Schedules are busier than ever. That means a full night’s rest can hit the bottom of the priority list. It may seem productive to skimp on the recommended seven or more hours of shuteye. The National Institutes of Health estimates that 50-70 million American adults aren’t getting adequate sleep. An irregular sleep schedule affects more than how much coffee you need the next day. Your overall health can benefit from making sleep a higher priority.
Sleep quality vs. sleep quantity
There is a difference between sleep quality and sleep quantity. Sleep quality is how well you are sleeping. This includes how long it takes to fall asleep, how many times you wake and how long you stay up during those periods. Sleep quantity is how many hours you spend asleep. Both are important when it comes to your well-being.
Why sleep is important for health
Focusing on getting enough high-quality rest supports your overall health. This may include setting a regular sleep schedule and falling asleep faster. Here are 10 areas of health that better sleep can help improve.
- Heart health. Some studies have linked poor sleep quality and short sleep duration with higher cholesterol and blood pressure and an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. Sleep supports heart health and can reduce the risk of heart-related illness.
- Weight management. Studies suggest that not getting the right quality and quantity of zzz’s may make it more difficult to maintain healthy weight.
- Diabetes management. Sleep is an often unrecognized factor in diabetes management. Insufficient and irregular sleep can have an impact on diabetes risk. Researchers have found that individuals who average less than five hours of sleep per night are two times more likely to develop pre-diabetes compared to those who obtain seven hours or more. Lack of sleep can make managing pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes harder.
- Immune health. Adequate rest helps the body recover. Sleep has a powerful effect on immune system function, from reducing inflammation to producing antibodies. Sleep loss can actually increase the risk for infections.
- Better memory. You’ve heard of the old saying “sleep on it.” There may be some science to that. Sleeping helps form and link memories to experiences. Quality and quantity of sleep can also have an impact on learning, especially new information or tasks.
- Mood boost. Have you felt cranky and irritable after a bad night’s sleep? Mood and sleep are closely related. Even one night of bad sleep can increase stress and mental exhaustion. Better sleep quality is tied to an overall better mood and outlook.
- Improve exercise. Sleep and exercise go hand in hand. Not getting enough sleep can lower motivation for exercise. It can also slow muscle recovery and decrease performance. A good night’s rest helps muscles recover properly. Regular activity is a natural way to improve overall sleep. But, not too close to bedtime. Aim to exercise at least four hours before bed to give your body time to wind down.
- Reduce inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury or illness. Ongoing inflammation can put the body at greater risk for health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Getting adequate sleep can reduce inflammation in the body and lower your risk of related health issues.
- Stress less. We can all benefit from less stress. Chronic stress can throw off your sleep cycle. Finding ways to manage stress can improve both sleep quality and quantity. Getting enough sleep can help you cope better with stress and powerful emotions.
- Better connections. Getting enough sleep can improve your social life. A lack of sleep can increase feelings of loneliness. Adequate sleep can improve day-to-day social interactions and support and strengthen connections with others.
How much sleep do you need?
The amount of sleep you need changes with age. In general, teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night. Adults need about seven or more hours of sleep a night. Find the amount that makes you feel rested and refreshed. Find out more on how to improve sleep quality.
Teladoc Health cares for your whole family
Do you feel like you need help with getting better sleep? Connect with us through the Teladoc Health mobile app, online or by phone. Here are all the ways Teladoc can help you and your family stay healthy.
Published on 12/20/22