Sleep is so precious. Getting a good night’s sleep will help you begin your day with energy and excitement. Sleep does, however, provide more than energy and getting rid of those bags under your eyes. Sleep is an important piece of the puzzle that is your overall health. The proper amount of sleep provides your body with essential benefits that are needed, while a lack of sleep can be harmful to your body.

Too Little Sleep

Not having enough sleep can cause someone a lot worse side effects than yawning and irritability. Memory loss is just one example. While you sleep, neurons help your brain digest information that you’ve learned throughout that day, and a lack of sleep can affect your brain’s ability to retain information. Sleep deprivation also leaves your brain tired, affecting the brain’s ability to perform. This includes things such as memory retention and concentration.

Another side effect of too little sleep is your immune system doesn’t have the proper amount of time to build up its forces. While you sleep, your body produces protective substances like cytokines, to help combat things like bacteria and viruses. With too little sleep your body doesn’t have the time to build up these defense organisms, therefore weakening your body’s ability to fight off illnesses.

A lack of sleep can also help facilitate things such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

What is the Right Amount?

Currently, the average American sleeps an average of 6.8 hours per night. This number is down by over an hour compared to recent years. The average recommended amount of sleep is somewhere between seven and nine hours for adults. For athletes, however, ten is the minimum recommended amount of sleep hours. Professional athletes like LeBron James and Roger Federer have said that they sleep a minimum of 12 hours a day. Your body needs more time to recover from the strenuous activities that it goes through daily. The more sleep, the more time your body can recover.

Benefits of the Right Amount

Having the right amount of sleep is extremely important to how your body functions and your body’s overall health. A research development conducted at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were on the same consistent sleep routine lost fat at a quicker rate than those who had abnormal sleep schedules.

The right amount of sleep can also decrease stress, anxiety, and depression levels in your body. This is because your brain has the proper amount of time to rest at night, it’s not overworked.

Additional benefits include improved memory, longer attention span,

Steps to Take to Sleep Better

The first step to take is to start a consistent sleep schedule and stick to it, even on the weekends. If you are sleeping excessively more on the weekends, then you aren’t sleeping enough during the week. Setting a “bedtime” can help kick-start your sleep schedule. It’s important to “wind down” before going to sleep as well. Even if you aren’t necessarily tired and ready to go to bed, laying in bed and reading, or something to that effect, will help your body recognize that it’s time to shut it down. However, you’ll want to avoid watching T.V. and playing on your cell phone while in bed. Getting yourself and your brain to recognize that your bed is for sleep and not for watching tv or playing Angry Birds, will allow you fall asleep more quickly.

Sleep is about routine. Stay on a consistent sleep schedule that allows you to get between seven and nine hours. This will help your body’s overall health and functionality and will help lead you to a life of health and happiness.