Just like food and water, sleep is a necessity. Getting adequate sleep has a positive impact on your physical, mental and emotional well-being.
“Sleep is essential to good health,” said Heather Krenke, a technologist with Owatonna Hospital Sleep Lab. “You need enough sleep at night to be at your best during the day.”
Two unexpected sleep benefits
1. Heart protection
Chronic sleep deprivation contributes to inflammation throughout your body, high cholesterol and high blood pressure — all heart disease risk factors.
“People who don’t get an adequate amount of quality sleep are more at risk for heart disease,” said Krenke. “Remove TV and computer screens from your bedroom. Keep things quiet, cool and dark, and have a regular sleep schedule.”
2. Curbed food cravings
“Tired brains actually respond to food differently,” said Krenke. “In fact, the sleep-deprived generally consume more calories and extra grams of saturated fat per day.”
In turn, extra pounds make sleeping more difficult — overweight individuals are more likely to have sleep apnea, a dangerous condition that disrupts breathing during the night.
How much sleep is enough?
Most healthy adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep a night to feel well rested. But sleep needs can vary from person to person.
“What works for one person may not be enough sleep for another,” Krenke said. “Some people can function fine on less than seven hours of sleep, while others may need 10 hours or more.”
You might see sleep as a break from your daily activities. But as you drift through the stages of slumber, your body and brain carry out tasks essential for physical and mental health.
“It’s important for your body to be able to get the rest it needs,” said Krenke. “Unconsciously, you’re storing memories, rebalancing hormones, rearming your immune system against infections and repairing your heart and blood vessels.”