7 Things Doctors Wish You Knew About Your Sleep

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Nothing feels better than a great night’s sleep. A full night's rest can help with everything from mental health to inflammation, yet getting enough sleep is often low on people’s priority list. Considering how important sleep is, there is a ton of information that doctors wish you knew to help you form good sleep habits.

Dr. Mairav Cohen-Zion, clinical psychologist and chief science officer at dayzz, tells Bustle that if people knew all the benefits of a good sleep schedule, they would have more incentives to take their sleep habits seriously.

“Try to figure out your own personal reasoning, set that as a priority, and then try to make your sleep better,” she says.

While you may think you have your sleep schedule all figured out, Dr. Cohen-Zion says there’s plenty of surprising factors that impact your sleep. For example, gender and genetics both play significant roles, and it can actually be dangerous to get too much sleep.

Whether it’s to feel more focused during the day, or to reap all the health benefits, everyone can find a reason to go to bed a little earlier. To help you feel well rested, Dr. Cohen-Zion reveals what she wishes you knew about your sleep.

1. Sleep Affects Literally Every Part Of Your Body

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You can feel how sleep impacts your mood or mental health, but you may not know just how important sleep really is for the rest of your body.

“Sleep affects, practically every tissue in our body, in every system from the molecular to larger systems,” Dr. Cohen-Zion says.

So getting on a better sleep schedule won’t just make you feel better in the morning — it could very well benefit the health of your entire body.

2. Poor Sleep Is Linked To Many Diseases

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Considering that sleep impacts literally every part of our body, it’s no surprise that sleep can make or break your overall health. However, it may surprise you just how many health conditions are linked to poor sleep.

“Sleep has been associated with a range of health conditions, from chronic conditions like hypertension, [...] and heart disease, and diabetes, all the way to more severe conditions, even some kinds of cancer,” Dr. Cohen-Zion says. If you're having issues getting a good nights sleep, it may be time to talk to your doctor.

3. It Can Be Unhealthy To Sleep Too Much

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You may think that getting a ton of sleep is always a benefit, but unfortunately sleeping too much can be an indicator of low quality sleep. Dr. Cohen-Zion says that conditions like sleep apnea make sleep fragmented, so even if you’re sleeping for the whole night, you may never reach the deep sleep your body needs. That’s why it’s crucial to not measure your sleep health just by numbers of hours, but also by the quality.

4. People Vary In How Much Sleep They Need

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Ever wonder how some people are always energetic, even on Monday mornings? It turns out that everyone needs a different amount of sleep to function, and some people genuinely can feel fine on a few hours of rest.

“There are what we call short sleepers, people who function really, really well on very little amount of sleep, [about] five hours a night,” Dr. Cohen-Zion says. “And there are people who really need nine hours of sleep to feel same exact way.”

5. Genetics Determine How Much Sleep You Need

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It would be amazing if we could all be short sleepers and function perfectly on a few hours of sleep. Unfortunately, how many hours of sleep we need is, more or less, determined by our genes.

“It's not something someone can become,” Dr. Cohen-Zion says. “You're kind of born that way.”

6. The Quality Of Your Sleep Matters

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Many people think it’s enough to get seven to nine hours of sleep. However, if your sleep is low quality— you’re tossing and turning— then it may not matter

Instead of only thinking about how long you slept, Dr. Cohen-Zion says you should pay attention to how you feel during the day. If you’re getting eight hours of sleep but you’re still dozing off at work, then something may be negatively impacting the quality of your rest.

7. Women May Need More Sleep Than Men

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It’s not a huge difference, but there is some research to suggest that women need more rest than men do.

“There has been a few studies that have shown that women probably need a little more sleep than men, somewhere in the range of an additional 20 minutes,” Dr. Cohen-Zion says.

Getting a good nights sleep a key component to living a happy, healthy life. By learning about the importance of sleep, you can start figuring out how much sleep you truly need and make it a priority to form good sleep habits.