Why is sleep important?

Sleep is essential for overall health and well-being, playing a critical role in physical health, mental health, and quality of life. Adequate sleep supports the healing and repair of the heart and blood vessels, helps maintain a healthy balance of hormones, and supports immune function. Good sleep improves brain function, enhancing learning, problem-solving skills, and emotional regulation, while also contributing to better productivity, performance, and safety in daily activities.

The amount of sleep needed varies by age. Adults generally require 7-9 hours of sleep per night, teenagers need 8-10 hours, and children need 9-12 hours per night for those aged 6-12, and 10-14 hours for preschoolers. A consistent sleep schedule is crucial for maintaining overall health and well-being. {{{Paruthi S, Brooks LJ, D'Ambrosio C, et al. Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine on the Recommended Amount of Sleep for Healthy Children: Methodology and Discussion. J Clin Sleep Med. 2016;12(11):1549-1561. Published 2016 Nov 15. doi:10.5664/jcsm.6288}}}

Sleep efficiency is the ratio of the total time spent asleep to the total time spent in bed, expressed as a percentage. High sleep efficiency (85% or higher) indicates good sleep quality, whereas low sleep efficiency can be a sign of sleep disturbances or insomnia. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is a stage of sleep characterized by vivid dreaming and increased brain activity. It is essential for cognitive functions such as memory consolidation, learning, and mood regulation. Deep sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep, is crucial for physical restoration, growth, and immune function. During deep sleep, the body repairs muscles and tissues, stimulates growth and development, and boosts immune function. {{{Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research; Colten HR, Altevogt BM, editors. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2006. 2, Sleep Physiology. Available from:}}}

To get enough REM and deep sleep, it is important to establish a routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Creating a sleep-conducive environment by keeping the bedroom dark, cool, and quiet, limiting blue light exposure from screens at least an hour before bedtime, exercising regularly, and managing stress through relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing before bed can all help improve sleep quality. {{{Rausch-Phung, E. & Singh, A. (2024, March 22). How to Get More Deep Sleep: Tips for a Restful Night. Sleep Foundation.}}}

Wearable health trackers like Fitbit, Apple Watch, and Garmin devices provide valuable insights into sleep patterns. These devices can monitor sleep duration, sleep stages, sleep efficiency, and restlessness, helping users identify sleep patterns and potential issues. Tracking these metrics enables individuals to make informed decisions to improve their sleep quality.

Where can I learn more?

  1. The National Sleep Foundation - What is Sleep Quality?
  2. Huberman Lab - Dr. Matt Walker: The Science & Practice of Perfecting Your Sleep
  3. Cleveland Clinic - Sleep: What It Is, Why It's Important, Stages, REM & NREM