Why is Sleep so Important?

Sleep is extremely important to our health and sense of wellbeing.  Getting enough sleep, at the right times, protects and supports our physical health, mental health, emotional health and quality of life.  

  • Our bodies need sleep in order to restore and repair what we have used or abused during the day 
  • Our brain needs sleep in order to transfer information from our short-term memory to our long-term memory and then to repair cells
  • If we get enough sleep, we are more likely to feel equipped to deal with whatever life throws at us, feel less stressed and make better food choices
  • In children certain crucial hormones that stimulate growth and development are only released during sleep (US Department of Health & Human Services. 2012)

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

The effects of long term (chronic) sleep deprivation can have a serious impact on our life and well-being.  The consequences can include, Anxiety & Depression, Immune Suppression, Insulin Resistance, Neurodegenerative Diseases (Dementia, Alzheimers), Impaired Cognition and Obesity.  

So how much sleep do we need?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the following are recommended levels 

Newborn to 2 months old 12-18 hours

3 months to 1 year old 14-15 hours

1 to 3 years old 12-14 hours

3-5 years old 11-13 hours

5-12 years old 10-11 hours

12-18 years old 8.5-9.25 hours

Adult (18+) 7-9 hours



Some herbal teas are brilliant for helping to induce relaxation and sleep and they include Valerian Tea, Chamomile Tea and Lemon Balm.

There can be many reasons for disturbed sleeping patterns including stress, anxiety and hormone imbalances, so the above tips may need to be implemented in addition to eg balancing hormones or practicing stress reduction meditations.  If you cannot achieve good sleep hygiene, despite your best efforts, I would highly recommend speaking to a health practitioner to get some guidance and support in order to benefit your sense of wellbeing and long-term health.  After all, we all feel better after a good night’s sleep!

Sources: US Department of Health & Human Services. (2012). Why Is Sleep Important?. Available: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why. Last accessed 28th Mar 2015




Lyn Sharkey Nutrition
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