ACP\Chris Colls\TrunkArchive.com

“Sleep is a necessary philosophical process like eating and breathing,” says Ana C. Krieger, MD, medical director at the Center for Sleep Medicine and associate clinical professor at the Departments of Medicine, Neurology and Genetic Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. “When humans are deprived more than few nights there can be major physiological complications.” And why sleep is crucial and requirements and preferences vary so much between people is because your sleep cycle is monitored by a circadium clock. “There are neurons in the brain that keep track of time and trigger you to want to sleep at certain time within in a 24-hour period,” says Krieger. However, that natural inclination to head to bed—and get out of it—can be greatly altered by the amount and when you’re subjected to light. “Being exposed to light late at night, even from our electronic devices, goes against our basic physiology,” explains Krieger, who says to skip exposure to your iPhone and TV a good hour to 90-minutes before bed.

To find out your perfect bedtime, Krieger says to see what time you naturally want to wake up (sans alarm clock) then minus 8 hours from there and you’ve hit the sweet spot to your sleep. And while sleep may seem like, well, a waste of time in a world where multi-tasking reigns, Krieger says that there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to the benefits of sleep. Although you’re asleep, you’re body is working on various aspects of your health, plus in the long-term can have many benefits.

Here are just some of the superpowers of sleep:

BOOST YOUR MEMORY

It is believe that a combination of both REM (rapid eye movement) as well as SWS (slow-wave sleep) play crucial roles in the retention and consolidation of information that you've taken in throughout the day.

KEEP YOUR WEIGHT IN CHECK

The two appetite related hormones, leptin and ghrelin, can dictate how hungry you are. And when you're sleep is subpar, the production f both are altered so that you are craving food to fuel you.

HELP YOUR HEART

Getting ample sleep has been connected to lowering inflammation as well as cholesterol and blood pressure. Why or how exactly isn't exactly clear, however, Krieger says that it is most likely tied to the intricate hormonal system at play and therefore can also help with cardiovascular health.

BE HAPPIER

Research shows that not only can lack of sleep make you more anxious and even exacerbate symptoms of depression, but getting enough sleep can also keep your emotions and mood in check. However, you could get too much of a good thing, too. Krieger notes that studies have shown that those suffering from depression have actually benefited from not sleeping so much because if you OD on it, it can have negative effects on your mood.

More from MSN Healthy Living: