Take a look in the mirror. Are there bags under your eyes?
Are you feeling a bit run-down? Maybe slightly irritable? Constantly hungry?
You? Might be tired. You might need more sleep.
According to the CDC, insufficient sleep has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. Adults should be getting a solid seven to nine hours per night, and all too many of us are falling far short of the mark. In fact, up to 80 percent of us are suffering from some type of sleep deprivation.
If you recognize your sleepy self in that mirror, here are five reasons why sleep is so important:
1. Sleep is Your Brain’s Janitor
Really. Recent studies indicate that the reason we feel so darn well-rested after a good night’s sleep is that during our slumber, our brain is ridding itself of neurotoxins. Out with the bad, in with the good. So if you want to start the day with your brain chemistry as optimized as possible, hit the hay nice and early!
“The restorative function of sleep may be a consequence of the enhanced removal of potentially neurotoxic waste products that accumulate in the awake central nervous system.” (Science Magazine)
2. Drowsy Driving is Dangerous
We all know not to drink and drive, but drowsy driving is similarly risky and may cause up to 1,550 fatalities (and 40,000 nonfatal injuries) per year. When we are tired, our response times are slower, and we just don’t have our wits about us like we do when we’ve had a healthy night’s sleep.
“External and internal factors and current lack of knowledge and attitudes about sleep cause many Americans to get inadequate sleep either occasionally (acute sleepiness) or routinely (chronic sleepiness). Those who suffer chronic sleep restriction and sleepiness may also combine this lifestyle pattern with situational acute sleep loss, aggravating their risk of drowsy driving.” (NHTSA)
3. Insufficient Sleep Is Associated with Chronic Diseases
Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression can worsen when sleep deprivation is also an issue. Their onset can be hastened, and their management can be more difficult.
“While we often consider sleep to be a ‘passive’ activity, sufficient sleep is increasingly being recognized as an essential aspect of health promotion and chronic disease prevention in the public health community.” (CDC)
4. Being Tired Can Cause Weight Gain
Not only will being tired encourage you to grab for snacks for an energy boost, being sleep-deprived alters your hormones and thus your metabolism. That’s a double whammy right there.
“The two hormones that are key in this process are ghrelin and leptin. ‘Ghrelin is the go’ hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you are sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin,’ Breus says. ‘Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating, and when you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin.’”
More ghrelin plus less leptin equals weight gain.
“‘You are eating more, plus your metabolism is slower when you are sleep-deprived,’ Breus says.” (WebMD)
5. Sleep Deprivation Can Prematurely Age Your Skin
*Drops mic* Because, really, what else needs to be said?
“… researchers found statistically significant differences between good and poor quality sleepers. Using the SCINEXA skin aging scoring system, poor quality sleepers showed increased signs of intrinsic skin aging including fine lines, uneven pigmentation and slackening of skin and reduced elasticity.” (University Hospitals)
So shoot for those seven to nine hours of sleep that experts recommend. Everything from your skin to your brain will thank you!
Images courtesy of Deposit Photos.
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