The Importance of Sleep

The Importance of Sleep

Sleep is as important for your health as good nutrition and physical activity.  In 1910 the average adult slept 9 hours a night.  That was over 100 years ago.  So, what is happening now?

  • Average adult sleeps 7 hours per night.
  • From surveys 1/3 of adults report daytime sleepiness that adversely affects their daily activities a few days each month.
  • Approximately 70 million American’s have chronic sleep loss.
  • Which costs the U.S. 16 billion in healthcare expenses.
  • Which equates to $50 billion in lost productivity.

Lack of Sleep Causes:

  • Increases in risk taking.
  • Thinking processes slow.
  • Harder to focus and pay attention.
  • Slows reaction time.
  • When people who lack sleep are tested on a driving simulator, they perform just as poorly as people who are drunk.
  • Irritable.
  • Unhappy, greater risk for depression.
  • Easily confused.
  • Faulty decision making.

What Adequate Sleep (good quantity and quality) Does!

Improves Learning

While you are sleeping your brain is forming pathways for learning and memory.  Studies show that people learn a task better if they are well rested. You also remember better something you learned while awake if that night you get a good night’s sleep.  The amount of learning improvement is directly related to how much time you sleep.  For example, those who slept 8 hours outperform those who slept 6 or 7 hours.  And a minimum of 6 hours was necessary for learning improvement.

It is important to get good sleep before learning something new and after learning something new.

Increases Problem Solving & Creativity

Sleep seems to be needed for creative problem solving.  In a study where 2 groups performed a memory task and were then tested on this memory task 8 hours later.  One group was awake for those 8 hours and the other group slept those 8 hours.  Those who slept right after performing the memory task were much more likely to simplify the task and improve their performance.  Your brain is working while you sleep to learn, create new pathways and creatively solve problems.

Controls Weight and Hunger

Sleep is a regulator of appetite, energy use and weight control.  During sleep the body’s production of the appetite suppressor leptin increases.  Studies find that the less people sleep, the more likely they are to be overweight or obese and prefer eating foods that are higher in calories and carbohydrates. People who report an average total sleep time of 5 hours a night, for example, are much more likely to become obese, compared with people who sleep 7–8 hours a night.

Another study found that women who slept less than 7 hours a night were more likely to develop diabetes over time than those who slept between 7 and 8 hours a night.

Improves Your Vascular System

Sleep rests your heart and vascular system.  This nightly decrease in blood pressure is important for cardiovascular health.

Promotes Growth

Sleeping triggers the release of growth hormone which contributes to growth in children and boosts muscle mass and repair of cells and tissues in children and adults.

Improves Your Ability to Fight Infection

Sleep-deprived volunteers given the flu vaccine produced less than half as many flu antibodies as those who were well rested and given the same vaccine.  While you sleep your body creates cytokines.  Cytokines are cellular hormones that help the immune system fight infections.


You should be sleeping 1/3 of your day for an adult, roughly 8 hours.  Research shows that adults need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each ni