Alaska Regional Hospital - November 14, 2017

Is it possible that one little change can help you lose weight, exercise more often, feel more energized, sharpen your brain, reduce your risk for everything from cancer to diabetes and heart disease, and maybe even save your life? You bet - if that small change is hopping into bed earlier tonight and every night.

Skipping on sleep is a serious problem for 40 million Americans who log less than six hours of sleep most nights. Before his untimely death, rock-and-roll superstar Prince reportedly stayed awake for 154 hours straight working on his compositions, underscoring the importance of getting the sleep you need instead of trying to push through your days with a growing deficit.

If you think you're getting by just fine with six or less hours of shut-eye nightly, consider these amazing benefits you're missing out on.

  • A healthier heart and cleaner arteries. Poor sleep increases the risk for heart attacks and other cardiovascular events by 30 to 40 percent, according to a recent Swedish study. People who skimped on sleep had lower levels of beneficial HDLs – the kind of cholesterol that whisks harmful fats away for disposal – in a new study of more than 2,000 people from Finland.
  • Better blood sugar. Quality sleep may be critical to controlling blood sugar. In two studies, both the amount of sleep people received and the quality of their sleep had a significant impact on the risk of diabetes. In fact, quality sleep bestowed as much as a threefold drop in the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Easier control of chronic pain. Sleep loss is especially associated with pain in people over age 50. Getting plenty helps people with chronic pain reduce the need for pain meds.
  • A smarter immune system. A recent German study says logging plenty of deep sleep helps your immune system create long-term memories so it can recognize and attack invading bacteria and viruses in the future.
  • More creativity and better mental focus. When you’re well-rested its easier to do things with laser-like focus – from excelling at your job and playing the piano to following a complicated recipe – according to a recent Australian study. Snooze time is also prime time for your brain to make innovative connections between experiences and information.

Getting a good night's sleep is one of the most crucial things you can do for your body. Getting about seven hours of sleep a night can make a profound difference to your brain and your heart and make your RealAge up to 1.5 years younger.

Research published by the CDC recommends that individuals in the following nine age-specific ranges should receive varying amounts of sleep:

  • Older adults, 65+ years: 7-8 hours
  • Adults, 26-64 years: 7-9 hours
  • Young adults, 18-25 years: 7-9 hours
  • Teenagers, 14-17 years: 8-10 hours
  • School-age children, 6-13 years: 9-11 hours
  • Preschool children, 3-5 years: 10-13 hours
  • Toddlers, 1-2 years: 11-14 hours
  • Infants, 4-11 months: 12-15 hours
  • Newborns, 0-3 months: 14-17 hours

Goldilocks had it right. When it comes to sleep, you need to find what's right for you (probably between seven and nine hours). The trick is to enjoy the benefits of good sleep, but be cautious not to get too much sleep. If you're having trouble sleeping at night or staying awake during the day, see a doctor to determine if something other than your time with the sandman is the cause.


Content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.