Did you know that humans are the only creatures on Earth that consciously deny themselves adequate rest? Sleep is one of the most important aspects of a healthy balanced routine. Recommended hours of sleep varies by age and individual. Adults function best on 8 hours of sleep, while teenagers and children require slightly more.
Getting optimal levels of sleep can help reduce the risk of several chronic health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and mental health disorders. Sleep deprivation has been associated with a higher risk of obesity in both children and adults.
In addition, sleep has been shown to improve the function of our immune system. Studies have demonstrated that individuals who get less than 7 hours of sleep per night are 3 times more likely to catch the common cold than those who sleep over 8 hours. In addition, those who sleep less than 5 hours per night have a 70% increased risk of developing pneumonia compared to those who sleep over 8 hours.
Sleep also has a strong relationship to the way that our brains work. It affects our ability to learn and create memories. Research has shown that sleeping less than 5 hours for 5 nights in a row, or not sleeping for one single 24-hour span causes on average a 20% deficit in brain function. This is the same as a 0.08% blood alcohol level, which is the legal limit for driving intoxicated.
The effects of sleep also carry over to sport performance. Research has shown that basketball players who sleep an additional 2 hours per night increase their speed by 5% and accuracy by 9%. Meanwhile, athletes who have not slept well demonstrate lower energy, increased fatigue, and altered focus in sporting events. Split-second decision making, reaction time, and higher level coordination are also affected.
Sleep is a key component of the healthy triad, which additionally includes nutrition and exercise. Creating holistic goals and balancing your habits relative to these pillars can help support your journey towards living your best life. If you have further questions regarding the benefits of sleep, feel free to contact a physical therapist at Warm Springs Holistic Health for more information.