Good Sleep for Good Health
Good Sleep Sometimes, the pace of modern life barely gives you time to stop and rest. It can make getting a good night’s on a regular basis seem like a dream.
But is as important for good health as diet and exercise. Good improves your brain performance, mood, and health.
Not getting enough quality regularly raises the risk of many diseases and disorders. These range from heart disease and stroke to obesity and dementia.
There’s more to good than just the hours spent in bed, says Dr. Marishka Brown, a sleep expert at NIH. “Healthy sleep encompasses three major things,” she explains. “One is how much sleep you get. Another is quality—that you get uninterrupted and refreshing sleep. The last is a consistent sleep schedule.”
People who work the night shift or irregular schedules may find getting quality extra challenging. And times of great stress—like the current pandemic—can disrupt our normal routines. But there are many things you can do to improve your.
Why do we need? People often think that is just “down time,” when a tired brain gets to rest, says Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, who studies sleep at the University of Rochester.
“But that’s wrong,” she says. While you sleep, your brain is working. For example, helps prepare your brain to learn, remember, and create.
Nedergaard and her colleagues discovered that the brain has a drainage system that removes toxins during sleep.
“the brain totally changes function,” she explains. “It becomes almost like a kidney, removing waste from the system.”
Her team found in mice that the drainage system removes some of the proteins linked with Alzheimer’s disease. These toxins were removed twice as fast from the brain during.
Everything from blood vessels to the immune system uses as a time for repair, says Dr. Kenneth Wright, Jr.,researcher at the University of Colorado.
“There are certain repair processes that occur in the body mostly, or most effectively,” he explains. “If you don’t get enough, those processes are going to be disturbed.”
Myths and Truths
How much you need changes with age. Experts recommend school-age children get at least nine hours a night and teens get between eight and 10. Most adults need at least seven hours or more of each night.
One is that adults need less as they get older. This isn’t true. Older adults still need the same amount. But quality can get worse as you age. Older adults are also more likely to take medications that interfere.
Another sleep myth is that you can “catch up” on your days off. Researchers are finding that this largely isn’t the case.
“If you have one bad night’s and take a nap, or longer the next night, that can benefit you,” says Wright. “But if you have a week’s worth of getting too little sleep, the weekend isn’t sufficient for you to catch up. That’s not a healthy behavior.”
In a recent study, Wright and his team looked at people with consistently deficient. They compared them deprived people who got to in on the weekend.
Both groups of people gained weight with lack of sleep. Their bodies’ ability to control blood sugar levels also got worse. The weekend catch-up didn’t help.
On the flip side, more sleep isn’t always better, says Brown. For adults, “if you’re sleeping more than nine hours a night and you still don’t feel refreshed, there may be some underlying medical issue,” she explains.
Some people have conditions that prevent them from getting enough quality , no matter how hard they try. These problems are called sleep disorders.
The most common sleep disorder is insomnia. “Insomnia is when you have repeated difficulty getting to sleep and/or staying asleep,” says Brown. This happens despite having the time to sleep and a proper sleep environment. It can make you feel tired or unrested during the day.
Insomnia can be short-term, where people struggle to sleep for a few weeks or months. “Quite a few more people have been experiencing this during the pandemic,” Brown says. Long-term insomnia lasts for three months or longer.
Sleep apnea is another common sleep disorder, the upper airway becomes blocked during sleep. This reduces or stops airflow, which wakes people up during the night. The condition can be dangerous. If untreated, it may lead to other health problems.
If you regularly have problems sleeping, talk with your health care provider. They may have you keep a diary to track your for several weeks. They can also run tests, including sleep studies. These look for disorders.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, hearing how important it is may be frustrating. But simple things can improve your odds of a good night’s . See the Wise Choices box for tips to better every day.
Treatments are available for many common disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help many people with insomnia get better. Medications can also help some people.
Many people with apnea benefit from using a device called a CPAP machine. These machines keep the airway open so that you can breathe. Other treatments can include special mouthguards and lifestyle changes.
For everyone, “as best you can, try to make a priority,” Brown says. “Sleep is not a throwaway thing—it’s a biological necessity.”