Why is Sleep Important for Our Health?

As work, friends and life stresses can make us neglect our sleep, it’s more imperative than ever to keep yourself on a good sleep routine. But why do we need it?

Sleep, in the modern age, can almost be an afterthought. In “hustle culture,” the lack of it can almost be championed in some circles. The point of sleep is to recharge your batteries and function more healthily throughout the day. Rest will give you the clarity you need to solve life’s hardest problems, and the strength to physically endure life’s stressors calmly.

The mental and physical health benefits to getting a “good” night’s sleep varies as people get older – some people can function okay with 6 hours, others may require 10. Generally, the sweet spot to aim for is 7-9 hours of sleep. At DOCS Urgent Care, we stress the importance of sleep to all of our clients, and our doctors are able to conduct a sleep study to help you. Sleep is necessary for every human being.

Mental Health: Functioning On Lack of Sleep

Have you ever “woken up on the wrong side of the bed?” Have you lashed out at people or were less willing to tolerate little grievances due to lack of sleep?

General crankiness is one of the most common signs that you are not sleeping well. This anger or impatience can seep through the little cracks of your brain throughout your day. This can lead to serious consequences when you’re at work, with your family, or in the car.

Mental health symptoms of insomnia may include:

  • Irritability
  • Lack of focus or concentration

Of course, the benefits of sleep don’t just end there. Sleep can help you to better manage mental health problems you may be living with. When your brain is sleep deprived, you may not be able to cope as effectively with obstacles throughout your day.

Sleep can help with the following mental health conditions:

  • Anxiety (Generalized Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, etc.)
  • Depression (including major depressive disorder and dysthymia)*
  • Bipolar disorder 1 and 2

*Depression can actually lead to too much sleep – keep an eye on how much rest you’re really getting and find ways to get yourself out of bed. If this is too much of a struggle for you, reach out to us through Telemedicine and we will get to work developing a plan on how to deal with your depression and get your sleep back on track.

Physical Health: Rest Is Important for the Body

Sleep can be rejuvenating for the body, not just for the mind. Your body needs restful sleep, otherwise it risks developing lifelong conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and obesity.

Physical symptoms of lack of sleep include:

  • Tension headaches
  • Struggling to stay awake during the day (at work, while driving, etc.)
  • Constantly yawning
  • Reliance on caffeine to get through the day

Caffeine in particular is a popular method for people who are struggling to stay awake to get that ‘kick’, which can lead to caffeine dependence. Having a caffeine dependence has its own set of problems such as jitteriness and headaches when you do not have access to it.

It can be tempting to use alcohol, marijuana or other drugs to “make” yourself fall asleep, but without the REM sleep you get from clean and sober sleep, you will have more memory problems overall. We cannot stress this enough: do not use drugs or alcohol to help yourself fall asleep. It will only cause problems in the long run.

According to the Harvard Medical Journal, “When we are sleep deprived, our focus, attention, and vigilance drift, making it more difficult to receive information. Without adequate sleep and rest, overworked neurons can no longer function to coordinate information properly, and we lose our ability to access previously learned information.”

The Overall Healthier You

When the body and mind are properly rested, you are able to handle the stresses of life more effectively, which leads to healthier choices in your life overall. You won’t need sugary foods to keep you awake for quick energy, and can focus on maintaining a healthy diet. Your mind won’t be overwhelmed with feelings of sleepiness, so you can better handle your daily activities and anxieties that come with disorders such as GAD, OCD and PTSD.

When a person gets the sleep they need, they become the healthiest version of themselves.

There are a few ways to clean up your “sleep hygiene,” such as:

  • Limiting naps to 20 minutes per day, to avoid grogginess overall (fight the urge to make it last as long as possible)
  • Prioritizing sleep and making sure you stick to a sleep schedule daily
  • Sleeping in a room that is 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit, in a dark environment
  • Turning off blue-light 15-30 minutes before bed, so your brain is less likely to stay awake
  • Limiting the use of drugs or alcohol to induce sleep, as it may reduce the use of REM sleep overall

At DOCS Medical Group, we take pride in helping our clients and patients get the rest they need to lead healthy lives. We can set up a sleep study especially for you and can recommend sleep clinics in the area that can help you deal with the problem. No matter why you’re suffering from restless sleep or insomnia, we’re here for you.

Give us a call today or walk-in to one of our DOCS Urgent Care facilities to talk to one of our physicians. We look forward to speaking with you.

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