In a 2010 survey, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention detailed that 30% of Americans report six hours of sleep or less a night [Source]. And I’m sure the number of Americans who would say they have 6 or less hours of restful sleep at night would yield a similar or higher percentage.
This is despite some of sleep’s known benefits and relations:
- Deep sleep can lead to more positive emotions
- Sleep can assist and lead to improved memory
- Sleep plays a role in slowing or quickening the Aging Process
- Sleep can reduce stress and thus, improve immunity
- Sleep can improve physical performance, and here
- Sleep plays a large role in immunity
How Important is Sleep Continued…
Sleep is an immune reaction. Throughout the day bacteria (that you need) are growing within your gut and body, and after a certain point, you fall asleep so immune system-related cells (like macrophages) can kill the bacteria and balance out the good/bad bacteria for the next day. You can probably infer what happens if you don’t sleep. The bacteria keep growing and growing and immune function becomes weaker and weaker.
To make it short and simple, your body runs on a biological clock. If your clock is out of whack, like what happens when you don’t get enough sleep, your hormones become out of whack. Many of the hormones you have likely heard of (like leptin, testosterone, growth hormone, ghrelin, cortisol) are influenced by sleep, and influence how fat or how lean you are, among other vital roles in blood flow, nutrient delivery, and immunity.
Why is Sleep Important Continued…
More sleep can lead to a normalization of cortisol and stress patterns. Ever notice how you’re more agitated when you run on less sleep? Notice how you have more cravings for sugar, caffeine, nicotine (if you use it)?
Being tired can mean the difference between logical and effective thinking and illogical and confused thinking.
When to Sleep and How Much?
We’ve all seen recommendations range anywhere from 6-9 hours. I believe the most important factor is that you wake up rested, and it would only make sense that different individuals require different amounts of sleep [Source].
As far as when to sleep, I have always turned to Paul Chek and other’s recommendations that sleep between 10pm and 6am is more restful and effective than sleep between other hours. Paul Chek of course bases his reasoning that behind research and study of the circadian rhythm, and the rise and sunset of the sun (which highlights light’s relation to our Circadian rhythms).
Sadly, I have failed at finding detailed research into why sleeping between 10pm and 6am may be effective, although I am sure it is out there, and will update this section when found.
In the short and long run, sleep does contribute to your health and happiness. So just make sure that the majority of the time you are getting enough sleep, so when those nights when something more important than sleep pops up, you can indulge. I shouldn’t have to convince anyone to sleep, but most of us do need motivation to make time to sleep, and I hope some of the above information helps in that regard.