There's a reason you're meant to spend a third of your life in slumber — good health depends on it. Most people need seven or eight hours of sleep each night. During sleep:
- Your brain sorts the important elements of the day from the unimportant and stores memories, allowing for more efficient long-term memory recall
- Your body regulates hormones such as cortisol (to help manage stress), human growth hormone (to repair muscle tissue), insulin (to regulate blood glucose) and others
- Cell turnover rids waste from your cells, leaving the immune system restored
Chronic sleep deprivation impairs attentiveness, coordination and reaction time. It also increases the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes and depression. And sleepiness is an all-too-common cause of accidents and fatalities in the workplace and on highways.
Making sleep a priority takes time and patience, just like any other health behavior change. To get started, identify and confront the challenges that are robbing you of your sleep.