When it comes to understand the delicate links between sleeping patterns and our health, to say that it is complex at first glance would be putting it mildly. Of course, once the basics are understood sleep is a generally easy basic necessity to figure out, but it takes attention to detail and time to understand it all in due course. The effects of quality of sleep are obvious (most of the time), but ultimately it is finding the balance, that balance of sleep, that is the hardest part to perfect. As much as we would all love to think that we have our sleeping pattern under control, the reality is that life is busy, and because of that we often fall into chaotic sleeping behaviors that if left unchecked, ultimately become the unhealthiest of patterns. For the longest time, it has been widely (if not wholly) agreed that the ideal number of hours’ sleep a night is seven to nine. But what many people are unaware of is the fact that deviating from this accepted norm (towards either end of the spectrum) can have its own devastating effects on the body.
Sleep is one of the only constant necessities that our bodies must cater to, to function at their peak. We know and understand the difference in the way our sleeping behaviors make us feel, but understanding why they make us feel that way and, more importantly, the lasting impact they have on our bodies and our minds. Our sleeping pattern is just an intricate contributing factor to how everything in our body functions and thrives, and so it is important to understand how it all works in alignment with one another. We spend so much time stressing and placing high importance on our diets and exercise regimes, but we should be spending just as much – if not more – time figuring out our sleep schedules and rewiring them into a healthy habit, rather than a haphazard loop of inconsistencies.
Consider the two polar opposites of the poor sleep spectrum. A lack of sleep (i.e. sleep deprivation) essentially hijacks the body, taking effective control of functions like blood sugar and brain and cognitive functions, twisting them and misaligning them. Similarly, sleeping too often (oversleeping) influences the way our brains act and respond, as well as having a distinct effect on our bodies’ metabolism. Regardless of if one is sleeping more than the recommended nine hours, or less than the ideal seven hours, the effects can be equally as negative, if not catastrophic in the most extreme of cases, in the long run. We all want better sleeping behaviors to be the norm, but it starts with us.
So, the science has spoken. The biology is clear. And the roar of emphasis on the matter is quickly becoming deafening. People ask so often, “when is a good time to buy a mattress?”, but the answer is, quite simply, the best time is always when you feel like you need a change, when you think that changing your mattress could be the solution to strengthening your sleeping pattern. Finally recognized as the key necessity to basic function that it is, our sleeping behaviours are one aspect of our daily lives that we are investing more energy into improving. Nobody wants to be putting themselves in a position of disadvantaging themselves in any way, least of all their health. This is why it is so important for all of us to anchor down and do our best to ensure that we are doing everything we possibly can to instill a healthy approach to sleep – and on an ongoing basis, at that. When our very health depends on it, is there any other choice?
Sleep is important. That much we understand. But when it comes to figuring out exactly why, that is something that takes more time. We all function differently, but ultimately the ideal number of hours’ sleep a night is between seven and nine hours. If we sleep too little, we risk eating into our brain’s time to rest and revitalize. If we sleep too much, there is the risk that we can (and likely will, over time) alter our natural metabolism and brain functions. Either way, not getting adequate sleep does not yield particularly positive results. At the end of the day, sleep is so important because it gives our bodies and our brains the opportunity to rest and rejuvenate, readying us for the next day ahead while storing the memories and information from the day just passed. It might take some time (it usually does), but lulling oneself into a stable sleeping pattern on an ongoing basis is something that people should always be aiming to make a top priority. Our health is too important, and our sleep is a crucial contributing factor to ensuring that health is at its best.