Sleep is a fundamental part of our daily lives. While we emphasis the need for a healthy diet and regular exercise, adequate sleep is equally important.
The average daily duration of sleep recommended for adults is about 7 to 9 hours, with children and adolescents needing more sleep. Unfortunately, in metropolitan cities, the amount of time available for sleep is usually limited.
The benefits of sleep range from physical to mental effects as listed below.
1. Recuperation: During physical activities, our bodies suffer from some degree of wear and tear, and also produce harmful waste products. This is especially true during exercise and manual labour. With adequate sleep, our bodies get the time to heal while disposing of such harmful products.
2. Brain function: Like other parts of the body, the brain also produces some harmful products, which are best disposed of during sleep. This improves brain function, including memory, cognition and concentration.
3. Growth: This is especially important for children and adolescents who are still growing. Growth hormone is produced more during sleep and enhances growth. Also, people that work out to build muscle mass get better results with adequate sleep.
4. Recovery/wound healing: Following most illnesses, especially viral infections like the current COVID-19, the body works to fight the infection irrespective of medications used. This fight is best done during and following adequate sleep as it helps boost the immune system.
5. Mental health: In the short run, poor sleep makes it more difficult to deal with minor stresses of daily life, causing mood changes like irritability and anger. Poor sleep has also been associated with triggering or worsening long-term conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder etc. As we strive to stay healthy, we must ensure that we get proper sleep every day. With proper planning, this is possible.