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We’ve all heard that a good night’s sleep is important for maintaining energy and alertness during the day, but did you know that sleeping for at least eight hours every night can have numerous psychological and physical benefits as well? 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of American adults get less than 7 hours of sleep a night. By CDC standards, this represents sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation has been associated with a number of health conditions, such as increased risk for depression, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. In addition, about 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder, according to the American Sleep Association, the most common of which is insomnia, which affects about 30 percent of people.

While it may seem tempting to sacrifice your evening zzz’s in favor of completing a work project or watching that next Netflix episode, you may miss out on the important health benefits  associated with sleeping more than 7 hours every night. Some of the perks include:

1. Improved immune system. When you’re adequately rested, your body has a higher chance of fighting off unwelcome Intruders like cold and flu bugs. Sleep deprivation is one of the major causes of compromised immune systems. 

  1. Weight loss. When you sleep, your body can focus its efforts on important functions like digestion and muscle repair. Conversely, sleep deprivation can lead to hormone imbalances that increase appetite and decrease the feeling of “fullness” after eating, leading to snacking and calorie consumption. 
  2. Improved memory. One of the important functions of sleep is memory consolidation and storage. Studies have shown that getting a good night’s rest can actually improve memory.
  3. More focus. Adequate sleep can significantly boost focus and attention. When the brain and body are not fully rested, we become more easily distracted and prone to daydreaming, procrastination, and feelings of “foggy headedness.”
  4. Mental health benefits. Studies have shown that sleeping for eight or more hours can improve symptoms of mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Sleep deprivation and sleep disruption affect the body’s hormone and chemical balance, which can then lead to or exacerbate mental health issues.

Chronic sleep deprivation is a major issue that affects a significant percentage of the population. In order to combat the effects of the lack of sleep, you will need to consistently achieve 8 hours or more of sleep every night for several days or even weeks. Remember, the amount of time you spend in bed does not equal the amount of sleep you got. If you are curious about how many hours you’re actually sleeping each night, try using a sleep tracker or enrolling in a sleep study.

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