Sleep is an essential need that the human body requires. It is vital for the infrastructure of good health. Not getting enough sleep can have a great effect on the body physically and mentally.
The two basic types of sleep are rapid eye movement (REM sleep) and non-REM sleep. Deep sleep is known as non-REM, while dreaming state typically occurs during REM. Generally, non-REM and REM sleep present themselves in a regular pattern of 3–5 cycles each night.
Your body’s effectiveness to operate and feel well during the day relies on whether you are getting enough total sleep AND adequate amounts of each type of sleep. It also depends on whether you are sleeping at a time when your body is prepared and ready to sleep.
Health Conditions Linked to a Lack of Sleep
Adults typically need a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night. When the minimal amount is not met, health conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity can occur or worsen.
- High Blood Pressure: Blood pressure levels go down during normal sleep. Staying awake longer or having problems sleeping means your blood pressure is staying higher for a longer amount of time.
- Type 2 Diabetes: Diabetes causes sugar to build up in your blood. Getting enough sleep may help people regulate blood sugar levels. Researchers believe that sleep restriction may affect blood sugar levels due to its effects on insulin, cortisol and oxidative stress.
- Obesity: The part of the brain that controls hunger needs a healthy balance of the hormone's ghrelin (makes you feel hungry) and leptin (makes you feel full). Not getting enough sleep may cause more ghrelin levels to increase, which will make you feel hungrier than when you are well-rested.
How Do I Get Better Sleep?
- Stick to a routine - A regular sleep schedule will cause your circadian rhythm to stay on track. Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Try not to vary too much, even on the weekends.
- Physical Activity - Get enough exercise during the day. Try not to do too much physical activity within a few hours of your regularly scheduled bedtime.
- Don’t eat or drink within a few hours of bedtime - Eating or drinking too much within a few hours of bedtime causes your organs to “wake up”. It may impair your sleep cycle and cause you to have trouble managing your blood sugar.
- Keep your bedroom dark, cool and quiet - This type of environment is the most welcoming environment for your body to prepare for sleep.