The Importance of a Healthy Sleep Schedule

Kailey Torres

Many people overlook the importance of sleep. Many people believe they can “make up” for the lack of sleep. However, people still decide to deprive themselves of those precious hours that the brain craves. Unfortunately, people’s sleep schedules aren’t getting any better during the quarantine. 

 

Sleep plays a huge role in our physical health because it is involved with healing and repairing our heart and blood vessels. National Institute of Health (NIH) states, “Lack of sleep impairs reasoning, problem-solving, and attention to detail, among other effects.” 

 

NIH includes that a few researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center discovered a system in the brain’s glial cells (non-neuronal cells in the central nervous system) called the glymphatic system. The researchers found that “cerebrospinal fluid, a clear liquid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, moves through the brain along a series of channels that surround blood vessels” is drained because of the discovered system. 

 

If the glymphatic system isn’t given the chance to drain the hurtful liquid, it can cause great damage. It has been found that individuals with Alzheimer’s disease have a large accumulation of the cerebrospinal fluid in their brains. 

 

This is one example of an important system the body and brain have to undergo when the body sleeps. It is clear to see that if an individual doesn’t sleep the recommended hours a night, one of many systems can be harmed and it will take a large toll on the individual’s brain function. However, not only does the lack of sleep affect one’s brain, but it also largely impacts their health.

 

Healthline’s article How Does Seven to Eight Hours of Sleep Affect Your Body? stated, “When you sleep, your immune system releases compounds called cytokines. Some cytokines have a protective effect on your immune system by helping it to fight inflammation, including inflammation due to infection.” The cytokines prevent an individual from getting sick, therefore, when the individual isn’t getting enough sleep, they are more likely to come down with a common cold. 

 

An unhealthy sleeping schedule can increase an individual’s risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and experiencing a stroke. Healthline also includes that the lack of sleep affects the body’s release of insulin, a hormone released by the pancreas, which could lead to the individual having high blood sugar levels. Health states that having high blood sugar “damages nerves, blood vessels, and organs, setting the stage for dangerous complications.”

 

Having minimal hours of sleep can do more than affect one’s mental and physical health, it can also increase an individual’s chance of getting into an accident. The CDC included in one of their articles about drowsy driving that “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013.” The astonishing number goes to show how common and easy it is to underestimate the importance of a good night’s rest.

 

For all those reasons and more, it is important for all ages to have a consistent and healthy sleep schedule. LiveWell with UnityPoint Health included a highly recommended number of hours of sleep each age group should be getting per night. 

 

Newborns = 16-18 hours 

Preschool-aged children = 11-12 hours

School-aged children = 10 hours

Teens = 9-10 hours

Adults 18+ (including elders) = 9-10 hours

 

Being stuck in quarantine makes it very easy for people to fall off their sleep schedule. Having nowhere to go the next morning reminds individuals that they can sleep in and don’t have to worry about the time they fall asleep, especially with students having virtual instruction allows them to go to sleep, wake up, and get to work whenever they please. The lack of rest per night and inconsistent sleep schedule can hurt many students and adults during this time. 

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