Importance of sleep for physical and mental health

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Nothing is more relaxing than a sound sleep at the end of a busy day. There is no question that most of us enjoy sleeping. Most of us look at a baby sleeping and think, “oh, even I wish I slept like that”.

Sleep is essential for the body, whether an early bird or a night owl. Sleeping ‘like a baby’ is necessary for the body as it provides multiple health benefits.

What is sleep?

There is no need for an explanation to make us understand what sleep is.

Sleep is the natural state of our body that remains inactive, and the mind is unconscious.

It is characterised by reduced muscle voluntary activities and movements having lesser interactions with the environment.

Sleep occurs in patterns or episodes. Most people sleep during the night, which proved to be an essential component of overall well-being. Proper food, exercise and adequate sleep are the simplest ways to lead a healthy life.

It is easy for us to find many motivational videos preaching that a person needs to hustle always and not sleep for long hours to achieve success. Keeping the hustling part aside, do we need to sacrifice our sleep for success?

Definitely not. Sleep has become a luxury and an escape in the modern, fast-paced world. We need to understand that sleeping is not a luxury but a necessity to improve our mental and physical health.

How long does a person need to sleep?

Sleeping habits can significantly vary depending on an individual’s health and body requirements.

Age is also an important factor in determining how much sleep a person requires.

However, on average, everyone requires at least eight hours of sleep every night.

  • Children under the age 5 require at least 10 to 12 hours of sleep daily.
  • Children between 6 to 15 years old require 8 to 12 hours of sleep daily.
  • People aged 16 to 60 years require a minimum of 8 to 10 hours per day.
  • People over 60 years must get 7 to 10 hours of sleep for optimal health.

Why do we need to sleep eight hours regularly, is it really beneficial for our health?

The answer is simple. Sleep will improve the overall health of a person. Sleep plays a crucial role in recovery and improves mental health.

Having a proper sleep schedule can do wonders for the body as it

  • Allows the brain to process information easily
  • Maintain regular body function
  • Recovery of muscle tissues from activities
  • Emotion management
  • Improve concentration and
  • Restore energy

Sleeping can also help with

As we read about the importance of sleep, we must know what happens to your body if it is sleep deprived.

Sleep deprivation

Not getting adequate sleep will drain our mental abilities and put our physical health at significant risk.

Sleep deprivation is a term that describes a condition that is caused by inadequate quality or quantity of sleep. Sleep deprivation and its long-term side effects are real. It is not difficult for us to relate to how the next day felt whenever we spend a night turning and tossing around on the bed without proper sleep or spend an entire night roaming around.

Missing out on the recommended amount of sleep will make us feel more than just grumpy.

What are the causes of sleep deprivation?

Various factors can cause sleep deprivation, but in a nutshell, it is caused when there is a lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep consistently for an extended period.

Sleep deprivation can be a result of various internal and external factors like

  • Environment
  • Stress or
  • Underlying health condition.

What are the side effects of long-term sleep deprivation?

Sleep deprivation affects the entire body, from the brain to the foot. Some of the effects of sleep deprivation are as follows:

To prevent all these side effects, it is crucial to sleep adequately.

Importance of sleep for physical and mental health

How we feel when awake largely depends on what happens while we are asleep. Sleep holds a crucial role in improving a person’s physical and mental health.

How are sleep and physical health connected?

Heart and cardiovascular system

When we fall asleep, our blood pressure and heart rate fall. Our heart does not work as hard as it usually does when awake.

As soon as we wake up, our blood pressure and heart rate will sharply increase, which can cause chest pain or heart attacks.

People who do not sleep well have an increased chance of high blood pressure, stroke or obesity as their heart works harder while they are awake.


Our body produces different hormones during different times of the day. This hormone in production is primarily related to sleep patterns. Therefore, sleep is essential for the body to produce hormones that can help digest fat appropriately.

This is one of the reasons why elderly people advise not to eat food at an unusual time.

Respiratory system

The respiratory system is a crucial body function that keeps us alive. When a person sleeps, they breathe less deeply and take less oxygen, which can positively affect health conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.

Sleeping will also affect various parts of our immune system that can become active during the day, which is why people who do not sleep enough are more likely to develop the common cold or other infections.

How does sleep affect mental health?

The drawbacks of sleep deprivation are not restricted just to physical health, it can take a significant toll on a person’s mental health as well.

A night of sound sleep and good mental health are closely connected because when a person is sleep deprived, it can affect their physiological health.

Memory and thinking

Sleeping can help to form long-term memories and enhance the ability of a person to focus on specific tasks and think clearly. Sleep deprivation can disrupt the ability of a person to concentrate on his daily activities and create trouble.


Depression is a type of mental disorder that is marked by feelings of excessive sadness and is accompanied by insomnia. Sleeping problems can also be a consequence of depression, and many researchers suggest that when a person has poor sleep quality or time, it may result in depression.

Having a poor sleep cycle can worsen depression and further lead to other mental health problems.

