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Why is sleep health important?

January 22, 2020 | Farah Jassawalla

A good, restful night's sleep is one of the most fundamental prerequisites for a healthy life. However, changing lifestyles in today's era are disrupting the sleep patterns of numerous people worldwide. Sleep is not merely a time when the body relaxes or rests but also an active period that allows the body to carry out various restoration and strengthening activities. The number of hours of sleep varies according to age: adults need at least 7-9 hours of sleep, while children aged 6-11 need 1-14 hours of slumber. A disturbed sleep pattern leads to irritability, agitation, and unexplained mood swings.

Sleep health is vital because of several reasons. First, an interrupted night's sleep profoundly impacts your mental and physical health because while sleeping, your brain consolidates memories and prepares itself for the next day. Thus, healthy sleep patterns improve your memory and hone your analytical skills. A study published in the British Journal, The Lancet, concluded that a good night's sleep could significantly impact people's psychological health. A lack of sleep tends to affect the parts of the brain responsible for our emotional health, mainly by disrupting the connection between two parts of the brain: the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. Therefore, the amygdala becomes about 60% more active than the average level, causing adverse effects on your emotional health.

Sleep deprivation does not only cause distress, emotional instability, and depression but also has adverse effects on your cardiovascular health. Various studies have revealed that adults with a compromised night's sleep are at a higher risk of acquiring heart diseases such as asthma and cardiac failure. A lack of sleep is also detrimental to your cardiovascular system because it causes high blood pressure, which is one of the primary causes of strokes. In addition, sleep deprivation can also lead to changes in your hormonal balance by interfering with the hormones that regulate hunger and appetite. This results in obesity, which also poorly affects your cardiovascular system. Not only is the hormonal balance disrupted, but sleep-deprived people may be too tired to exercise. This is because the body does not oxidize the vast calories consumed while awake at night. Sleep health is essential to maintain a healthy heart because when you are asleep, your body repairs your heart and blood vessels. Therefore, set a proper sleep routine if you want to keep safe from heart diseases and strokes.

Sleep health is also essential for maintaining an efficient immune system. When you sleep, proteins called cytokines are released in your body; cytokines help promote sleep and reduce inflammation. Specific cytokines are also associated with combating internal infection. Sleep deprivation hinders the production of these cytokines and some antibodies. Thus, the body's ability to fight infection reduces considerably due to a lack of sleep. To bolster your immune system, you need to get at least eight hours of sleep during the night. A weak immune system means your body cannot protect itself from infections or recover from ailments.

Sleep health is integral to a life of good quality. Sleep allows your muscles to rest and gives your vital organs a chance to repair themselves. A disturbed sleep pattern can be the reason behind your excessive physical fatigue, emotional instability, or high blood pressure. Just like a machine, your body needs a cool-down phase in the form of rest. So getting quality sleep is undoubtedly one of the best things you can do for your body!

Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr. Tayyab S. Akhtar on May 11th, 2023.