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January 16, 2017 • Family Medicine
In many ways, sleep is one of the body’s best natural preventive medicines: adequate amounts of sleep promote health in many areas of the body, and have been proven to be an effective protector against several different conditions.
What are the proper amounts of sleep you should get depending on your age, and what are some of the health benefits of following these guidelines? Let’s take a look.
How much you need to sleep depends on several individual factors in your body. Some of these factors can include:
For most people, sleep needs are broken down into general categories by age:
Following the guidelines and getting the proper amounts of sleep can have potential health benefits. Some of the biggest areas it can affect include:
Pain and Injury Risk: People with chronic pain issues often find relief from getting enough sleep. Studies have linked pain thresholds with sleep, and this can be a vicious cycle: It’s naturally tougher to get to sleep when you’re experiencing chronic pain.
Better sleep also lowers your risk of sustaining an injury that might cause pain. Better sleep reduces the risk of accidents at home, work or on the road, which are some of the main causes of injury.
Mood: Most people have had times where tiredness made them irritable or frustrated, and this is common with sleep deprivation. Mood and temperament are some of the first elements affected when experiencing sleep loss.
Weight: A big concern for for many people trying to manage their weight is the lack of energy levels affecting their willingness to exercise. What can cause low energy? Lack of sleep.
In addition, hormones in the body that help you feel full aren’t produced at the levels they should be if you aren’t sleeping enough. This will make you feel hungrier, which leads to more eating and potential weight gain.
Sex Life: Lack of sleep has been connected to lower testosterone levels in men, and tiredness in either member of a sexual relationship naturally leads to more difficulty engaging in intimacy.
Memory and Brain Activity: Sleep loss is known to limit cognition and attention span, and it can often damage your decision-making abilities. It also damages your brain’s ability to store memories, a process that usually takes place while we sleep. In many cases, sleep deprivation can actually cause “false memories” where people remember things that never really happened.
Immune System: Some research has also linked proper sleep with the body’s ability to fight basic diseases, though more confirming research is needed.
Are you concerned about the amounts of sleep you’re getting, or concerned about sleep deprivation affecting your health? Speak to your doctor or health provider about simple, non-invasive solutions to help you get the sleep you need.
“9 Surprising Reasons to Get More Sleep.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/9-reasons-to-sleep-more#1
“How many hours of sleep are enough for good health?” The Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/faq-20057898
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.