This diagram is courtesy of Healthline
Just like a balanced diet, water and oxygen, sleep is a basic human need for the better functioning of the mind and body. So why is sleep important for good health? The answer is simple. Your body is not a machine. It needs time to rest and replenish.
Any time you spend the night tossing and turning in bed you know how the next day will be more of a nightmare. The fatigue, restlessness, forgetfulness, stress can all be attributed to sleep deprivation.
Medical research conducted by Center for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate the immediate effects of lack of enough and quality sleep concluded that sleep deficiency widely interferes with activities that require high concentration and attention such as reading, writing, driving; generally, activities that demand focus and concentration.
What is the danger of sleep deficiency? One may ask since what matters most to us is to see that the tasks at hand are handled, that the in-tray is empty and schedules are followed to the letter; regardless of the fact that it costs resting time. Lack of enough sleep has been found to lead to many chronic health problems.
These include heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes among others. Besides, sleep deficiency has been linked to human errors such as tragic road accidents, where the driver sleep drives. Hence the need to address sleep deficiency.
Sleep in Children
Children and teens who are sleep deficient to have problems socializing and interacting with others. They were also found to be easily angered and depressed. This is besides experiencing mood swings and lacking motivation, as lack of sleep does not allow their nerves to rest and brains to reenergize.
Sleep also plays a vital role in one’s physical health. First, it helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make one feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). Moreover, sleep is involved in the healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. This protects one from risks of such diseases as heart disease, kidney disease diabetes or high blood pressure.
While at it, sleep has been known to affect how one’s body reacts to insulin- the hormone that controls blood sugar level in the body. Thus, lack of enough sleep results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, consequently, increasing the risk for diabetes.
Finally, sleep also allows the immune system time to reenergize in order to fight diseases from the body. If one is not getting enough sleep, they are likely to have trouble fighting diseases.
How much sleep is enough for one? Sleep needs vary from one person to another, primarily depending on age and activity. World Health Organization (WHO) came up with tentative sleep hours that different people can sleep in order to have enough sleep and stay healthy.
For children aged between 4 and 12 months, sleep time is recommended at 12 to 16 hours a day. This is because the infants are experiencing rapid growth, and cell differentiation usually occurs while they sleep. Hence enough sleep time contributes to children’s growth.
As the children grow, they become active and hence sleep time reduces. Thus, children between 1 and 2 years do well with 11 to 14 hours of sleep. This doesn’t differ much with children between the ages of 3 to 5 years, who require between 10 and 13 hours of sleep each day.
Children between 6 to 12 years require 9 to 12 hours of sleep a day. For teenagers between 13 and 18 years require up to 10 hours of quality sleep each day, and at least 8 hours.
Adults above 18 years are required to spare up to 8 hours of quality sleep each day. This enables them to reenergize and stay active and productive.
In conclusion, the need for sleep cannot be underestimated. The health problems associated with sleep deficiency can be avoided if one strives to get off enough, quality sleep each day. Shall we sleep?