Why We Need Sleep
Why We Need Quality Sleep
At Moanui we understand the importance of a good night’s sleep. To reflect this we have decided to write a series of articles about the science and understanding of sleep as part of overall health and wellbeing. The first part of our Sleep series starts at the beginning – Why We Need Sleep
Sleep isn’t optional. Sleep is like water and food, humans need sleep to survive. We often hear of stories of people who survive on little sleep, such as Margaret Thatcher who infamously only had 4 hours sleep per night. The truth is we need a decent amount of quality sleep everyday and week to simply be able to function as normal human beings.
The reasons for needing quality sleep are numerous. From biological to emotional there are literally thousands of pages of documented evidence about why we need quality sleep, and there is even a monthly scientific and medical journal featuring sleep-related research. Rather than cite every scientific paper and study that has been written on the subject here are what we consider to be some of the main reasons you need between 7-9 hours sleep every night.
Sleep plays an important role in our physical health. When we sleep our bodies rest, decreasing blood pressure and our heart rate. Scientists believe sleep keeps the immune system working, keeps heart and blood vessels healthy, helps repair tissues, regulate appetite and weight, and supports healthy growth and development.
A lack of sleep will affect your ability to function normally and can have an effect on your physical health such as weight gain, high blood pressure and heart problems, to name a few.
Sleep has also been scientifically proven to help athletes perform better. Such studies have shown that by increasing nightly sleep by just a couple of hours athletes performed better on coordination, fitness and recovery time, whereas those who were sleep deprived suffered in their sport.
Sleep is known to make us feel better. Quality sleep (7-9 hours per night) helps us feel happier, more energetic, more alert and better able to function. The reasons are not yet fully understood, but two theories are that sleep helps us to process and consolidate new memories, and also form new connections between neurons in our brain. Quality of sleep has a significant impact on mood, energy level and ability to concentrate. Many studies over the years have also shown that high quality sleep aids those who suffer from mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
While we sleep we often dream. Dreaming is thought to aid and consolidate memory processing. Scientists that study sleep believe it does serve a primary purpose and is a biological process the body needs to go through.
Researchers at the University of California found that quality sleep played an important part in feelings of gratitude and appreciation between romantic partners. The research showed that poor sleep reduced people’s sense of appreciation for partners, diminished feelings of gratitude, and increased feelings of selfishness.
Other studies have also looked at the relationship between quality sleep and fertility and sex drive. In one such study researchers found that even an additional hour of sleep increased the likelihood of sex with a partner. While another study found that men who had quality sleep had higher sperm counts than those who suffered from sleep deprivation or sleep disorders.
CHILDREN & ADOLESCENTS
All children need quality sleep to aid physical, intellectual, behavioural and emotional development. Even teens need a good sleep, as deep sleep triggers the body to release the hormone that promotes growth. Recommendations for sufficient sleep amounts for children vary by age, but at all stages children need at least 9 hours of sleep per night. Younger children need in excess of 10-11 hours nightly.
Sleep is critical to so many aspects of our health and wellbeing that it is of the utmost importance that we gain quality sleep on an ongoing basis. There are many reasons that people have problems sleeping, some are temporary while others are more long term and detrimental.