How Much of a Health Priority is Sleep?
By: Josh Anderson
We are constantly told that in order to be healthy we need to eat correctly and get some exercise, but are we missing something here? Eating plenty of vegetables and working out is a great way to improve your heart health and lose weight, but you may be overlooking… sleep. We commonly skimp on our sleep in favor of working more or just watching another episode of your favorite show and this can be harming our health!
Get More Sleep
As we get older and commitments pile up, it seems that we are getting less sleep. Who enjoys dragging yourself out of your cozy bed on a cold winter morning? While many of us face the daily “zombie syndrome” and can barely function without 2+ cups of coffee, getting enough sleep can improve our health in so many ways. For instance, getting the proper amount of sleep helps to improve your immune system, your cognitive capabilities, let’s your body recover and build muscle, and can actually help you manage a healthy body weight!
Boost Your Immune System
This winter if you are looking for a simple way to help prevent and fight the common cold, look no further than getting more sleep! Recent research on fruit flies, found that the participants actually recovered faster from illness the more they slept! This was hypothesized to be because when you are sleeping (apart from all the things listed above), you have fewer immune system disruptions – basically letting it run at full capacity! So if you feel a cold coming on and don’t want to be sick for several days, hunker down and get some sleep!
Sleep and Your Body Weight
So you have the whole kickass workout and nutrition plan down and are feeling great. You can improve the effectiveness of your whole fitness plan by simply getting the right amount of sleep! Research has indicated that a consistent sleep and wake time can affect your body weight and fat. The study determined those that maintained consistent sleep times while getting between 6.5 to 8.5 hours had significantly less body fat. As with all research, this doesn’t stand true for everyone out there, but it is a great illustration on how sleep can be vital in maintaining a healthy body weight!
Boost Your Brain
As we get older our minds can slow down and our memory can slip. This is just a natural stage of aging, right? I mean do you feel like you are misplacing your keys, phone, wallet….house more often? One way to naturally boost your cognitive function and help process memories is to get the optimal amount of sleep! Sleep has been found to help you strengthen connective brain tissues and process memories! So sleep may be able to help you process all of the things that occurred to you throughout the day and thus hopefully provide you with a stronger, healthier mind!
By now I’m sure you realize that sleep should be a vital part of your healthy lifestyle, but how much is appropriate? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us that adults should get 7-8 hours of sleep per night and teens should shoot for 9-10 hours. Stick with that and you should be good to go! Just remember the next time you come down with a cold or just want to improve your overall health, make sleep a priority!