When it comes to sleep, a fine balance is needed.
Most of us get too little sleep. Juggling work demands, job stress, and family can all take a toll on the amount and quality of our sleep. We may feel we need more of it but the amount of sleep actually depends on many factors such as your age, job, lifestyle, and health in general. Our sleep vary depending on the stage of life we are at. Growing adolescents sleep much longer than working adults and the elderly for example.
Our sleep also depends on our health. We may feel we need more sleep and rest when we are recuperating from a sickness. People who are disposed to depression have also shown that they need more bed hours. Despite these factors, in general, a person needs 7 to 9 hours of bedtime every day. This is the requirement for one to function healthily and normally.
We already know that too few hours of sleep can pose health problems. The effects of insufficient sleep are rather immediate and painful. Dozing off during meetings is commonplace. Drinking 4 to 5 cups of coffee a day in order to stay awake during a work day is not very nice smelling on the breath and palate. There are longer term implications too that can do more damage to health such as heart diseases. But what about sleeping too much? Is it harmful too?
Studies have shown that people who suddenly up their bedtime hours face an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and even death. This is because increasing the number of hours in bed could mean a deterioration of health; hence, the sudden need to rest more. But that does not mean that everyone who sleeps more than 9 hours have a health problem. The person could be young and healthy for that matter. However if you are loving your bed a little too much and if you’re sleeping more than the 9 hours – a sudden jump from your usual bed routine — you could be facing some issues that are best checked and verified by a doctor.
Too little or too much sleep can indeed be damaging to health. Let’s look at how so:
Increased risk of obesity
Studies have shown that sleeping too little or much can both lead to obesity. A lack of sleep is reported to stimulate appetite, causing an uptake for food. You might find yourself heaping on larger food portions. In addition, insufficient sleep can also increase one’s craving for sugary, salty, and high-carbohydrate foods –- foods that could pack on the pounds.
When we are groggy and tired, we pay less attention to what we eat. But most importantly, we have less energy to be alert and disciplined to food choices. This would result in us dishing more unhealthy and unwholesome foods to our plate unknowingly.
Save your heart
If too little sleep is bad for your heart, then we should aim to sleep more right? Wrong. Studies have shown that too little sleep -– less than 7 hours and too much sleep – 9 hours and more – have been shown to cause cardiovascular health problems in participants. Sleeping too few hours for an extended period of time will up the chance of you getting a stroke or other cardiovascular diseases. The extended period of time could be anywhere between months to years. The only way to save your heart, among other health habits you adopt, is to moderate your shuteye time.
A depressed mind
A lack of sleep can cause depression and anxiety and these can cause big and lasting impacts on your life. When you have depression from lack of sleep, you’re bringing your sleeping woes to the day time. Your depression can affect your work, relationships, and lifestyle. Research has also pointed that depressed people also sleep more hours than average, a habit that could worsen their depression.
Another medical problem from under-and over sleeping is diabetes. Studies have shown that people who averaged more than 9 hours or less than 5 hours a night are prone to this condition.
Headaches & drowsiness
Ever woken from a headache from sleeping too much over the weekend? This is the effect oversleeping has on neurotransmitters in the brain, WebMD says. Having too little sleep the night before can also cause pounding headaches when you wake up.
The risks of insufficient sleep are significant if you operate machinery or drive for that matter. Drowsiness is a common result and this poses a weightier risk for those needing to work with dangerous machines or equipment in labs and factories for example. Driving to a meeting when you’re about to fall asleep on the road is a high safety hazard. It’s true you can walk the drowsiness off but the risks remain.
Slow cognitive ability
Your mind reacts slower to situations and your try to recall things. This is an after effect of insufficient sleep. You are unable to process things quickly. A lack of sleep can impair your cognitive capability. Needless to say, this is bad for work performance.
Appearance takes a toll
If you have saucer-like eye bags, no amount of makeup can help. Prolonged lack of sleep can create tired-looking puffy eyes, sallow skin, and prominent lines on the face. It will also hasten ageing as collagen –- the gel that holds it together — breaks down.
A lack of sleep can cause your health to nosedive, increasing the risks of death particularly from cardiovascular diseases. Similarly, there is a link of oversleeping to high incidence of death. Either way, it’s bad.
Whether you are facing any sleeping problems, ensuring a healthy dose of average 7 to 9 hours a day will help in maintaining good health. To do so, get your sleep environment conducive enough. Ban electronic equipment before night time. Avoid heavy meals and alcohol close to bedtime and try to wake and sleep the same time every day.