Health

Three Urgent Sleep Facts You Have to Know Now

If you think getting a good night's rest is all just a big yawn, these brutal realities could be an eye-opener

Here’s a blunt truth.

Our bodies need sleep — real, honest-to-goodness, snooze-through-the-night rest — to repair our cells.

Our brains integrate and retain new concepts and experiences when we sleep well. We can concentrate better and perform our jobs with more accuracy and insight.

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But without it — and especially if our blue-light emitting devices keep us awake — well, that’s a problem.

“Sleep is important for the way we think,” Patty Tucker, a sleep specialist and physician’s assistant in the Napa Valley area, told this writer.

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“Memory and learning are consolidated during REM sleep. Sleep is the most important tool we have in terms of maintaining not just our health, but our creativity and productivity.”

If we don’t get enough sleep:

  • We can become more distracted, more rigid and more inflexible in our decision-making.
  • We can become more prone to burnout and depression.
  • And yes, we can become more vulnerable to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, infection — and even cancer.

This is why the business of sleeping is booming.

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And that’s no yawn.

A 2017 McKinsey report found that the sleep-health industry “is collectively estimated to be worth between $30 billion and $40 billion and has historically grown by more than 8 percent a year, with few signs of slowing down.”

Still think this is all a big snooze?

These three facts alone make the importance of a good night’s rest crystal-clear:

1.) Sleeping the recommended seven to eight hours a night can give us a high-functioning cognitive ability. “The optimum amount of sleep to keep your brain performing its best is seven to eight hours every night, and that corresponds to what the doctors will tell you need to keep your body in tiptop shape as well. We also found that people who slept more than that amount were equally impaired as those who slept too little.” That’s according to Conor Wild, a lab research associate at Western University in Ontario, Canada, and the lead author of a recent study on sleep.

2.) Participants in the aforementioned study who slept four hours or less per night performed as if they were almost nine years older. This conclusion could have an impact on many medical conditions — in addition to one’s daily performance at work.

3.) Night owls have a higher mortality rate than those who go to sleep early. That’s according to a recent study from Northwestern University in Illinois and the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom. Those who like to stay up late — then have trouble dragging themselves out of bed in the morning — were also found to have a higher risk for conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and psychological disorders.

Experts stress the following points:

  • Make sleep a priority in your daily life.
  • Create a regular bedtime — and a regular wake time.
  • Sleep in a cool, dark, quiet place.
  • Create a media-free zone in your bedroom.
  • Determine how much sleep you need without an alarm clock and caffeine.

And check out this video:

meet the author

Maureen Mackey served as editor-in-chief and managing editor of LifeZette for nearly five years. Before that, she held senior editorial positions at major publications, helping The Fiscal Times win a MIN Award for Best New Site as managing editor and Reader's Digest win an American Society of Magazine Editors Award for General Excellence as book editor. Her work has appeared in Real Clear Politics, CNBC, A Fine Line, AARP Magazine, Yahoo Finance, MSN, Business Insider, and The Week, among other outlets. She is a member of the Newswomen's Club of New York and the American Legion Auxiliary.

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