It’s summer. There is an endless list of activities available at any moment—from hiking to biking to river trips to concerts and so much more. This—plus longer days and shorter nights—can result in some serious sleep deprivation. But shorter nights don’t necessarily mean you can short yourself on sleep.
Sleep is critical to overall health. It enables the body to rest and recharge and is also needed for important physiological processes such as hormone regulation, which affects immune function and overall health. Sleep has distinctive stages throughout the night, referred to as “sleep cycles.” Each stage of sleep provides different benefits to our physiological and emotional health. Some stages of sleep help us to feel rested, whereas others help us learn or make memories.
Sleep is essential to our emotional and physical wellbeing. It is a time during which the body can rest and the mind can sort things out. In fact, sleep is sometimes referred to as an opportunity for the brain to perform “housekeeping” tasks, such as organizing long-term memory, integrating new information, and repairing and renewing cells and tissues.
The average person needs six to eight hours of sleep per day, but most of us don’t get as much as we need. Sleep deprivation can lead to more than drowsiness and irritability—it can affect concentration, impair performance, compromise the immune system, and result in significant mood swings and erratic behavior.
Make Sleep a Priority
Summer is no excuse to slip into sleep deprivation. If the long days and warm temps are interfering with your sleep, take steps to ensure you can get a full night of shut-eye every night.
Sleep is not a waste of time. It is a vital and necessary biological function. Skimp on sleep and you’re more likely to gain weight and lose fitness. Take care of your health—give yourself the gift of sleep.