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The Need for Sleep

So really, how important is sleep, anyway?

The answer, in two simple words: “very important.” That’s what national experts say, according to a sampling of sleep research across the United States.

Consider these words from research fellow June Chi-Yan Lo, Ph.D., at Duke Medical School’s Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke Medical School: “Sleep is for everyone. It is crucial for optimal performance and physical and mental health. High achievers appear to need less sleep, but so far this is limited to anecdotal evidence. In fact, scientific investigations have shown that in children and adolescents, more sleep is associated with better school performance.”

“Sleep is not only important for the brain but also for the body,” said Erin Hanlon, Ph.D., a research assistant professor from the Department of Medicine at University of Chicago. Hanlon, a specialist in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism, pointed to research showing that sleep may be an “important regulator of energy metabolism.”

And this comes from another expert, Leslie Heinberg, the lead psychologist in Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Behavioral Health: “Just getting a little more sleep can help you lose weight, but it’s also going to help you focus better; it’s going to help your mood, help your irritability; make you a safer driver, and more productive at work. Just that little behavior change can have an enormous positive cascade on a lot of different health behaviors and health outcomes.”

The official recommendation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society is for all people ages 18-60 to get seven-plus hours a night. And research has steadfastly revealed that people under the age of 65 who slept for five hours or less every night, all week, did not live as long as those who consistently slept seven hours a night.

Even “catching up on sleep” during weekends might not enough to make up for sleep deprivation. In one report, Michael Grandner, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine, compared sleeping in on a weekend like eating a salad after a series of hamburger dinners — pointing out that the “damage is done.”

The point is, sleep is very important. (Of course, that fact also makes buying a Sleepalo mattress very important.)