The Importance of Sleep
Without sleep a person will die. With suboptimal sleep a person will function sub-optimally and they will be more likely to develop chronic diseases.
100 years ago, the average American got 9 hours of sleep. In 2021, it appears that the average person gets approximately 6.8 hours of sleep.
Our lack of sleep is hurting our ability to learn, work, and build a better society.
Sleep seems to improve every physiological parameter studied. Including:
- Improves cognitive performance, memory, creativity, and learning capacity
- Allows our minds and bodies time to grow, heal, and repair
- Needed for proper immune system function and education. Without sleep our bodies cannot fight infections and cancer.
- Reduces appetite, helps control blood sugar, and improves insulin resistance.
- Regulates hormones
- Prevents a number of chronic diseases (likely all of them) including high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, dementia, and much more.
Giving your body at least an 8 hour window to sleep every night is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
If you cannot sleep, consider seeking medical help. But in general, the best way to improve sleep is to improve overall health. Start exercising regularly, eat whole foods, reduce stress, and be kind to others.
Additionally pay attention to light. Getting bright light for 15 to 60 minutes in the morning can really help set our biological clocks. Avoiding lights and screens in the evening, tells our body it is ready for bed.
Wander Medicine would love to help you if you cannot sleep. Call us today (208-342-1129) or schedule an appointment with us online at wandermedicine.com.
Bill Brandenburg, MD
- Walker, Matthew. Why We Sleep; Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. Scribner. 2017
- Troynikov O, Watson CG, Nawaz N. Sleep environments and sleep physiology: A review. J Therm Biol. 2018
- Lowe CJ, Safati A, Hall PA. The neurocognitive consequences of sleep restriction: A meta-analytic review. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2017
- Owens JA, Weiss MR. Insufficient sleep in adolescents: causes and consequences. Minerva Pediatr. 2017
- Getting a Good Night’s Sleep. NIH. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/good-nights-sleep
- Brain Basics: Understanding sleep. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Understanding-Sleep
- Stages of Sleep. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/stages-of-sleep
- How much do animals sleep. https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/chasleep.html