08/11/2013 09:39 EDT | Updated 10/11/2013 05:12 EDT

8 Reasons to Get 8 Hours of Sleep


"I can function on 5-6 hours of sleep per night!"

The majority of people don't realize how much better they would feel if they got an extra couple of hours of sleep. In addition to heightening your overall well-being, there are also myriad health benefits. I would like to focus on eight reasons why you should aim for eight hours of sleep a night.

1) It helps alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Going beyond nine hours is associated with depression and anxiety so it is just as important not to overdo it.

2) Your blood sugar levels may be better controlled. Proper sleep hygiene decreases your chances of acquiring diabetes.

3) It increases cognition and memory. Better performance in the classroom may depend on how well you sleep.

4) It can improve your overall well-being. Who doesn't "feel better" after a good night's sleep?

5) It optimizes testosterone levels. If you want to improve your body composition and get a better workout, go to bed early.

6) It increases your growth hormone production. GH has been dubbed the"anti-aging hormone" and sleep helps increase your body's natural GH production.

7) It decreases your chances of heart disease. If your family doctor checked your cholesterol but neglected to ask about sleep, they messed up.

8) Women who sleep less are more likely to develop breast cancer. Even when accounting for con-founding factors, poor sleep habits are strongly associated with breast cancer.

"I don't have time to sleep 8 hours a night."

If you're consistently getting less than 7 hours of sleep, it is detrimental to your overall health. Poor sleep hygiene is as serious a risk factor to your health as a poor diet and spending too much time on the couch. Whether you want to lower your risk of acquiring a life threatening health condition, perform better in the gym, or simply increase your overall well being, getting eight hours of sleep at a night is the perfect start.