No matter which health issue you may complain about to your doctor, getting sufficient sleep is often one of the primary remedies that she/he prescribes for the ailment in question. That proves just how imperative sleep is for our overall health and functionality. Lack of sufficient sleep (usually any amount less than 7 to 9 hours for adults or 8 to 10 hours for teens) is associated with a slew of health issues including reduced alertness, problems with memory, aggravation in symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Given that more teens and adults are sleeping less than before and not achieving the recommended numbers of hours, more people are likely experiencing the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation. This is why researchers in Seattle recently looked into purposely extending sleep times for teens in the Seattle School District. Researchers found that by delaying school start times from 7:50am to 8:45am, students slept almost 34 minutes more on average per night thus bringing them closer to the recommended hours of sleep. The extra half an hour of sleep was found to also increase students’ grades by an average of 4.5 percent as well as improve attendance rates. The results make sense given the importance of sleep to brain function, mood, as well as overall well-being.
The study in Seattle mentioned above demonstrates just how important it is to get the recommended hours of sleep every night. While the study shows how extra sleep can aid academic performance amongst teens, it wouldn’t be a far stretch to assume that adequate sleep will mean similar benefits for adults, whether it is an improvement in well-being, or better performance and less truancy at work. While delaying school start times and/or even getting to bed earlier seems like a good start to improving performance and health, it would also be helpful to look into our sleep habits and whether or not they favour good sleep.
“Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency”. Retrieved from www.nhlbi.nih.gov.
“Teen sleep linked to achievement (In Brief)” (2019). Retrieved from www.apa.org.