Dr. Azizi Seixas is a sleep expert, researcher, and Assistant Professor in the Departments of Population Health and Psychiatry at NYU Langone Health. In addition to studying the impact of sleep on cardiovascular disease, mental, and brain health, his research focuses on behavioral, psychosocial and environmental causes of chronic diseases, and developing precise and personalized health and wellness solutions. He is considered a national and global innovator and thought leader in digital health technology. In 2020, Dr. Seixas was chosen by Cell Press as one of a hundred most inspiring Black scientists in America.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. But we all know that, realistically, that’s not always the case since time spent tossing and turning or delaying bedtime may bring the actual number of hours below 7.
You may be asking yourself, why is sleep so important, and how can I get more of it?
Well, we asked sleep expert Dr. Azizi Seixas about the value and importance of sleep and what his most important tips for better sleep are.
Read below to see what he said.
So, why is sleep so important? According to Dr. Seixas, sleep is what keeps us going. In fact, without it, it would be impossible to function properly.
“Sleep is one of the most important activities the body uses to take care of itself,” said Dr. Seixas. Though the absolute existential and biological reasons for sleep are not fully known, there is mounting evidence that sleep helps us with the following:
Dr. Seixas tells us that more recently, scientists have discovered that sleep may be a secret elixir that may cure or reduce risk of dementia. How? Dr. Seixas describes it as “ a fascinating vacuuming system that clears the brain from toxic protein tangles called beta amyloid, a stronger biological marker for dementia.”
Your sleep consists of two major phases: non-rapid eye movement sleep (which consists of three stages: Stage 1, 2, and 3) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Each stage is important for several biological processes. Specifically, Stage 3, marked by slow wave sleep, is linked with biological recuperative and restoration processes.
However, your sleep is much more than these biological processes and stages. Dr. Azizi urges you to not just focus on how much sleep you get but rather the quality, timing (when you sleep), efficiency, consistency of sleep time, and how satisfied you are after sleeping—which he says are all important in determining if you are getting “good, healthy sleep.”
It’s no secret that sleep can affect our physical and mental well-being. In fact, according to Dr. Seixas, healthy sleep duration can reduce risk for:
In addition to over well-being, Dr. Seixas also says healthy sleep improves brain function (such as concentration and memory), mood, quality of life, libido, and even your level of attraction. “One of the strongest evidence for the benefits of sleep is seen in its ability to reduce the risk for heart disease. Sleep is linked with lowering of blood pressure and glucose levels during the night thus reducing risk for hypertension and diabetes.”
While there is no one-size-fits-all sleep routine, there are a few things you can do to set yourself up for better sleep at night. Here are some of Dr. Seixas’ tips on how to "hack" your sleep.
Sometimes, even with a good night routine and sleep preparation, our bodies just won’t let us doze off. Don’t worry, Dr. Seixas has tips for that, too.
If you’ve been having a hard time getting to sleep lately, we hope these tips make you feel more ready to crawl into bed and catch some z’s! But before you snooze off, head over to our Instagram for more content like this.
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