Why You Need 7 to 9 Hours of Sleep Per Night – And What Happens When You Don’t

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We have all had bad nights of sleep. We have dreaded having to get up and go to work in the morning, spending the day daydreaming of going back to bed. Experts say we all need 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

A woman laying in bed Sleeping Soundly
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At least one-third of Americans don’t according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In fact, they say, “Sleeping less than seven hours per day is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress.”

You may have heard of a circadian rhythm which is your own body’s clock. The Sleep Foundation explains it this way, “Your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It’s also known as your sleep/wake cycle.”

This cycle impacts all of your body’s functions, helping your body manage and regulate chemicals and systems.  It impacts your metabolism and your immune system.  If you are low on sleep, these systems start not functioning properly, as a result, you don’t function properly.

Here’s what you’re missing out on when you don’t get enough rest.

Inability to Focus

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of not sleeping is how hard it is to concentrate or think properly.  Our brains use our time sleeping to restore itself and replenish its energy. Our focus can suffer when our brains are low on energy and memory retention.

Immune System is Taxed

Ever notice when you are run down and exhausted it is easier to get sick? This is because, as mentioned earlier, your body needs a healthy and functioning circadian rhythm to manage chemicals and its immune system. Lack of sleep compromises the process by which your body responds to trouble so that it can fight back.

Hormones Become a Mess 

Not sleeping seriously messes with your hormones. Hormones are responsible for a range of functions in your body.  They can get out of whack quickly, messing with your stress and hunger hormones right away.

This often leads to overeating and eating junk when you are tired. You think your body needs it when it is really just kind of confused and out of whack.  

Crankiness

And last but certainly not least, another sleep-deprived all-star – crankiness!  Other than not feeling well, why are we cranky when we haven’t slept? Being tired increases your body’s stress response.  This means you have less patience to draw on when something happens. Even small everyday frustrations become harder when you have less physical reserves to handle them.

We all know sleep is critical to our well being. We try to sleep so we don’t feel bad and cranky. Hopefully knowing why you feel so lousy will help you navigate times when you are low on sleep, give yourself a bit of grace for the crabbiness and brain fog.

Also, remember not to eat junk. That really isn’t what your body wants, it is just confused. As always strive to get your 7-9 hours each night so that you can feel good and be as healthy as possible.