Depression needs specific treatment. However, a good sleep pattern can help ease the symptoms of depression and prevent it from causing further problems.

Anxiety disorders

Being anxious for a while is fine. However, anxiety disorders create excessive fear that can affect daily life and cause health problems like cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

Sleeping problems and anxiety disorders have a strong connection and go hand-in-hand. Excessive worry and fear can contribute to a hyper-arousal mind that can contribute to insomnia.

By having a sound sleep, we can control the side effects of an anxiety disorder.


Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder grouped by specific characteristics that involve differentiating between what is real and what is not.

Insomnia is a common side-effect of schizophrenia that can accompany a person. Poor sleep and schizophrenia can be mutually reinforcing and destabilise sleep patterns.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ( ADHD )

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that will reduce a person’s attention span with increased impulsiveness.

This disorder is usually found in children and can last into adulthood. There is a close relationship between sleep and ADHD.

As mentioned above, many mental health conditions don’t arise individually, but now occurring health conditions can influence one another and disturb a person’s sleep.

Improving mental health and sleep

Mental health conditions can disturb sleep and affect a person’s overall health. This can make it complex to undergo treatment and prevent mental health decline.

The health condition of every individual is different, and hence the optimal treatment for mental health care and sleep-related problems largely depends on the individual.

Sleep can significantly impact the quality of life a person needs to address with proper care.

What are how can a person improve sleep?

Short-term sleep problems may not require medical assistance. However, specific lifestyle changes or medications can help.

There are over-the-counter sleeping pills that can be helpful for most people with short-term health conditions like jetlag for stress management.

Some of the natural sleep aids include

  • Melatonin
  • Lavender and
  • Valerian

Some of the essential oils include lavender, as it is a relaxing scent that can influence the nervous system and promote sleep.

Other essential oils have sleep blends incorporating Chamomile Clarrie Sage and other relaxing properties to enhance sleep.


Meditation can help a person relax their mind. Meditation is focusing the mind on a particular thought or object to reduce stress and allow a person to fall asleep.

Some treatments can help a person fall asleep.

Such treatments include hypnosis and cognitive behavioural therapy.


Hypnosis is a treatment that can help a person relax their body and mind and facilitate a night of sound sleep.

A trained professional will use verbal instruction to help a person enter a deep state of relaxation that can facilitate sleep.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy is considered the first-line treatment for sleep disturbances, including insomnia and depression.

CBT is done by a trained professional psychologist who will help a person with anxiety symptoms and relax the mind.

Apart from therapy are their ways to increase the quality of sleep?

Enhancing the quality of sleep

One of the primary reasons why people find it challenging to fall asleep is because of poor sleep hygiene.

Improving sleep hygiene while changing habits and the environment can help a long way in reducing sleep disturbances.

Some tips on how a person can get healthy sleep by:

  • Having a fixed bedtime and maintaining a proper sleep schedule
  • Finding ways to relax before bedtime
  • Quit alcohol or smoking in the evening
  • Reduce caffeine intake after sunset
  • Dimming the lights and keeping away from electronic devices before bedtime
  • Maximise comfort by ensuring the mattress pillows and buildings are suitable for you
  • Minimise the excess light or sound that can disturb sleep
  • Get regular exercise during the daytime and increase overall physical activity for a sound sleep during the night
  • Avoid heavy meals before bedtime

It is best to realise that to prevent sleep deprivation, is to ensure that we get adequate sleep regularly.

Moreover, if a person is deprived of sleep for a more extended time, they may require medical assistance to diagnose any underlying health conditions like

To diagnose the health conditions mentioned above, a doctor can describe a sleep study to measure sleep quality and prescribe medications or a device to help fight the disorder and improve sleep quality regularly.

To sum up

The importance of sleep is neglected or overlooked by people. An individual’s sleep requirements vary based on various demographic factors or underlying health conditions.

If a person is deprived of sleep for an extended time, they can experience various physical and mental health problems.

It is always recommended to consider a medical professional for advice to rule out any underlying conditions and improve sleep quality.


Does sleep have an impact on physical health?

Various research conducted on people revealed that sleep deficiency is directly linked to multiple chronic health conditions like
1. Cardiovascular diseases
2. Elevated blood pressure level
3. Elevated blood glucose level
4. Kidney problems
5. Obesity and  
6. Depression.

Why do we need to sleep?

Sleep promotes a healthy body and brain function. Sleep is essential for a person to
1. Maintain a healthy weight
2. Prevent health problems
3. Get sick less often
4. Improve the mood
5. Be more productive and
6. Socialise better

How many hours do you sleep in a night?

1. Children under the age of 5 require at least 10 to 12 hours of sleep daily.
2. Children between 6 to 15 years old require 8 to 12 hours of sleep daily.  
3. People aged 16 to 60 require a minimum of 8 to 10 hours per day.
4. People above 60 years have to get 7 to 10 hours of sleep for optimal health.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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