Sleep accounts for one-quarter to one-third of the human lifespan. But what exactly happens when you sleep? We all agree that sleep is essential. However, many of us fall into the trap of thinking that we only need a few hours in bed each night. While it’s recommended that adults sleep between 7 and 9 hours every night, around 30% of American adults sleep less than 5 hours per night! If you’ve started sleeping less, here are a few of the reasons why we all need to sleep better.
We spend about one-third of our lives sleeping, and no animal can survive without sleeping. What happens when you don’t sleep? If you spend a few nights without sleeping, it will only take a couple of days for you to feel the effects of sleep deprivation. You’ll have a lack of awareness, trouble focusing or holding your attention, a distorted sense of time, poor mental function, and extreme exhaustion and fatigue.
Sleep gives our brain a boost and improving cognitive function. One of sleep’s primary roles is helping us encode memories from the day and migrating memories from short to long term memories. We’re continually learning new things, but unless you’re getting a good night’s sleep every night, your ability to recall the information you’ve learned will be far worse. Sleeping is a crucial part of encoding information.
The second reason sleep is so important is that it helps our immune system function. It gives our bodies the time and energy to repair organs, rest muscles, and balance hormones. During sleep, our T-cells, or immune cells, are the most active, restoring and refreshing the body and fighting off potential pathogens before they have a chance to make you sick.
Getting more sleep is a crucial part of the equation, but remember that it’s not just about sleep quantity. Sleep quality is essential too, and it’s possible to get the hours you need but not feel refreshed because your sleep is fragmented or non-restorative. Fortunately, improving sleep hygiene often boosts both the quantity and quality of your sleep.