Study: Sleep Is an Indicator of Overall Health

Conor Cawley

Everyone knows the importance of getting a good night's rest. The last thing you want to do is be tired for a day full of meetings and projects. After all, there isn't a boss on the planet that doesn't cringe when someone yawns during a presentation. But according to a recent study, sleep might be more important than you previously thought.

The National Sleep Foundation conducts yearly studies on the importance of sleep in our lives. In 2015, they focused on how pain is related to your nightly rest. In the study, researchers found that healthiness is directly related to how well people are sleeping. In fact, those with “excellent or quality health” were typically sleeping for half an hour more than their “fair or poor health” counterparts.

“Sleep quality and duration should be considered a vital sign, as they are strong indicators of overall health and quality of life,” said Kristen Knutson, PhD, National Sleep Foundation. “Extremely long or short sleep durations are associated with more specific conditions, but for many people who are close to getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep, getting just 15 to 30 minutes more a night could make difference in how they feel.”

While 30 minutes might not seem like much to write home about, in this context, it was the difference between 6 hours and 55 minutes and 7 hours and 25 minutes of sleep. As many know, 7-9 hours is the optimal amount for healthy living, and these unhealthy people were missing out on it.

And it's not just about how much you are getting. Researchers also found that merely making an effort has a positive effect on your health and your sleep cycle. It turns out, those committed to getting a better night's rest slept for 36 more minutes than those apathetic about their particular bed times. Even those experiencing chronic pain were able to stay sleeping longer when they were driven to do so.

“Understanding the importance of sleep and taking a proactive approach to bed times can help everyone improve their sleep, even people with pain,” said Knutson. “Taking control of your sleep is an important step in taking control of your health.”

If you aren't getting a good night's rest, this stress-inducing study probably isn't help. Lying awake at night is not aided by further data emphasizing the importance of the thing you aren't getting enough of. But as the study shows, even making a small effort to fall asleep faster will, in turn, help you do so. Plus, with sleeping apps and white noise machines, a good night's rest should be easier than ever.

Photo: Flickr / Kristina Kuncevich

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Conor is the Senior Writer for Tech.co. For the last four years, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His extensive background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host tech-centric events like Startup Night at SXSW and the Timmy Awards for Tech in Motion. You can email Conor at conor@tech.co.