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How Does Sleep Affect Your Health?

Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night. Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. How you feel while awake depends, in part, on what happens while you are sleeping. During sleep, your body works to support healthy brain function and maintain physical health.

In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development. Sleep deprivation over time can raise your risk for long-term health problems and affect your ability to think, react, work, learn and your relationships with others.

On average, people who get less than seven hours of sleep per night face a much higher risk of: 

  • High Blood Pressure: During normal sleep, your blood pressure goes down. Having sleep issues means your blood pressure stays higher for longer
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Diabetes is a disease that causes sugar to build up in your blood, and some studies show that getting enough good sleep can help improve blood sugar control
  • Obesity: Lack of sleep can lead to unhealthy weight gain, especially in children and adolescents. Not getting enough sleep may affect a part of the brain that controls hunger

Some sleep disorders that can affect sleep include:

  • Sleep Apnea: A sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts
  • Insomnia: Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both

As many as 1 in 2 adults experience short-term insomnia at some point, and 1 in 10 may have long-lasting insomnia.

A few ways to help get better sleep are:

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on weekends
  • Get enough natural light, especially earlier in the day. Try going for a first thing in the morning or lunchtime walk
  • Get enough physical activity during the day. Try not to exercise within a few hours of bedtime
  • Avoid artificial light, especially within a few hours of bedtime. Use a blue light filter on your computer or smartphone
  • Don’t eat or drink within a few hours of bedtime; avoid alcohol and foods high in fat or sugar, in particular
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet

If these tips don’t work, work with your healthcare team to identify obstacles to good sleep, including other medical conditions.

WCH’s Sleep Disorders Center is dedicated to using the latest sleep study technology to detect problems and, in most cases, correct them.

Find out if a sleep study is right for you. To schedule an appointment with our board-certified fellowship-trained specialist, call (419) 373-4173.