Why is Sleep Important?

Apr 12, 2022 Sleep Tips

Why is Sleep Important?

Quick Health Scoop

  • Lack of good quality sleep has been prevalent, especially during the past couple of years
  • Many factors affect sleep quality and sleep quantity, and insufficient sleep may lead to sleep problems
  • How much sleep you need varies by age and lifestyle, but generally, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night
  • The health benefits of sleep are far-reaching, specifically on our cognitive, cardiovascular, and immune systems.

Accounting to a 2020 survey by the National Sleep Foundation, more than one-third of U.S. adults feel sleepy on average three times a week. And the solution for 62% of respondents? They’re simply trying to “shake it off.” [1]

While the past few years has certainly seen increased disrupted sleep for many people, a variety of factors impact sleep. For instance, what you eat and drink can lead to poor sleep, as well as napping, engaging in stimulating activity before bed, your sleep environment, and (of course!) stress.

Regardless of what might cause sleep issues, the importance of consistent, quality sleep remains vital to human health. In fact, sleep affects both our physical and mental health and is essential to everyday functioning. But why is sleep important? How much sleep do you need? And what are the health benefits of getting adequate sleep?

 

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

As a quick refresher, it helps to understand your sleep/wake cycle (called the circadian rhythm), the 24-hour cycle of chemicals and hormones in the body that determine when you fall asleep and wake up. As part of this cycle, the body’s production of melatonin —the hormone that promotes sleep—increases as it gets dark and decreases as it gets light. Your sleep cycle focuses on the four stages of sleep that include dozing off and subdued stages, deep sleep, and REM sleep. Truly restorative sleep involves moving smoothly from one stage of the sleep cycle to the next. Typically, you progress through four to six rounds of the sleep cycle every night. [2]

So, how much sleep do you need? While a magic number of exact sleep minutes you need, to make sure you wake up refreshed, doesn’t exist, you can follow some simple guidelines. Keep in mind, though, that age and lifestyle play a role in the amount of sleep you need, too. Experts at the National Sleep Foundation recommend following these guidelines for how much sleep you need every day. [3]

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours (including daytime naps)
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours,
  • School-age children (6-13 years): 9-11
  • Teenagers (14-17 years): 8-10 hours
  • Adults (18-64): 7-9 hours
  • Adults (65+): 7-8 hours

To make sure you’re getting enough sleep, you should practice good sleep hygiene. Simply put, you can make healthy lifestyle changes to improve your sleep pattern. Examples include establishing a consistent bedtime routine, sticking to a consistent sleep schedule, paying attention to what you eat and drink (and when), as well as limiting screen time at night within two hours before bedtime.

If you’re struggling with sleep issues, you might also consider natural sleep aids (such as those containing Melatonin) to promote sleep. Some newer supplements, like Nature Made Sleep Longer™, combines Melatonin, GABA, and  to help relax your mind, fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer. Another new supplement, Nature Made’s Back to Sleep, combines just the right balance of Melatonin, L-Theanine, and GABA to help you relax and quickly fall back to sleep.

 

What Are the Benefits of Sleep?

As an essential bodily function, sleep helps you recharge both mentally and physically. How important is sleep? Playing a pivotal role in nearly every body function, healthy sleep helps to maintain your well-being in the following ways. [4,5,6]

  • Support a healthy immune system
  • Support maintaining a healthy weight
  • Decrease your risk for serious health issues 
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve your mood
  • Facilitate clear thinking
  • Improve memory
  • Enhance decision-making
  • Boost your physical performance
  • Improve your relationships with others
  • Lower the risk of injuries (particularly car accidents from drowsy driving)

“Sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness, and mood,” writes Dr. Merrill Mitler, a sleep expert and neuroscientist at National Institutes of Health. Mitler goes on to say that sleep affects more than cognitive functioning—it also impacts growth and stress hormones, your appetite, breathing, your immune system and heart health. [7]

 

What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

A variety of factors impact sleep, affecting both your sleep quality and sleep quantity. These internal and external factors influence how often you wake up throughout the night and how much deep sleep you get and therefore how rested you feel when you wake up.

Studies show that poor sleep can lead to reduced efficiency, lower productivity, errors, and accidents. [8]

 

The Bottom Line

With today’s busy lifestyle many people are not getting enough sleep. A variety of factors influence your sleep quality and sleep quantity. How much sleep you need varies by age and lifestyle, but generally, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Why is sleep so important? The health benefits of sleep affect your physical and mental health, including cognitive and heart health.

 

Continue to check back on the Nature Made blog for the latest science-backed articles to help you take ownership of your health.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice or a recommendation for any specific product. Consult your health care provider for more information. 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 

References

  1. National Sleep Foundation. “2020 Sleep in America® Poll Shows Alarming Level of Sleepiness and Low Levels of Action.” March 9, 2020. Accessed on: February 25, 2022. https://www.thensf.org/2020-sleep-in-america-poll-shows-alarming-level-of-sleepiness/
  2. Sleep Foundation. “How Sleep Works.” April 1, 2022. Accessed on: April 12, 2022. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works
  3. National Sleep Foundation. “How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?” October 1, 2020. Accessed on: February 25, 2022. https://www.thensf.org/how-many-hours-of-sleep-do-you-really-need/
  4. University of Michigan School of Public Health. “What Is Sleep Exactly, and How Does It Help Us Stay Healthy?” March 2, 2020. Accessed on: February 28, 2022. https://sph.umich.edu/pursuit/2020posts/why-sleep-is-so-important-to-your-health.html
  5. USDHHSJuly 8, 2021. Accessed on: February 28, 2022. https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/everyday-healthy-living/mental-health-and-relationships/get-enough-sleep#panel-2
  6. Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Healthy sleep: Benefits of Sleep.” 2021. Accessed on: February 28, 2022. https://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep
  7. NIH News in Health. “The Benefits of Slumber: Why You Need a Good Night’s Sleep.” April 2013. Accessed on: February 28, 2022. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2013/04/benefits-slumber
  8. Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Healthy sleep: Sleep, Performance, and Public Safety.” 2021. Accessed on: February 28, 2022. https://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences/sleep-performance-and-public-safety

Authors

Lisa Beach

NatureMade Contributor

Lisa Beach is a seasoned journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Eating Well, Parents, AARP’s Disrupt Aging, Optimum Wellness, and dozens more. She also writes for a variety of health/wellness-focused brands. Check out her writer’s website at www.LisaBeachWrites.com.

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Melissa Dorval Pine, RD

Science and Health Educator

Melissa is a registered dietitian (RD) and works in our Medical and Scientific Communications department as a Science and Health Educator. She has worked for Pharmavite for over 20 years educating consumers, healthcare practitioners, retailers and employees about nutrition, dietary supplements and overall wellness. Prior to joining the Medical and Scientific Communications team, Melissa launched and managed Pharmavite’s Consumer Relations department. Melissa received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutritional Science, from the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, and completed her dietetic internship at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in East Orange New Jersey.

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