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April 2017

3 Good Reasons to Not Skip Out on Sleep

Like eating and breathing, sleeping is an essential part of living. You’ve probably heard a lot about how much sleep you need—typically 7 to 8 hours for adults. But the quality of your sleep matters, too. So what exactly is considered a good night’s rest? And how can sleeping well help your body and mind? 

Person sleeping, with hand on alarm clock

Defining a good night’s rest

In a recent report, the National Sleep Foundation set out to define quality sleep. Before its report, there was no consensus among health experts on exactly what it meant to sleep well. So the foundation put together a panel. The panel included people trained in sleep medicine. It also had representatives from organizations like the American Academy of Neurology and the Society for Women’s Health Research. 

The panel reviewed the latest studies on sleep quality. From its review, it identified 4 key markers of a good night’s rest. Solid shuteye means:

  • It takes you no more than 30 minutes to fall asleep.

  • You don’t wake up more than once in a night.

  • If you do wake up, it takes you no more than 20 minutes to fall back asleep.

  • When you are in bed, you spend more than 85% of your time sleeping. 

Not skimping on sleep

Sleeping well in today’s demanding, fast-paced society can be a challenge. Ongoing research shows it’s worth the effort, though. Here are 3 reasons to put sleep at the top of your to-do list. 

It can boost your immune system

If you are struggling for shuteye, you are more likely to become sick. Ever wonder why? In a recent study, researchers may have found the answer. They looked at the sleep patterns of a small group of twins. Each twin set had one twin who slept on average 60 minutes less than the other. The researchers took blood samples from the study participants. After looking at the blood, they were able to see how parts of the immune system—specifically the white blood cells—didn’t work as well in twins who usually slept less than their brother or sister. 

It can improve your memory, even as you age

We tend to forget more as we grow older. A good night’s rest may help save some of your memory. So says a recent review in Sleep Medicine. Researchers looked at 18 past studies that measured thinking skills and length of sleep in older adults. They found that sleeping too little or even too much can affect how well your mind works, especially your memory. 

It may lower your risk for many diseases

Over time, not sleeping enough may affect your overall health. It may lead to serious diseases. One recent study of more than 25,000 people found a lack of sleep may be linked to cancer. Those in the study who said they worked the night shift for more than 20 years were about a quarter more likely to develop the disease in their lifetime. Other past research has suggested too little sleep for too long may raise your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and depression.

Wondering how you can sleep better? Check out this guide to healthy sleep.

Online Medical Reviewer: Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2017
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