How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

Written by Jennifer-Zumba/Fitness Instructor

We eat right.  We exercise.  We work.  We play.  We live our lives to the fullest.  But, do we get enough sleep?  Probably not.

The facts are we live busy lives.  Between work and family, there really doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get it all done.  Add to that trying to live a healthy lifestyle by going to the gym and eating healthy foods, and it seems that we don’t have time to sleep.

Our bodies, however, require sleep in order to recharge our systems and help keep us healthy.

So how much sleep do we need?

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the average person requires 7-9 hours of sleep per day.

So, how do we fit 7-9 hours of sleep into our busy lives?  That will require some preparation.  A great tool is a daily journal of activities.  This can help you schedule your time effectively by booking your sleep in much the same way that you book your doctor appointments.

An example might be:

6am – Get up, have breakfast, make lunch

6:30am – Shower, dress, housework

7am – Wake children, prepare them for school

8am – Take children to daycare, go to work

8:30am – Work

12pm – Go for a walk during lunch break

4:30pm – Go to the gym

5:30pm – Pick up children at daycare, go home

6pm – Dinner

7pm – Family time

8pm – Put children to bed

10pm – Go to bed

This would allow 8 hours for sleeping.  Not everyone can work a schedule like that, however, if you create one that works for your life, you can pencil in sleep.

What are some of the benefits of getting that good night’s sleep?

  1. Sleep keeps our heart healthy by reducing stress levels and helping us to regulate our cholesterol and blood pressure
  2. Enough sleep helps to improve our memory by allowing our brain to work in the background
  3. Sleeping helps us to maintain our weight or even to lose some excess fat.  Ghrelin, which is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, stimulates appetite, while Leptin, produced in fat cells, sends a signal to the brain when you are full.  How is this related to sleep?  Well, when we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies don’t create enough Leptin.  When there isn’t enough Leptin, we don’t know when we are full.  When we don’t know when we are full, we eat and eat and eat.  Before you know it, we’ve become obese and there lies a whole new set of health issues!
  4. Not getting enough sleep will slow down our body’s natural ability to process glucose, which can lead to Type 2 Diabetes.
  5. And, don’t forget that enough sleep will keep us from becoming depressed and anxious which are very serious disorders.

Remember that without sleep, our bodies will be more susceptible to diseases like Diabetes and Heart Disease as well as Depression & Anxiety disorders.

If you would like to know more about sleeping to be healthy, here are some links for you to check out:

http://www.better-sleep-better-life.com/benefits-of-sleep.html

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brain_basics/understanding_sleep.htm#how_much

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/lose-weight-while-sleeping

So, for now, Happy Sleeping!!!

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