154 hours straight while composing songs. This underlines the extreme importance of sleep and your health. Always try to get the appropriate amount of sleep your body needs instead of trying to rush your way through life.

Here are some of the benefits of good sleep that you miss if you suffer from insomnia or try to get by on six or less hours of sleep each night:

Cleaner arteries and a healthier heart

According to a recent Swedish study, poor sleep habits will increase your risk for heart attacks and other related cardiovascular diseases by 30-40 percent. In addition, another recent study of over 2,000 people from Finland found that people who slept less also had lower levels of HDLs, the beneficial type of cholesterol that cleans away harmful fats.

Improved blood sugar

Your sleep habits could be critical in stabilizing blood sugar. In two different studies, the amount of sleep people get combined with the quality of their sleep had a great influence on their risk of developing diabetes. In fact, their sleep quality had as much as a threefold drop in their risk of becoming a type 2 diabetic with an appropriate amount of sleep.

Easier management of chronic pain

With individuals over 50 years of age, sleep loss is especially associated with chronic pain. Sleeping the appropriate amount helps them to reduce the need for pain medications.

A smarter immune system

Sleeping helps your immune system create long-term memories so it can easily identify and attack invading bacteria and other viruses in the future, shows a recent German study.

Better mental focus and creativity

A recent Australian study shows that if you improve sleep quality, you are able to accomplish things easier with a laser-like focus, from performing well at work to playing a piano to following a complex recipe. Bedtime is also a great time for your brain to make innovative connections between information and your own life experiences.

Getting a good night's sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health. You can make a dramatic difference for your heart and brain by sleeping a full seven hours a night.

The Center for Disease Control published research recommendations for sleep and your health. Here are the various sleep needs for nine specific age ranges:

  • 0-3 months (newborns): 14-17 hours
  • 4-11 months (infants): 12-15 hours
  • 1-2 years (toddlers): 11-14 hours
  • 3-5 years (preschool children): 10-13 hours
  • 6-13 years (school-age children): 9-11 hours
  • 14-17 years (teenagers): 8-10 hours
  • 18-25 years (young adults): 7-9 hours
  • 26-64 years (adults): 7-9 hours
  • 65+ years (older adults): 7-8 hours

Maybe Goldilocks was onto something? It is really important to find what's right for you when it comes to your sleep (most likely, somewhere between seven to nine hours per night). You should be enjoying all the benefits of a good night's sleep. But be careful not to get too much sleep. If oversleeping is an issue, and you have difficulty staying awake during the daytime, consult with a doctor to find out if there is something other than spending time with Mr. Sandman to blame.

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