How much should you sleep according to science?
There is this kind of popular motto that says that when we die we will have time to sleep. Perhaps many think that sleeping is a waste of time, because we can use those hours to do something productive. Now, what do the experts say? How much should you sleep according to science?
You will be surprised when you learn the scientific verdict on how many hours of sleep we must get if we want to be in good health and truly productive.
Many times (and wrongly) we put off sleeping hours for work, study or the gym, thinking that time will yield us more and better if we use it like this. The reality is that the opposite happens, because a good rest will bring us many benefits.
Why is good sleep important?
There are many benefits of getting adequate sleep. Not only does it give us irreplaceable pleasure, but our body will thank us for it.
1. Helps fight depression
The depression is associated with stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol. Few hours of sleep increase their production, while if the body relaxes and sleeps well, we facilitate the presence of melanin and serotonin.
These last substances counteract the negative effects that stress produces and help us feel better and emotionally whole.
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2. Preserves cardiovascular health
This point is related to the previous one, since insomnia raises blood levels of stress hormones. This, in turn, causes an increase in blood pressure and heart rate.
In this sense, stress is considered to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
3. Improves memory
When we sleep, the brain continues to work, as neural connections do not stop. Sleep consists of several phases: wakefulness, Non-REM sleep, and REM sleep.
In all of them the neurons work, although it is in the last one that short-term memory is restored and fixed to become long-term memory. Some studies have shown that napping right after studying produces improvements in this aspect.
4. Helps to lose weight
Leptin is the appetite suppressant hormone. When we don't get our proper sleep, the fat cells called adipocytes they do not release enough of this substance.
Likewise, insomnia causes the stomach to release more ghrelin, which is the appetite hormone. This is why lack of sleep is associated with obesity.
5. Contributes to enhance the immune system
Another of the systems that works while we sleep is the immune system, because it regenerates and strengthens itself to fight germs and toxins that lurk around us. That is to say, if we rest well, we will have a better chance of avoiding infections.
How much should you sleep according to science?
As we have seen, rest is involved in almost every system that makes the body work. That is why mental, physical and emotional health will depend on the quality of sleep, as well as the level of productivity that we have.
Surely you have heard the theory that states that we should sleep 8 hours a day. This comes from the year 1938, when Nathaniel Kleitman, a researcher, spent a little over a month in a dark cave with one of his students. When analyzing their sleep, they realized that they slept between 8 and 8 and a half hours at night.
There are several studies that support that sleeping that amount of hours brings health benefits. For example, in the case of students, it is proven that poor rest patterns negatively alter academic performance. The same applies to the workplace.
On the other hand, some research confirmed that mortality is lower among those who sleep 7 to 8 hours a day and older for people who sleep less than 4 hours a day.
An extra hour of sleep can be decisive in the quality of life. The fact that you perform as expected during the day, having slept less than 8 hours, does not mean that it is positive for your health.
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What happens when you don't get enough sleep?
When we don't get enough sleep, only negative events happen. From alterations in health to mental and emotional complications. The consequences may be more serious than we suppose.
These are some of the things that happen when we don't sleep the recommended amount per day:
- Increased risk of type 2 diabetes: Lack of sleep causes less insulin, which is the hormone that regulates blood sugar, to be released.
- Anxiety disorders: It is because insomnia produces stress and, as a consequence, feelings of anxiety and depression.
- Loss of sexual desire: disturbed sleep patterns can lead to decreased testosterone in men. Poor quality and poor rest contributes to decreased libido and low sperm production.
- Cognitive disorders: poor concentration and memory problems can be the cause of car, work and home accidents.
- Reduces muscle growth: especially after 30 years, in which growth is only 20%. Little rest impairs cell regeneration.
How much sleep should science say and what decision should we make
Now that we have the information, we know that one more hour of sleep can be very beneficial for health, work and all the activities in which we engage.
Adults need 8 hours of sleep and babies 13, while adolescents 9. If we multiply these hours throughout life we will discover that we will have spent a large part of our existence sleeping.
The question is whether it is worth investing all this time in rest in exchange for a healthier life. Or will we continue to sleep badly until the body passes the bill and it is late?
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