The story at a glance
- Sleeping between 7 and 8 hours a night can reduce the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease, said a sleep expert at Weill Cornell Medicine.
- Research shows that lack of sleep can also harm a person’s immune system.
- A lack of sleep has also been shown to impact people’s judgment.
Everyone knows the restorative power of a good night’s sleep, and experts say getting around eight hours of sleep is a great way to take care of your overall health.
But sometimes even a few hours of good sleep can seem impossible, especially in certain age groups. A Gallup poll released this spring found that nearly 40% of people aged 18 to 49 said they slept “fairly” or “poorly” each night.
But getting a good sleep for at least seven hours a night should be a priority for everyone, and here are a few reasons why:
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1. Reduce the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease
Much remains to be learned about the impact of sleep on human health, according to Dr. Matthew Ebben, professor of psychology and clinical neurology specializing in sleep medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York.
But what experts do know is that sleeping too little or too much, or more specifically less than five hours or more than nine hours, can increase the risk of developing certain chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even heart disease. obesity.
2. Maintain a healthy weight
There is growing evidence to support the idea that people who sleep less than seven or eight hours a night are more likely to gain weight than those who do.
One of the potential reasons behind this is that sleep deprivation can trigger hormones in the brain used to signal hunger and satiety, leading to overeating.
The Nurses’ Health Study is one of the largest and longest studies on the relationship between sleep and weight in adulthood.
Researchers followed 68,000 women over the age of 65 in the United States for 16 years and analyzed their sleep patterns. The authors found that women who slept five hours or less per night were 15% more likely to become obese over the decade and a half the study was conducted compared to women who slept seven hours per night.
3. Boost your immune system
A lack of sleep can weaken a person’s immune system, making them more susceptible to contracting infectious diseases.
And a good night’s rest has been shown to boost a type of immune cell in the body called a T cell.
In fact, studies show that not getting enough sleep before and after receiving a vaccination can lead to a weaker immune response, which could impact vaccine protection, according to the National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit organization that strives to raise awareness about sleep and sleep disorders.
4. Improve brain performance
According to Ebben, sleeping between six and eight hours per night will make people feel more rested, have better reaction times and better judgment in general.
Research shows that people who are sleep deprived engage in riskier behaviors than those who aren’t.
A 2018 study found that high school students who reported getting less than six hours of sleep per night were twice as likely to admit to using alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs or to report driving afterwards. to have drank.
“When you look at brain connections, we know that people who have more variability in their sleep, people who sleep less tend to have less logical thinking,” Ebben said. “The connections to their emotional areas are stronger than the connections to the logical areas of the brain.”
5. Fight depression
Sleep and depression have a complicated and connected relationship. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, people who suffer from insomnia are 10 times more likely to develop depression than those who do not.
And depression is very common in people with obstructive sleep apnea. When the muscles in the back of the throat relax so much, they prevent normal breathing during sleep, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
Poor sleep can cause a person to have trouble regulating their emotions and lead to increased feelings of anxiety or depression.
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