Sleep is very important for your health and well-being. It is just as important as a healthy diet and regular physical activity, and maybe, even more critical. Sleep Awareness Week, is observed every year by the National Sleep Foundation to educate people about the importance of getting optimal sleep. This year, this week-long celebration will be observed from March 10 to 16. This year’s theme “Begin with Sleep” highlights the importance of good sleep health to best achieve your personal, family, and professional goals, and how sleep affects health, well-being, and safety.
The National Sleep Foundation is dedicated to improving health and well-being through sleep education and advocacy. The main goals are to ensure that:
- Sleep is used as a vital sign of health by medical professionals and the public
- The biological sleep/wake process is common knowledge
- Workplaces, schools, homes and transportation infrastructures are designed to be sleep-friendly
- Sleep science is rapidly incorporated into products and services
Since 1991, the National Sleep Foundation has conducted an annual national “Sleep in America” poll to understand the state of sleep in the U.S. population. The aim of the poll is to provide valuable information to the general public and sleep community on specific topics of interest such as: Children and Sleep, Women and Sleep, and Technology and Sleep. According to the 2018 Sleep in America® Poll, a majority of American adults (65%) think sleep contributes to next day effectiveness. Great sleepers realize the benefit, yet only 10% of people give it the deserved importance over other aspects of daily living such as fitness/nutrition, work, social life, and hobbies/personal interests.
As sleep problems can cause many health concerns, they need to be addressed at the earliest. According to a Healthline article, the Western environment interferes with natural sleep patterns. People now sleep less than they did in the past, and sleep quality has decreased as well. Here are five reasons why it’s so important to get a good night sleep:
- Keeps your heart healthy: Not sleeping enough sleep can affect your health. Experts say that sleeping less than 7-8 hours per night is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Lack of sleep has been associated with worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart disease and stroke. For heart health, try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
- Helps prevent cancer: According to the National Sleep Foundation, there is some evidence of a link between insufficient sleep and the risk of cancer. A study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that the rate of breast cancer was 30 percent higher for the women who had worked shifts. Researchers think that light exposure reduces melatonin levels, the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. It is believed that melatonin suppresses the growth of tumors and protects against cancer. To help your body produce melatonin naturally, keeping your bedroom dark at night and turn off all technology like your phone, computer, and television screen which are called blue lights, 2-3 hours before bedtime. These blue lights are known to interrupt sleep. Melatonin production can also be increased by getting enough sun during the day.
- Poor sleep can make you gain weight: Lack of sleep is a common risk factor for weight gain and obesity. So try to get quality sleep if you’re trying to lose weight.
- Improves concentration and productivity: Sleep deprivation has been shown to affect brain function. To improve problem-solving skills and enhance memory performance, getting enough sleep is crucial. Sleep enhances brain function, including cognition, concentration, productivity, and performance.
- Can cause stress and depression: If you do not get proper sleep, your body and mind will become stressed. Chronic sleep deprivation could lead to mental health issues such as depression. Sleeping well could improve mood and mental health.
Join the National Sleep Foundation in celebrating its annual Sleep Awareness Week!