Keeping our bodies healthy through proper eating and exercise is a given standard. But when you have a fast-paced lifestyle, we tend to forget one of the most basic needs of the body, sleep. Even if we all know that we need sleep to recuperate, most of us don't really give much importance to the quantity and quality of sleep we get.
Benefits of Adequate Sleep
Resistance to diseases and stress. Several university studies revealed that lack of regular sleep is highly linked with long-term health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and heart disease. Furthermore, lack of sleep has been noted to decrease the body's coping mechanism for stress.
Weight control. Researchers have concluded a strong relationship between lack of sleep and the rise of the obesity epidemic. Research at the University of Chicago in 2004 revealed that even partial lack of sleep actually could increase your appetite due to an increase in hunger hormones produced by the body. Therefore, sleep-deprived people tend to have more cravings and hunger pangs. In addition, poor sleep has been associated with an increase in the production of cortisol (stress hormone) and insulin, both of which are responsible for an increase in body fat storage and, subsequently, weight gain.
Increased healing capacity. Researchers at Harvard University found that sleep-deprived research subjects experienced slower injury healing times. Aside from that, they noted that lack of sleep actually increased inflammation.
How much sleep do we need?
Most experts agree that 7-8 hours of sleep is adequate for most adults and more is needed if you are less than 18 years of age. Furthermore, researchers add that you should honor a regular sleep/wake cycle to enhance your body's natural recuperating powers.
And, just in case you’re thinking of just paying back lost sleep on the weekend: researchers found that sleeping in excess of 8 hours may actually post harmful physical effects.