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Did you catch up on your sleep last weekend? Well, if you did, kudos to you! And if you didn’t,it’s understandable. Almost everyone has been there, that moment you keep tossing and turning on your bed, beckoning on sleep.

Even though it’s way past bedtime, you just can’t fall asleep. Next thing you know,it’s already morning. And you sure did not get nearly enough of it.

1 in 3 of us suffers from poor sleep. This is to let you know that you’re not alone in this struggle. Causes of this could range from stress, working on computers, taking your projects to the house after work, worrying about a problem, the list is infinite.

A lady sleeping on duty due to poor sleep at night.

WHY IS SLEEPING IMPORTANT ANYWAYS?

“Sleeping is important to our overall health, well being and our immune health” says Dr Nicole Avena, PhD, assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Visiting Professor of Health Psychology.

Sleep is vital for our health. It is very essential for many important functions such as development, energy conservation, brain waste clearance, modulation of immune response, cognition, performance, vigilance, disease and psychological state.

Simply put, it’s just a time needed for your body cells (especially the brain and other heavily burdened organs) to rest so that they don’t become overworked and wear out in structure and in function.

HOW MUCH SLEEP IS ENOUGH FOR ME?

Recommended hours of sleep per night might vary depending on age. Every Individual is different, so you just have to take your time and know the amount best for you.

For a toddler or let’s say an infant, within the ages of 4 months to 4 years, about 14-15 hours of it a day is healthy.

Children from 5-14 years of age need about 9-13 hours of it.

For teenagers, 8-9 hours is enough. And then, for an average adult including the advanced, 7-8 hours is recommended.

Having a sleep pattern less than these continuously for a long time could pose a lot of problems for you.

SO WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I DON’T SLEEP WELL?

1• It affects your memory

As established earlier, sleeping is the time for your body to rest and heal itself of the stress involved in functioning efficiently. So when you don’t sleep, the brain becomes less efficient especially in performing cognitive functions. Also things that you could do subconsciously, might become difficult to do.

2• It changes your mood

The last time you didn’t get enough sleep, how was your mood throughout the following day?

You might have observed that you were feeling a bit cranky and having some mood swings.

Well, this commonly occurs if you had a poor sleep. Your level of alertness is decreased as well as there could be series of emotional outburst.

3• You can reduce your life span

Yes, you read clearly. Sad but has every sense of truth in it. The less you sleep, the more you shorten the length of your days.

With lack of sleep, there are increased chances of developing a cardiovascular disease such as a stroke, a heart attack, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes mellitus and the list is ongoing.

4• Increased chance of weight gain

Lack of sleep can put off the hormonal balance in your body, especially that of stress and hunger hormones.

When you’re stressed from a sleepless night, your body releases stress hormones, to help you deal with the problem, and by doing that, part of it’s function is to also increase your weight.

5• It Reduces your Immune system

Lack of sleep might make it difficult for your immune system effectively ward off infections from your body.

As such, you might see yourself coming down with more illnesses when you sleep less.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SLEEPING WELL?

Benefits of sleeping
It’s benefits are unending. But to list a few;
– Sleep boosts your mental well being
– It increases fertility
– It prevents or slows down certain diseases such as diabetes mellitus.
– It boosts your immunity.
– It increases your sex drive.
– It wards off heart problems.

HOW DO I COMPENSATE FOR A LOST SLEEP?

If you don’t get enough sleep, there’s only one way to compensate – getting more of it.

It won’t happen with a single early night. If you’ve had months of restricted sleep, you’ll have built up a significant sleep debt, so expect recovery to take several weeks.

Starting on a weekend, try to add on an extra hour or 2 a night. The way to do this is to go to bed when you’re tired, and allow your body to wake you in the morning (no alarm clocks allowed!).

Expect to sleep for upwards of 10 hours a night at first. After a while, the amount of time you sleep will gradually decrease to a normal level.

Don’t rely on caffeine or energy drinks as a short-term pick-me-up. They may boost your energy and concentration temporarily, but can disrupt your sleep patterns even further in the long term. Here’s a guide to sleeping better.