Sleep: How Does It Affect Your Health?

A person spends about ⅓ of their life sleeping. The average lifespan is 79 years, and we sleep for about 26 of them. Have you ever wondered why sleep is so important?

The typical teenager should get about eight to ten hours a night, while an adult should get anywhere from six to eight hours. How long you sleep and its quality can impact your health, and we don’t talk about that enough. I’d like to share four major examples of how sleep can affect your health.

How sleep affects your weight: surprisingly, a lack of sleep can lead to weight gain. When you are tired, you tend to gravitate towards foods high in carbohydrates, sugar, and salt. Pasta, bread, and chips are common examples. You are also more likely to be unwilling to get up and exercise. Further, the less sleep you get, the less likely you will be able to lose weight. 

Luckily, just by sleeping you’re doing your part. The Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep cycle, the deepest sleep stage,  burns more calories than any other. It takes about 90 minutes of quality and stable sleep to reach.

Sleep can affect your physical health in two main ways: physical performance, like playing a sport, and physical appearance. 

  • Physical Performance: Have you ever heard your coach or parents tell you to get a good night’s sleep before a big game? There’s an important reason why. Getting quality sleep is crucial for how your body functions. A well-rested body not only ensures a well-rested mind, but can help you to perform better. 

Playing a sport while lacking sleep can be dangerous. You are more prone to injury or muscle aches and pains when you are tired. Along with that, your pain perception can increase because of the lower level of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the body. Serotonin is a chemical that deals with your happiness and well-being. It can be somewhat defective if you are lacking sleep.

  • Physical Appearance: Your sleeping pattern can have a major effect on how you look. Have you ever woken up one day to see under-eye bags and puffy skin? It could be because of your lack of sleep. Not sleeping can take a toll on your hair and skin. The lack of sleep interferes with circulation in your body, potentially causing hair thinning, hair loss, puffy skin, purple under-eyes, under-eye bags and facial wrinkles.

How sleep affects your mental health: Just like your physical health, sleep is a major part of your mental health. One of the worst feelings in the world is waking up from eight hours of sleep and still feeling tired. For obvious reasons, “work” and “tired” do not mix well. Doing school work when all you want to do is go back to bed leads to poor performance. More often than not, you will find yourself focusing on how tired you are rather than paying attention in your classes. 

The constant feeling of fatigue is likely to lead to anxiety, stress, or depression. Not only that, but those feelings can also make it harder to sleep. Therefore, getting the right amount of sleep can protect your mental health.

Overall, getting the right amount of sleep is beneficial to your health. Each night, the average person spends about eight hours asleep. Depending on your age, you should get more or less than that. For more information on the topic of sleep, check out this article: 

(Copyright 2019 Colette Cipriano)

Colette Cipriano

Colette Cipriano a is freshman from Colts Neck, New Jersey. She is a writer at the Oracle and has two white labs named Sonny and Connie at home.