The importance of sleep

Sleeping is a basic human need, like eating, drinking, and breathing. Like these other needs, sleeping is vital for good health and well-being throughout your lifetime. Adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night; children and teens need even more.

In 1910, most adults slept nine hours a night — now, surveys show the average adult sleeps fewer than seven hours a night. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-third of adults report not getting enough sleep every day. More than one-third of adults report daytime sleepiness so severe that it interferes with work, driving, and social functioning at least a few days each month.

Sleep is as important for good health and wellbeing as diet and exercise. Sleep is essential to both our mental and physical health. Sleep impacts how you feel and perform during the day. During sleep, your body and brain repair and restore themselves — sleep helps strengthen your immune system, and improves learning, memory, stamina, mood, and general health. Not getting enough sleep increases your risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression. Lack of sleep also affects your cognition and reaction time, leading to more injuries and accidents.

People who have trouble sleeping, either because of shift work or a sleep disorder, should talk with their doctor for options to improve their sleep.