We spend nearly a third of our lives asleep, but how much do we really know about sleep? Most adults need between six and 8 hours of sleep a day. Younger children usually require more sleep, and older adults tend to need less. One thing’s for sure: Your body and your mind need sleep — and you could jeopardize your health without enough of it.
Sleep less, gain more
Getting enough sleep helps keep your heart healthy. If you don’t get enough sleep, you might spend idle time eating, and the extra calories add up fast.
More seriously, sleep deprivation can hurt your cardiovascular, endocrine, immune and nervous systems. This can lead to higher blood pressure, irregular heartbeats and inflammation of the arteries. These are risk factors that can eventually cause coronary heart disease.
Exercise helps sleep
Many people also complain that stress and anxiety keep them up at night, but regular exercise relaxes your body, contributes to restful sleep and helps manage stress and anxiety.
Alcohol and caffeine
Although drinking alcohol may reduce the amount of time it takes for you to fall asleep, studies have shown that too much of it can affect the quality of your sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you from falling asleep at a reasonable hour. Try to avoid it before bedtime.
A healthy lifestyle is all about moderation, balance and conscious behavior. It’s easy to put sleep on the back burner, especially if you have a family you’re responsible for. Just remember that getting enough sleep is essential to your health. Visit heart.org for more information.