If you're anything like me, you probably feel like you can never get enough sleep. In fact, it's a rarity for me to make it through an entire day without wishing I'd slept more the night before. Recently, however, I've started to wonder: How much sleep is everybody else getting? After all, many of us run on tight schedules, and finding time to actually go to bed after busy days of work, school, and familial and social obligations can feel more like a dream than reality. For many of us, even once we're in bed, sleep can still be elusive. Luckily, there's a lot of research being done when it comes to sleep patterns and how sleep affects our health (hint: sleep is a really big deal, you guys).
Recently, a new study released data on how many Americans actually get enough sleep. The findings are broken down via state, which I think is really interesting. For the purpose of this study, researchers defined "enough sleep" as an average of seven hours per night. The survey also only looked at adults, which makes sense as teenagers and children generally require more sleep.
Which state's population gets the most sleep? The survey says: South Dakota! Seventy-two percent of the people of South Dakota get at least seven hours of sleep per night. My guess is that between the cold weather and the high percentage of people working on oil rigs, the people of South Dakota value their sleep as a means of survival. In contrast, the survey found that Hawaiians get the worst sleep, on average, as only 56 percent of their population averages seven hours of sleep per night.
For the sake of curiosity, I checked out my own city's average. Here in Washington, D.C., about 67 percent of the population gets at least seven hours of sleep per night, which is pretty high in the rankings. I am definitely not one of the 67 percent who gets that much sleep, as I tend to average around four hours per night — which I should probably work on for my health. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the recommended amount of sleep for adults ages 18 to 64 is seven to nine hours a night; after age 64, it drops down to seven to eight hours.
Speaking of the health benefits of sleep, here are five reasons you need to get more sleep. Myself included!
1. Getting Enough Sleep Helps Your Brain Function
When you're asleep, your brain basically recharges itself. This is the time where your brain organizes and processes information. If you aren't sleeping enough, your short-term memory can suffer, as well as your creativity. If you consistently don't get enough sleep, you can even begin experiencing hallucinations, which is pretty scary stuff.
2. Sleep Can Improve Your Skin
When your body sleeps, it repairs itself in all ways, even aside from just your brain. Numerous studies show that getting enough sleep has a positive impact on your skin. Often, getting enough sleep is linked with clearer skin, less puffy eyes, and less dryness.
3. Sleep Can Rid You Of Your Pesky Under Eye Circles
4. Sleep Can Add Years To Your Life
This study is pretty crazy: A 2010 research report found that for women ages 50 to 79, more deaths occurred in the women who slept less than five hours per night on average. This makes sense; your body needs time to repair itself and heal, and that mostly happens when you're asleep. If you live your life barely getting enough sleep, it's bound to catch up to you at some point.
5. Sleep Helps Your Body Repair Your Muscles
If you're someone who values going to the gym, working out, or just gets a lot of walking done during the day, you're probably someone who should also value getting enough sleep. When you're building muscle, it can be exhausting for your body, so it's important that your body gets the sleep it needs to repair itself. If you are exercising too much and not sleeping, you put your body at risk of getting injured or strained. There's also a heightened risk of getting hurt if you're exercising on minimal sleep; when your brain isn't as sharp or alert, you probably want to step away from the dumbbells before someone gets hurt.
So, there you have it! Please prioritize getting enough sleep — it really is the best thing for your health, short- and long-term. If you're curious to see how your nightly sleep average compares to the rest of your state (or the country), check out the survey results over here at LiveScience.