Skip to main content
Medicine LibreTexts

3.11: Sleep and Health

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)


    Sleep helps your body and mind recharge, and helps you remain healthy.

    The National Institute of Health suggests the following sleep recommendations by age group:

    Age Recommended Amount of Sleep per Night
    Newborns 16-18 hours
    Preschool-aged children 11-12 hours
    School-aged children At least 10 hours
    Teens 9-10 hours
    Adults 18+ (including the elderly) 9-10 hours

    Sleep & Your Health

    More specifically, adequate sleep is necessary to:

    • Stay Alert. Good sleep allows your mind to regain focus and tackle those tricky mental challenges. It can also stimulate creativity.
    • Boost Memory. Sleeping is the most important time to shape memories and make the connections between events, feelings and experiences. In fact, sleep is a requirement to form new learning and memory pathways in the brain.
    • Fight Infection. Sleep is your body’s mechanism to ward off infection. When you don’t get enough, your immune system is weaker, making you more susceptible to illness.
    • Be Active. Energy levels after healthy sleep are higher, and your mental awareness is more acute. Good sleep is also tied to improved athletic performance, including greater speed, agility and reflexes.
    • Replenish. During sleep, your body repairs the damage caused by stress, ultraviolet rays and other harmful exposure, as well as muscle injuries and other traumas.

    When you don’t get enough sleep over time, not only do you lose out on the key benefits of sleep, but you also become more vulnerable to a number of short- and long-term health risks. Studies show that people who experience chronic sleep deprivation are at increased risk for:

    • Automobile accidents due to drowsy driving
    • Occupational injury due to excessive sleepiness and decreased alertness
    • Obesity due to an increased appetite caused by sleep deprivation
    • Psychiatric conditions such as depression and substance abuse
    • Poorer quality of life

    Sleep & Weight Control

    ��Did you not get enough sleep last night? You may find yourself overeating today.

    That’s the conclusion investigators came to after reviewing data on 172 participants in 11 sleep studies. The study designs varied, but they all tested people after a night of restricted sleep, usually about four hours, and then after a night of normal rest.

    The next day, participants were offered a breakfast buffet or scheduled meals later in the day. The scientists recorded calorie intake and tracked energy expenditure with heart rate monitors and other electronic devices.

    The analysis, in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Links to an external site.), found that after a night of limited sleep, people consumed an average of 385 extra calories the next day, roughly the equivalent of a frosted cupcake or a serving of fries. They also consumed more fat and less protein.

    3.11: Sleep and Health is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

    • Was this article helpful?