With the hectic lives many people lead today, getting a good night’s sleep is more important than ever.  Yet many people find themselves extending their waking hours in order to accomplish their long lists of things to get done.  Between work, family obligations, and infinite chores and responsibilities, it seems almost impossible to get to bed at a reasonable hour and experience lack of sleep.  Adequate sleep is, however, important for your overall health and well-being. Although adults have different needs for sleep, at least 7-9 hours a night seems to be the magic number.

Sleep is one of our body’s basic needs.  It is required for many physiological and psychological functions such as tissue repair and growth.  Insufficient sleep has been linked to obesity and diabetes because it negatively affects glucose metabolism.  Lack of sleep also raises production of cortisol, a hormone the body produces in response to stress. It lowers immunity in the body which can lead to infections or illness.

Lack of sleep also affects how well our minds work.  Our cognitive function and memory recall can suffer as a result of inadequate sleep.  Ability to concentrate diminishes as well. In addition, decision-making skills are adversely affected.

The relationship between health and sleep is a complex one.  When you’re faced with a slew of things to get done but not enough hours in the day, it may seem like a good idea to burn the midnight oil.  The next time you’re tempted to short yourself on sleep, consider the potential health consequences and think twice.

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