We’ve all heard how important a healthy diet, regular exercise, and a good night’s sleep are for your overall health and well-being – and we tend to rank them in that order of importance.
But in fact, sleep may be the single, most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body for both your life and healthspan. Studies show that your sleep cycle and the amount of rest you get are more than just beneficial – they’re instrumental to your longevity, aging, and physical/mental health.
Ago 5, 2020
01Deep sleep, deep cleanse
A study out of the University of Rochester found evidence to suggest that the human brain may actually physically clean itself during sleep[ 1 ]. This literal housekeeping is believed to flush out fluid build-up and waste of any kind between cells.
The researchers described the process like a cleansing river, which reportedly protects the brain from dangerous toxins. It also allegedly ensures the brain is able to continue communicating across cells to establish clear memory formation, thought composition, and even emotion regulation.Key Takeaways A good night’s sleep is even more important to a healthy life than diet or exercise. Clinical studies show that the ideal amount of sleep per night is between 7–9 hours. Getting less than 7 hours of sleep OR greater than 9 hours of sleep has been linked to increased rates of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
02Less sleep, greater senescence
Subjects involved in the study experienced signs of DNA damage in dozens of genes and a senescence-associated inflammatory response in their blood in as little as one day after sleep interruption. And that’s not good news.
Combined, these responses are known to cause increased aging – and can lead to even bigger health problems over time like chronic disease, including Alzheimer's and obesity.
03Why sleep matters
Yet with all the evidence laid out, some questions still remain. What exactly are the benefits of sufficient sleep?
As for aging, enough sleep can slow the onset of wrinkles and help reduce bags under the eyes. Even more importantly, it lowers your risk of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. And chronically, it can help avoid diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
04Is 6 hours of sleep enough?
The short answer is no. Anything less than seven hours of sleep per night for adults is shown to have long-term adverse effects on the body and mind. By the same token, you shouldn’t get more than nine hours of sleep either. Both have been linked to increased physical and mental health issues[ 3 ]. The ideal amount is between 7–9 hours each night – so sleep well, but sleep right!
05Sleep Hygiene Tips
There’s nothing better than a good night’s rest to recover from a hard day’s work. For better sleep:
- Set a schedule. Do your best to go to bed at the same time every day.
- Maintain your bedroom as a sanctuary for sleep – don’t work from your bed or pass the day watching TV in it.
- Do your best to avoid checking the time. Not only will the light wake you up, but it’s also been shown to cause anxiety that negatively impacts sleep.
-  Xie et. al. Science, 2014.
-  Carroll et. al. Brain Behav Immun, 2017.
-  How much sleep do I need?” March 2017, CDC.gov.