The conventional wisdom is to strive for eight hours of sleep every night. However, due to hectic schedules and commitments during waking hours, most Americans don’t get sufficient Zs.
In fact, one in three U.S. adults gets less than seven hours of sleep per night. What exactly does a good night’s sleep entail and why is it so important for your health?
What Is a Good Night’s Sleep?
A good night’s sleep means getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night. However, it’s not just about the length of sleep but also the quality of sleep. When you sleep, your body goes through several stages:
- stage 1: very light sleep
- stage 2: light sleep
- stage 3: deep sleep
- REM (rapid eye movement)
Going from stage 1 to REM sleep takes an average of 90 minutes. This is one cycle, and your body goes through multiple cycles during a nightly sleep session.
In a healthy and good night’s sleep, you go through these cycles uninterrupted. However, your sleep may be interrupted for a number of reasons, such as external noise, or the need to answer nature’s call.
Sleep disorders like sleep apnea can also disrupt the pattern. When you wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle, it throws your circadian rhythm out of balance. As a result, you wake up feeling groggy and feel fatigued or lethargic throughout the day.
A good night’s sleep, therefore, can be defined as the following: Getting seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep
Now that we have a definition of a good night’s sleep, here is how your body benefits when you get the right quality and quantity of sleep.
1. More Energy
You will feel more energetic throughout the day without the need to rely on stimulants like caffeine. You will feel physically and mentally more alert. You’re also less likely to feel the afternoon slump that most people feel around lunchtime or after lunch. Your brain will be sharper and ready for cognitive-intensive tasks.
2. Boost Your Immune System
Getting a good night’s sleep makes you less susceptible to the common cold and other illnesses. A 2011 study revealed a correlation between chronic sleep deprivation and compromised immune health. It’s also believed that the sleep hormone melatonin assists in counteracting the negative effects of inflammation.
3. Improve Heart Health
Getting enough sleep is just as important for your heart health as exercising and eating healthy. According to the American Heart Association, lack of sleep or poor sleep quality is associated with hypertension, atherosclerosis, and high LDL cholesterol levels. Poor sleep is also associated with weight gain and Type 2 diabetes, both of which can also negatively impact heart health.
4. Better Athletic Performance
Apart from a sharper mind, sleep also boosts physical performance. This is a huge plus for anyone who exercises regularly, which you should be doing for long-term health. Growth hormone production reaches its peak during slumber. Growth hormones are essential for muscle repair after a rigorous workout. Lack of sleep can lead to strength loss and an increased risk of injury.
5. Regulate Weight
Did you know getting adequate sleep helps keep your weight in check? When you sleep soundly, your body produces an appetite suppressor called leptin. This makes you less hungry in your waking hours. Conversely, a lack of sleep increases the production of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite and is aptly named the hunger hormone.
Read also: What Happens if Sleep Apnea Left Untreated?
Improve Your Sleep with SleepWell Louisiana
Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, can seriously inhibit normal sleep patterns and could prevent you from getting the good night’s sleep that you deserve. If you or your loved one hasn’t been getting enough quality sleep and may have sleep apnea, we recommend taking our sleep assessment or contacting us to find out how we can improve your sleep. Our custom oral appliance could be a viable CPAP alternative for those exploring other options to treat sleep apnea. Get the treatment you need to ensure you get a good night’s sleep and reap the benefits.