I don’t run on Dunkin’. I run on sleep. And so do you. In recent years, you’ve probably heard a lot more about the importance of sleep. I know it can get annoying, even stressful, if you feel that you can’t find the time for more sleep or if your brain simply doesn’t seem to allow you to get more than few hours each night. Skimping on sleep is a necessity sometimes but it can become dangerous to pride yourself on your ability to "get by" on little sleep. That's not how the human body works. So, why is sleep so important?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and Sleep Research Society (SRS) recommends 7 or more hours per night on a regular basis to promote optimal health in adults.
Over 35% of adults in the US get less than 7 hours of sleep. And of those who do get over 7 hours, significant numbers report poor quality sleep or waking up feeling un-refreshed. That’s a lot of tired people!
If you drive a car when you have had less than five hours’ sleep, you are 4.3 times more likely to be involved in a crash. If you drive having had four hours or less, you are 11.5 times more likely to be involved in an accident.
In the book, Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker, scientific evidence suggests sleep is intimately tied to cognition and memory, immunity (including development and treatment of cancer) and emotional regulation. The importance of sleep in each of the life stages is truly eye-opening, especially in relation to children and education.
The science is compelling and convinces me to keep sleep on my priority list. My health and well-being are dependent upon it as well as achieving fitness-related goals. If I want to build muscle, I need sleep. If I want better control of appetite, I need sleep. If I want improved impulse control, I need sleep. My hope is that you will explore the realm of sleep science and begin to look at your priorities differently in order to make sleep one of them.
If you struggle to get a decent night’s sleep, try out these healthy sleep tips from the Sleep Foundation.
If your sleep has suffered since the pandemic hit, read these guidelines for sleep during COVID-19 isolation.