We continue to live by a remarkably durable myth: sleeping one hour less will give us one hour more of productivity. In reality, research suggests that even small amounts of sleep deprivation can take a significant toll on our health, mood, cognitive capacity, and productivity.
Two-thirds of adults in developed nations fail to obtain the eight hours of sleep as night recommended by the World Health Organisation.
Without sleep, we have low energy and are more prone to disease. With sleep, we gain vitality and improve our health.
More than 20 large-scale epidemiological studies have reported the same clear correlation: the shorter you sleep, the shorter your life. To take just one example, adults aged 45 years or older, who sleep less than six hours a night, are 200% more likely to have a heart attack or stroke in their lifetime when compared to those who sleep seven or eight hours a night.
Sleep has a powerful effect on the immune system, which is why, when we have flu, our first instinct is to go to bed; our body is trying to sleep us back to full health. Reduce sleep, even for a single night, and your resilience is drastically reduced. Similarly, if you are tired, you are more likely to catch a cold.
The recommended seven to eight hours of sleep is mainly for adults, including older adults. Younger people may need more sleep. See the table below for the recommended amount of sleep by age.
It’s easy to say but how can we make it a reality in our busy modern life? First and most important, you must make the sleeping the recommended amount a priority. The term “sleep hygiene” refers to a series of healthy sleep habits that can improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. These habits are a cornerstone of cognitive behavioural therapy, the most effective long-term treatment for people with chronic insomnia. Follow these tips, and you will establish healthy sleeping habits:
Finally, remind yourself that sleep is not a luxury, it’s a necessity for your health, and you need it for optimal functioning.
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