The Sleep Balance

It’s no news that sleep is one of the most important functions of the human body.  Right up there with diet and exercise, the health benefits of adequate sleep are vast and proven. 

You’re probably familiar with some of the most frequently cited health benefits.


Improved functioning during waking hours.

Trying to get through the day in a sleep fog can be pretty miserable. Of course, when you’re well rested, your brain is sharper, your reflexes respond more quickly, and you can enjoy optimal focus. When you’re firing on all cylinders, you’re naturally more productive. Healthy sleep patterns have even been proven to decrease the risk of car accidents. 


General Health: Heart, Hormones, and Weight. 

Your general health is affected greatly by the sleep (or lack thereof) you’re allowing yourself each night. People who don’t get enough sleep are at higher risk for heart disease and other cardiovascular problems, since deep sleep gives your heart a chance to slow down and benefit from the decrease in blood pressure. Sleep is also critical for hormonal balance, and newer research indicates that restful sleep plays an important role in the body’s ability to maintain a healthy weight. Lack of sleep can even lead to conditions similar to diabetes, since sleep aids in your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. 


Emotional Health. 

According to this WebMD Article, your brain processes your emotion while you sleep. (For you vivid dreamers out there, this probably comes as no surprise.) Lack of sleep has been connected to mood disorders, providing more evidence that sleep is crucial to your emotional wellbeing. Insomnia suffers are five times more likely to develop mood-related maladies like depression, anxiety and panic disorders.

Interestingly, some of the same areas positively affected by adequate sleep are akin to the negative impact of oversleeping. So if you’ve ever wondered if you can sleep too much, here’s some of the drawbacks of getting too many Zs. 


Increased likelihood of depression. 

Too little sleep can lead to mood disorders, but too much sleep can have a similar effect. Research shows that there’s a clear correlation between depression and oversleep. This may be a chicken/egg debate, but regulating your sleep cycle may be one of the most important things you can do to combat depression. 

Diabetes and Weight gain:

The risk of diabetes increases among over-sleepers, as does the likelihood for obesity. WebMD cites a study that sleeping 9-10 hours per night increased the likelihood of obesity over a six-year period by 21% (compared to 7-9 hour sleepers). 


Headaches & Grogginess. 

Just as adequate sleep primes the brain for productivity, oversleep can lead to headaches and grogginess. Folks who allow themselves excessive sleep (even on the weekends) run the risk of sabotaging their night sleep cycle. 


So how much sleep is enough?

Most experts recommend 7-9 hour per night for average adults. Sleeping 9,10+ hours routinely can be classified as too much. Ideally, a balance of adequate (neither too little, nor too much) is best for your body, mind and emotions. Try and resist the urge to sleep in, even on the weekends. 


Tips for a good night’s sleep:


– Turn off the electronics 30 minutes before bed. 

– Cut out caffeine late in the day. 

– Keep naps short (30 minutes or less). 

– Invest in a quality bed that maximizes your comfort level.  

– Stay on Schedule.