Talk with the Doc

Impact of sleep on overall health important

Dr. Jim Surrell, Journal columnist

We are now into our wonderful busy holiday season, having just celebrated our Thanksgiving Holiday on the last Thursday of November. We are now all getting ready for our special Christmas and New Year celebrations in a very short time. This is a very busy time of year and this can certainly impact our taking the time to get a proper amount of sleep. Let us now review the very important health benefits of getting the proper amount of sleep that is very important for our ongoing overall health.

Sleep is a behavioral state that is a very important natural part of every individual’s life. Overall, we spend about one-third of our lives asleep, and we all need to know the importance of this essential part of every day. Sleep is not just something to fill in time when a person is not active. Sleep is a required activity, not an option. Getting the proper amount of sleep is very important for us to have normal motor function in our muscles and for our brain to work properly when we are awake. We all recognize and feel the need for sleep. After sleeping, we recognize that changes have occurred, and we will feel rested and more alert.

Numerous scientific studies continue to prove that getting the proper amount of sleep is very important to maintain good health. Studies show that not getting enough sleep or getting poor quality sleep on a regular basis increases the risk of having high blood pressure, heart disease, and other medical conditions. In addition, during sleep, our body produces valuable hormones that help us maintain good health. Getting the proper amount of sleep helps our immune system fight various infections. This explains why a good night’s sleep helps keep us from getting various illnesses and also helps us to more rapidly recover when we do become ill.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult in the USA today may sleep less than 7 hours per night. In today’s fast-paced society, it is not uncommon for people to get only 5 or 6 hours of sleep per night. They may think this will add to their productivity but, in reality, less than seven hours of sleep for an adult can lead to problems. Again, let me emphasize that getting enough sleep will improve our immune system function and also helps our nervous system to work properly. Likewise, too little sleep can leave us feeling drowsy and unable to concentrate. Lack of sleep also impairs memory and overall physical performance. Further, research studies now show that both too little sleep (less than 7 hours) and too much sleep (more than 9 hours) can lead to an increased risk of weight gain in adults.

As we get older, our sleeping patterns may change. Current research shows that older adults tend to sleep more lightly and awaken more frequently during the night than do younger adults. However, there is no evidence that older adults need less sleep than do younger adults. Further, do not ever think that if you do not get enough sleep during the week, you can make it up on week-ends with longer sleep times. This is completely not true. We adults all need to get our 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.

So, how many hours of sleep are enough for you? Current research shows it is best for all adults to have about 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep every night. If you feel drowsy during the day, even during boring activities, you may not be getting enough sleep. The bottom line is that all adults still need at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each and every night. Because this is so important to our long term health, if you are having sleep difficulties, talk to your personal health care provider and consider seeing a sleep medicine specialist.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Jim Surrell is the author of “The ABC’s For Success In All We Do” and the “SOS (Stop Only Sugar) Diet” books.Contact Dr. Surrell by email at sosdietdoc@gmail.com.


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